Friday, June 27, 2008

The Sex Symbol (1974)

Network: ABC
Original Air Date: September 17th, 1974

Connie Stevens does a vague interpretation of Marilyn Monroe in a movie with less vague intentions of capitalizing on the movie star's tragic death. The Sex Symbol takes place over one loooooong, lonely night in one desolate room. Kelly Williams (Stevens) is a soon-to-be washed up starlet, haunted by her demons and her past, is drinking her way into oblivion while re-living some of the more sordid details of her life. Sometimes she calls her distant shrink who only wants her to go to sleep, sometimes she gets a call from her ex-husband (William Smith doing Joe Dimaggio, but wimpy) or sometimes she just sits there thinking.

Could Marilyn Monroe's last night on earth been quite this... dramatic? I guess it's possible, but man, this movie isn't satisfied unless it's going so over the top that it comes down and goes back over again! Shelly Winters plays Williams arch nemesis, a nasty gossip queen who presents the lives of the rich and famous on a local news program. Apparently Winters can either make or break your career (and she does both here), but with such a sordid and bitchy personality, you have to wonder why anyone would hang out with her to begin with! She flits in and out of William's life either making nice or terrorizing the poor, stupid blonde. Also, Williams' "secretary" has a vaguely lesbian crush on Williams as displayed in the back massage scene (YIKES!). Seems everyone wants a piece of her, and much to her chagrin, she's willing to give it!

Not a great movie by an standards - it's slow and the Williams character is more annoying than sympathetic - it's still a pretty entertaining little pot boiler. Stevens can be hysterical when she gets hysterical and the scenes where she keeps trying to call her dad are hilarious. The men who play her lovers are surprisingly nice guys, and although the film does portray Williams as a victim, she's a victim at least in part because of how she has decided to live her life - not what someone else has done to her.

I can't imagine there's a lot of similarity between Williams and Monroe as Monroe's death exposed a true sadness within the actress whereas with the Sex Symbol you're kind of relieved when all is said and done. So you certainly won't get depressed watching this movie and you might even get a few laughs going too.



Craig Edwards said...

It's crazy to think this was aired a mere twelve years after Monroe's passing. And what a weird way to try to tell a story that is only sorta similar to MM's. Larry Buchanan did his exploitation version not long after this - Goodnight Norma Jean - with Misty Rowe as the starlet.

Amanda By Night said...

It is a weird movie. Stevens had a lot invested in it, and wanted it to be a bit of late-career breakout for her, but as you said, it's weird.

I never saw Goodnight Norma Jean, but it sounds interesting. I like Buchanan! Thanks for the heads up!