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reviews added: 5/24/01



Todd Doogan is... the DVD Fanboy DVD Fanboy reviews Fox's Marilyn Monroe:
The Diamond Collection


reviews by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits
(a.k.a. DVD Fanboy)
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com

She was a candle in the wind, a beloved screen icon and a woman men loved and other women wanted to protect. She's Marilyn Monroe, and Fox is honoring her with a DVD box set featuring five and a half of her films, along with a documentary about her Final Days. To be sure, the Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection is a set every fan will want. So let's go through it film by film, disc by disc...
Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection (6 films)



Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
1953 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B+

Specs and Features:

97 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:06:30, in chapter 23), Movietone newsreel: Mann's Chinese Theater - Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Cement, Diamond Collection promo, theatrical trailers (for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, There's No Business Like Show Business and Seven Year Itch), restoration comparison, postcard and one-sheet poster art, film-themed menu screens, scene access (30 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0 & mono) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned


Marilyn and Jane Russell are two showgirls who are looking for love. Marilyn thinks she's found it in the form of a young nerdy millionaire, who'll buy her anything she wants as long as daddy approves. And he doesn't. Russell would rather find love in the form of someone who loves her back, money of not. So, on a cruise to Europe, Marilyn and Jane find themselves surrounded by temptation and opportunity. Marilyn finds an old man who owns a diamond mine and falls head over heels in love with his wife's tiara. Russell, on the other hand, falls for a private dick that trailing Monroe for her fiancé's father (to prove she's a tramp). Through a series of misadventures and misunderstandings, Russell and Marilyn find love, loose love and find it all over again. Oh... and the song and dance numbers are fit nicely into the action of the film, rather than simply being nonsensical riffs.

I liked this film. I liked it a lot actually. Monroe is at the top of her game here. My favorite stuff is her scenes with the young millionaire on the boat that she's set Russell up with. The scheme blows up in her face, but the pay-off is wonderful.

The DVD gives us the film in its original full frame aspect ratio, with nice bright colors and a cleaned up print. You should find no source or digital artifacts. It looks really, really great. The audio is also nice, with a remastered Dolby Digital 2.0 and the original mono mix. They both sound good and are free of the analog pops and hissing on the original tracks.

The extras on this disc are going to be pretty standard for all the discs in this collection. You get the trailers for all the other films (except How to Marry a Millionaire oddly enough), a restoration comparison (which explains the work that went into cleaning up the picture) and the Diamond Collection promo. Exclusive to this disc is a Movietone newsreel of Russell and Monroe leaving their mark at Mann's Chinese Theater in Hollywood and a galley of poster and postcard art used to market the film.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes


Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection (6 films)




How to Marry a Millionaire

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

How to Marry a Millionaire
1953 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A/B+

Specs and Features:

105 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.55:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:09:28, in chapter 16), Movietone newsreel: How to Marry a Millionaire in Cinemascope, Diamond Collection promo, theatrical trailers (for How to Marry a Millionaire in English, Italian and German, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, There's No Business Like Show Business and The Seven Year Itch), restoration comparison, film-themed menu screens, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 4.0 & 2.0) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned


Marilyn, Lauren Bacall and WWII pin-up queen Betty Grable are three models who want to nab a millionaire. So how do they do it? They rent a New York high-rise and throw out bait. Hoping to find love, each of the girls is shown in their pursuit, with the main focus being Bacall, who plays the ringleader of the group. Shockingly, there's very little Monroe to be seen in the film, which disappointed me a bit. In the end, each finds true love, but only one finds it with a millionaire. Betcha can't guess which one...

This was one of the first Cinemascope features, and, as such, there's a certain novelty to the film. The extended opening features the Fox orchestra playing the "street theme" from the film, conducted by Alfred Newman, and I don't think I've ever seen this before. It's a treat. The screen fits in the entire... well it has to be 100 people... and it doesn't end there. Showing how much room can be fit into the frame, most of the shots in the film are set up with tiny people talking across to each other. There's maybe one shot of Monroe in close-up and only a handful of medium shots in the film. There's also a few jarring novelty shots, like an airplane landing and a cityscape or two, that feel out of place. But Fox had to show the public their new toy, and this was one of the first films to do it with.

How to Marry a Millionaire is not as sharp as I would have liked it to be. Even on a large monitor, just because of the wider aspect ratio, some detail is lost (even with anamorphic enhancement). It's not that it's a bad transfer or anything like that. It's just that this film was meant to be shown BIG. So it doesn't look as wonderful in the home as it would in a theater, or in that rich guy down the street's home theater, with the 70-foot screen. Color is nice and the source is clean. Sound is also good, with Dolby Digital 4.0 and 2.0 mixes that serve the film well. The extras are the standard trailers, restoration info, Diamond Collection promo and a Movietone newsreel announcing Cinemascope.

