Saturday, October 15, 2011

Screen Gem Saturdays: Andre, Marilyn, & Shirley

Andre de Dienes may not be one of the best known names today, but he is definitely one of the contributing factors to the fame and discovery of Marilyn Monroe. A very talented photographer, he studied art in Paris and learned photography on a Rolleiflex camera. Moving to Hollywood in 1944, de Dienes was able to combine two of his passions: the female nude and nature. He freelanced for the movie studios and specialized in glamour photography.

I have included a few shots from 1945 that showcase a fresh faced Marilyn Monroe (still Norma Jeane at the time), free of the artifice that the studios slapped onto her. These are definitely some of my favorite photos of Monroe because she seems so full of promise and happiness. Even without nudity, de Dienes was able to capture an inner sexuality and beauty.

Marilyn and de Dienes went on a five week photo tour, where he snapped the young beauty in a variety of natural settings.

Here is a shot of de Dienes himself that was supposedly shot by Marilyn.

Surprisingly enough, de Dienes also photographed Shirley Temple, just a few years earlier in 1943. The physical similarities between both young ladies at the same time makes one ponder what direction Shirley's career could have taken had the studios not felt constrained by her curly-top moppet image. I have also wondered if Shirley's ever-present mother had her watchful eye nearby during the shoot with de Dienes.

From Shirley's well-written and frank autobiography, "Child Star," Shirley recalled the photo shoot:

While Selznick was concentrating on making me look younger, Vanguard publicists were embarked on a patently uncoordinated program to make me older and overtly sexy. Photographer Andre de Dienes was assigned to pose me on a haystack at the nearby Arden Dairy Farm, coincidentally the home of Tillie Temple from Tillamook, my gift cow from a distant birthday. Dressed in cowboy boots, blue jeans, blouse, and a bulky cable-knit sweater, I fluffed out my hair and stretched out in what I assumed were seductive poses most lying back in the hay sucking on a piece of straw. After a few rolls of film de Dienes complained that my outfit was shapeless, and maybe too much. Rolling my jeans to the knee, I exposed both calves. Not just what he had in mind, he said. Let's take off the boots, for starters. Then, how about a little more off-the-shoulder with the blouse? For a third time, I rebelled. Pin-up photos were perfectly okay, particularly if the legs were like Betty Grable's. Contrived cheesecake was for starlets, and I wanted no part of it.

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Major Pepperidge said...

Cute photos of Shirley. I agree that Marilyn looks more natural and happier, but she was such an incredible knockout when she went blond!

Chiana_Chat said...

Hm! Especially like the top pics of Marilyn and Shirley.

Do you know where the Marilyn shots were? CA? Maybe along the sierras?

Interesting dilemma Shirley related. They were both right. The sweater is too bulky for the scenery but being too obvious wouldn't have worked for her. She does look like trouble in the pole pic. A good kind of trouble...

Chiana_Chat said...

ps Dave I was admiring some of your photos earlier and noticed you have some of missions. If you're ever up that way, there's one just minutes north of Paso Robles, right off the freeway, Mission San Miguel. It has the most authentic preserved interior details, even some wall painting from the mission era still visible. It has recently reopened after suffering damage in a quake several years ago. Well worth a look if you haven't seen it.

South of there along the freeway in San Luis Obispo, I see you've seen the mission and Fremont Theater. Did you see inside the Fremont? The sculptured, neon-backlit, Xanadu-esque ceiling of the auditorium remains along with some other Deco features. Awesome places! Also what has to be Liberace's dream resort, Madonna Inn. Maybe stay or eat there. Arrange to be there mid-day and tour some rooms. The original owners have passed on, I don't know how long it's going to remain the time capsule it is, so if you haven't taken a good look around it but want to, do so soon.

Anyway maybe I'm not telling you something you don't know but if not, you might find enough to exercise the camera shutters at. :)

Chiana_Chat said...

pps- There's a lobby card of Judy in Summertime about "Miss Fisher will demonstrate how to play the tuba" - I take it that was a cut scene, has it been found? Looks like it was amusing.

Davelandweb said...

Chiana - with MGM, very few deleted scenes remain, other than a large batch of musical numbers that still exist, without the audio. Recent restorations have been able to pair up the vocal recordings with the picture, but unfortunately the fx tracks typically do not exist and have to be re-recorded. One number from "In The Good Old Summertime" called "Last Night When We Were Young" still exists, but that's the only deleted scene I am aware of.

On my trip north, I was running short on time, so didn't get to see the mission in Paso. Sounds like I need to get back up there! Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the inside of the Fremont, either. So many things to photograph!