Cinema: To Aristophanes & Back

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Sin, sin, sin. Morning and night, that was all they talked about in the little frame house in the California poor-town where Norma Jeane Baker lived in the early years of the Depression. "You're wicked, Norma Jeane," the old woman used to shrill at the little girl. "You better be careful, or you know where you'll go." Norma Jeane was careful, especially not to talk back. If she did, she got whaled with a razor strop and told that a homeless girl should be more grateful to folks who had put a roof above her head. One night, when the child went to sleep in her cot, she had a strangely exhilarating and frightening dream: "I dreamed that I was standing up in church without any clothes on, and all the people there were lying at my feet on the floor of the church, and I walked naked, with a sense of freedom, over their prostrate forms, being careful not to step on anyone."

The point of the story is that the little girl grew up to be a movie star named Marilyn Monroe, and the dream came true on such a preposterous scale that her new wide world has fallen at her feet. In Hollywood's pagan pantheon, Marilyn Monroe is the Goddess of Love. Furthermore, she has shown signs of becoming a good actress, and many a once-skeptical professional now thinks she may become an outstanding one.

In any case, Marilyn Monroe's hip-flipping, lip-twitching, frolicsomely sensual figure is the latest curve on the path of erotic progress that has led Hollywood from the slithering vamp to the good-natured tramp. Her physical proportions (37-23-37) have become a vital statistic, and the poor little waif has become a big business; her last five pictures have grossed more than $50 million. Moreover, there is solid evidence that she knows how to run her business.

As many as 5,000 letters a week pour in from Marilyn's fans, and they include at least a dozen proposals of marriage. In

Turkey a young man went so daft while watching Marilyn wiggle through How to Marry a Millionaire that he slashed his wrists. The Communists have angrily denounced her as a capitalist trick to make the U.S. masses forget how miserable they really are. In Moji, Japan, her notorious nude photograph was hung in the municipal assembly building in an effort "to rejuvenate the assemblymen." In the radiation control laboratory of the world's first atomic submarine a picture of Marilyn occupies a prominent place in the Table of Elements. She is the subject of more unprintable stories than anybody since the farmer's daughter.

Figure of Fantasy. Actress Monroe stands 5 ft. 5½ in. in her stocking feet (5 ft. 9 in. in the stiletto heels her roles require), and she is a little leaner (118 Ibs.) than she looks on the screen. In a sweater, as everybody can see, she is a standout; "I defy gravity," says Marilyn. In skintight toreador pants, she manages to make the world's most famous come-on out of a simple walkaway, and Marilyn's face, by popular standards, is as spectacular as her figure.

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