How to Marry a Millionaire


Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection (6 films)




There's No Business Like Show Business

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

There's No Business Like Show Business
1954 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B

Specs and Features:

118 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 55:47, in chapter 14), Diamond Collection promo, theatrical trailers (for There's No Business Like Show Business in English trailers and Portuguese, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, How to Marry a Millionaire and The Seven Year Itch), restoration comparison, one-sheet poster art, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 4.0 & 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned


This is the story of the Donahue family, a grand vaudeville troupe who went from billing themselves as "The Donahues" to "The Three Donahues" to "The Four Donahues", on to "The Five Donahues"... and then back down to "The Four Donahues" some point later. Ethel Merman (in her first screen appearance) is mama and Dan Dailey is pop. Their three kids are Donald O'Conner, Mitzi Gaynor and Johnnie Ray. We see their ups. We see their downs. But, best of all, we see the Donahues in action. Some of the best Irving Berlin songs EVER are featured here, and that's about all you'll find worth watching in the film. Cinema-wise, TNBLSB is an utter disaster. The acting is pretty bad throughout. The pacing is up and down. And if you believe any of the actors are sons, daughters, brothers and sisters age-wise, you're on crack. As a musical fan, I'm not a big fan of this film. But, then again, musically it has its charms and it's worth watching just for the production numbers. Check it out and fast forward through anything that doesn't look like there's singing and dancing in it. Oh... and Monroe plays the beautiful object of Donald O'Conner's character's desire, who gets to belt out a grand rendition of Heat Wave.

This is another Cinemascope picture, but the frame is bigger and the filmmakers went the less novel route. Everything is nicely detailed and the color palette is quite rich. It's another spectacular transfer for this collection. The audio is also very nice, with Dolby Digital 4.0 and 2.0 painting the soundscape nicely for this film.

There are no newsreels this time out, but we get trailers, the Diamond Collection promo, the restoration demo and one-sheet poster art by way of extras. Not bad for a flick that's 47 years old.

There's No Business Like Show Business


Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection (6 films)




The Seven Year Itch

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Seven Year Itch
1955 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A

Specs and Features:

110 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.55:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 55:22, in chapter 12), Movietone newsreel: The Seven Year Itch has Sneak Preview, 2 deleted scenes, AMC Backstory: The Seven Year Itch, Diamond Collection promo, theatrical trailers (for The Seven Year Itch in English and Spanish, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, How to Marry a Millionaire and There's No Business Like Show Business), restoration comparison, one-sheet poster art, film-themed menu screens, scene access (22 chapters), languages: English (DD 3.0 & 2.0) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned


The Seven Year Itch - this is the one many of you fans are going to want. It's got everything. It features Marilyn at quite possibly her funniest, sexist and most iconic. I mean, who hasn't seen the image of Marilyn with her skirt blown up about her knees?

The Seven Year Itch is the story of Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell), a happily married dime novel editor living in New York City. He's just sent his family away for the summer, and is settling into a three-month bachelor hood, while also observing the rules his wife has left. No smoking, no drinking and (the unspoken one) no ogling hot-to-trot girls. That last one is the hardest one to follow, especially when Richard finds that the apartment above his has been sublet to a gorgeous Girl played by Marilyn Monroe. Things go from warm to hot, as Richard and The Girl dance around the ancient question: to do it or not to do it. As Richard has his fantasies, complete with horrifying aftermaths, he must also deal with his wife hanging out with an old flame on her vacation. Will he dance over the edge and let his urges get the best of him, or will his overactive imagination save the day?

The Seven Year Itch is brilliant. It's based on a successful Broadway play, with minor changes (which make the film a little more tame). But writer/director Billy Wilder makes the tame version work in many a wicked way. Monroe is as sexy as ever, and also proves she can actually act here. It's a funny as hell film, that still plays well all these years later.

On DVD we get a glorious Cinemascope transfer, with bold colors, sharp detail and a very nice looking source. I have nothing bad to say about this transfer - it's that good. The audio is available in either Dolby Digital 3.0 or 2.0, and both sound generally the same, with the 3.0 being slightly more active.

The extras for this disc are a much better lot. There are two hilarious deleted scenes, a well made AMC documentary on the making of the film, a newsreel on the "skirt scene" and the standard trailers, restoration demo, Diamond Collection promo and poster art gallery. Pretty sweet.

