Thursday, March 1, 2012

Marilyn Monroe and The Termites of Sin

When telling people about my blog, I often get quizzical looks or an outright "What?" from them at the mention of the name, Termites of Sin.  Here locally, there is a long-running band named The Crawfish of Love and people often think that I'm simply trying to one-up or ape them but indeed, that is not the case, for the Termites of Sin, and my use of the term, preceded the Crawfish by a long shot. The origins of this marvelous name comes from one of my favorite films, The Seven-Year Itch.

Those familiar with the film will know that the story is of a married man in New York who has sent his wife and son away to vacation in the mountains for the summer.  He meets and befriends a beautiful blonde who is house-sitting the apartment above.  As only Marilyn Monroe can, the ditzy blonde takes refuge in his air-conditioned space (in the age before central air-conditioning) as innocently and voluptuously as possible, causing our single-for-the-summer hero's imagination to run wild with thoughts of nights of adulterous abandon.

Based on the George Axelrod Broadway play of the same name, the Billy Wilder script is a classic and a perfect vehicle for Marilyn who plays the girl with more physical assets than brains.  In one scene she tells him that she had previously lived in a women's club and discloses why she was asked to leave:

"I hated it. You had to be in by one o'clock or they locked the doors. Now I can stay out all night if I want to. I was really glad when they kicked me out, I mean when they practically asked me to leave...It was so silly. I posed for this picture and when it was published in U.S. Camera, they got all upset...It was one of these 'artistic' was on the beach with some driftwood. It got Honorable Mention...It was called Textures, because you could see three different kinds of texture: the driftwood, the sand and me. I got $25 dollars an hour, and it took hours and hours. You'd be surprised."

After an attempt to seduce her with an evening of martinis and Rachmaninoff fails, our hero, Sherman, is flustered, upset, and thinks he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  The next day at work he goes to his boss, Mr. Brady, to ask for a two week vacation so he can join his wife and child in the country and finds him in his executive bathroom shaving and happy as a lark for having been out all night playing cards with the boys as his wife and child are gone for the summer as well.  

Sherman imagines he has been transformed into Dorian Gray as Mr. Brady gleefully tells his life story of summers of vice, lust, and corruption... "the story of a young man, on the surface clear-eyed and healthy, just like you Sherman, but underneath, ah, dry rot and the termites of sin and depravity, gnawing at his soul."

I still laugh at this film every time I see it, along with another of my Marilyn Monroe favorites, Bus Stop.  They just don't make them like that anymore.

P.S.  Famous acting coach and founder of The Actor's Studio, Lee Strasberg, said that next to Marlon Brando, Marilyn was the most talented actor he ever worked with.


  1. I always wondered about the name of your blog. Now I know.

    It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, and obviously I didn't remember the line with "termites of sin" in it. Must put it on the list now.

  2. Most people think the name is either evil or "camp". Turns out it's out of a comedy. Apropos I think.

  3. I still think you're evil, but thanks for enlightening me.

    Never seen the film but I might just do that.

  4. It's been along time since I've seen it. Now I need to watch it again. She reminds me of Dolly Parton. Once you get past the surface, there is a lot going on.

  5. Ummm, looks like Mo has me pegged.

    Jono... I never liked her as a child but somewhere in between I began to appreciate her comedic genius and then, her acting genius in her final role, The Misfits.

  6. Well, comedy or evil, it's a great name for a blog.

  7. I never did see that film. And I too always wondered what your blog title meant.

  8. this is weird..when I read the title of your blog it was like a little bell ringing in the back of my head..but couldn't figure it out..then we you said Marilyn of my favorite I get it.

  9. Champagne and potato chips. She was a delightful actress. :-)


  10. thanks for this erudite background on your blog title. wonderful.

    and she was indeed a candle in the wind. so talented and sensitive.


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