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Boy made short film on Marilyn Monroe

Old 02-18-03, 03:01 AM
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Boy made short film on Marilyn Monroe

He was 14, she was 29. He was a skinny, big-eared kid from the Bronx, she a blond bombshell from Hollywood. They said it would never work out, and sure enough, it didn't. But for one brisk day in the spring of 1955, Peter Mangone and Marilyn Monroe were in love.

And he has the film to prove it.

Back in the 1950's, Mr. Mangone, now 63 and living in Palm Beach, Fla., was such a Monroe fan that for several months he staked out the Gladstone Hotel on East 52nd Street, where she was recovering from her divorce from Joe DiMaggio and her summary dismissal from her contract at 20th Century Fox.

On one of those truant mornings, Mr. Mangone took an eight-millimeter Kodak camera from his brother, headed downtown and met Monroe just as she was leaving the hotel for a therapeutic shopping spree. Then, just as in the movies, she waved, winked and asked him to come along.

"Once you saw her, once your eyes fixed into her, she was burnt into your head," Mr. Mangone said. "I haven't been able to look at another woman the same way since."
The film, ignored and stored in a beat-up cardboard box, was in almost mint condition. Just over five minutes long, the original color film had suffered none of the ravages of time "because no one had ever really seen it or screened it," said Russ Suniewick, the president of Colorlab, a Rockville, Md., film preservation company that transferred the film to 16-millimeter stock and VHS and DVD formats. There was no sound track.

"It's an amazing little piece of film," Mr. Suniewick said. "The only downside is that it was shot by a 14-year-old kid not completely accustomed to working with the camera."

The film is shot from four or five feet away, with a series of interactions between Monroe and the camera.

Walking backward, Mr. Mangone captured Monroe in classic New York City poses like strolling arm-and-arm down Fifth Avenue with her friend and photographer, Milton B. Greene, and stepping gingerly over a subway grate. (This was the year of "The Seven Year Itch" and that famous whoosh of air and her revealing white dress.)

The camera also caught unguarded, unglamorous moments: her yawns, stumbles and a speck of dust flying into her eye. The background has images emblematic of the 50's: Checker cabs, '55 Chevys, men in fedoras and women in crinolines. Monroe wore a black cashmere suit.

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