The Seven Year Itch


Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection (6 films)




Bus Stop

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Bus Stop
1956 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

Film Rating: C+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/B

Specs and Features:

105 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 34:38, in chapter 9), Diamond Collection promo, theatrical trailers (for Bus Stop, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There's No Business Like Show Business, How to Marry a Millionaire and The Seven Year Itch), restoration comparison, lobby cards and post card art, film-themed menu screens, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD 4.0 & 2.0) and French (DD mono), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned


Beau Decker is a human hurricane. Fresh off the horse ranch, he's heading to Phoenix for a tournament to prove he's the best at bucking broncos, chasing doggies and tying up arrant cattle. On the bus ride out, he confides to his guardian Virgil (and anyone else who'll listen for that matter) that he's going to find his Angel - a woman that he can sweep off her feet, marry and take back home to be his wife. Beau plans on accomplishing this in the few days he's away from home, because he knows how to get what he wants. Virgil shrugs it off, but what he doesn't realize is, Beau might just know what he's talking about.

Enter Marilyn Monroe, as Cheri (Beau pronounces it Cherry), a cabaret chanteuse who Beau sees one night performing at a club. When the patrons won't shush for her, Beau gets everyone to keep quiet and proceeds to follow her to her dressing room and propose marriage. Cheri has no idea what to do, so she says she'll think about it. We find out that Cheri is a lost little girl on her own in the world, and she's looking to head to Hollywood to become a star. But that road might take another route when Beau literally sweeps her off her feet and essentially kidnaps her to take her back to the ranch.

Do opposites attract? That's the major question being asked here. And if they do, can there be love at first sight? Maybe. Like Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy, another theme in this film is: how much does a person's past effects a relationship. The answer here is a lot better than the one Smith came up with in his film: if you love a person for who they are, how can criticize the things that made them that way? Bus Stop is an interesting film, and a well made one, but I think it worked much better as a play. I liked all the performances here, but the structure of the thing isn't too far removed from the source, therefore a great majority of the film feels a bit too theatrical and staged. That's not too bad a thing, but it keeps you from investing yourself in it too much.

Once again, Fox nails the DVD, giving us a beautiful looking transfer. Color density is strong, detail is sharp and the film looks almost as new as a film released this year. Good work, Fox! The audio is available in strong Dolby Digital 4.0 and 2.0 choices, both of which sound rich and well-centered.

Once again, the extras are your standard lot for this collection, with a marketing art gallery thrown in for good measure.

Bus Stop


Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection (6 films)




Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days

Marilyn Monroe: The Final Days
2001 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

Program Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/A/B+

Specs and Features:

117 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1) and letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), Amaray keep case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 52:51, in chapter 8), Cleopatra promotional theatrical trailer, Movietone newsreel: Cinemascope, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none, Closed Captioned


Before Marilyn died, she was fired from the Fox film Something's Got to Give. The making of the film was a nightmare for everyone involved. But Hollywood nightmares make great stories, so bad for Fox and good for us. The Final Days is a story told two-fold. We get the "making of" story, with behind-the-scenes information told through documentation and interviews, along with a historical look at what was going on during Marilyn's last few months on Earth. It's a very well made documentary that deserves to be seen, and I'm glad it's on DVD.

Also here, which I consider to be an extra feature, are the restored scenes from Something's Got to Give, put together like a short film, complete with opening credits and a score. It's pretty cool to see, but I felt it was a bit of a wasted effort in the form it's in, because you don't have any idea what the heck is going on. Title cards, explaining what should have been seen in-between scenes, would have helped guide the viewer through the film better. As it stands, if this film were presented all by itself, it would be awful. I know that the film was never finished, but that's why I think some text would have helped make sense of it all. Even a commentary track from a historian would have been nice. Monroe was great here, as were her co-stars. It IS a shame this film wasn't finished, because it could have been a gem.

The DVD represents the TV quality of the documentary with nice detail and no artifacts whatsoever. Audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and is also very nice. The Something's Got to Give portion is letterboxed, but not anamorphic (but doesn't suffer for it). Other extras include the trailer for Cleopatra (the film which helped kill this project, politically at least) and a newsreel on Cinemascope.

Marilyn Monroe will live forever, thanks to her body of work (kudos to her body as well). And thanks to Fox's restoration of these films on DVD, her legacy will live a little while longer. Every one of the films in Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection is a gem, worth seeing in its own way. Some are better than others, but they're all classic, and they all look and sound wonderful in this collection. Hey - it's never a bad idea to invite Marilyn into you home, right? Even if it's just for a little while. Recommended.

Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection (6 films)


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