THE GODDESS (1958). Director: John Cromwell.
Uneven but absorbing film written by Paddy Chayefsky is a fictionalization of the Marilyn Monroe story. While an almost-middle-aged Kim Stanley is an odd choice to play the Marilyn part – she isn't photographed particularly well and never creates the sexy, alluring aura of a Monroe – the producers probably figured a little subterfuge was in order [Monroe was still alive when the film was released] and Stanley's performance is generally splendid. Lloyd Bridges is fine as her second husband, an ex-boxer who only wants to go back home where he's still admired, but Steven Hill's off-kilter thesping as husband number one only shows why he never became a major player. Betty Lou Holland almost runs off with the movie as Stanley's mother, who in youth is a pathetic woman desperate for a better life, and in old age becomes a withered withdrawn bible-thumper. While the film has its slack and cliched moments, there are also moments that are trenchant and powerful. Elizabeth Wilson offers her usual finely-honed performance as Stanley's devoted companion in her later years.
Verdict: Worth a look. ***.