“God, look at huh.”

On Saturday, my sister Jean and I went and got mani/pedis. French nails on Ye Olde Digits – and I got the lovely shade called “Kinky from Helsinki” on the toes. As we sat there, getting pampered, we watched television with the other ladies in the shop. River of No Return was playing on AMC – the Saturday morning Western. Love that movie!

A funny moment:

A lady sitting in the chair next to me, getting her heels scrubbed by the manicurist, said, in a growly voice, with a RI accent, “God, look at huh.” (“huh” meaning “her”) We were staring up at Marilyn in her showgirl outfit. Lady said to no one in particular, “People said she was fat.” Long pause, as we all contemplated the “fat”-ness of Marilyn Monroe. Lady in the chair then said, to complete the thought, “Jesus. I’d love to be fat.” (Meaning: if “fat” means I look like “huh” – then bring it on!)

Now Ceci – my question for you is:

There are all of those lovely scenes with Marilyn playing the guitar. Sometimes during her show, and then sometimes out in the wild, to entertain the little boy. Her guitar-playing looks very realistic. The chord changes, the way her fingers move … all seemed perfect.

Jean asked me, “Did she really play?”

And I didn’t know the answer. It looks like she knew how to play. And I also recall the little ukelele in Some Like It Hot – but I KNOW, Ceci, that you will know the answer.

Could Marilyn Monroe play the guitar? Was that her really playing in River of No Return?

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25 Responses to “God, look at huh.”

  1. Cullen says:

    This is a burning question! I have never seen the movie, so I’ve never contemplated. Can’t wait to find out who here knows the answer.

  2. just1beth says:

    Umm, Sheila, I think you meant, “Ceci, was that really huh?

  3. red says:

    Beth – HA!!!

  4. red says:

    Cullen – Ceci will know the answer. She is the go-to girl where Marilyn Monroe is concerned.

  5. Ceci says:

    HAHAHAHA!!! I’m so flattered that you would think I am the AUTHORITY on Marilyn Monroe, Sheila! I don’t know… I’ve been obsessed with Marilyn for the better part of my whole LIFE, for Heavens’ sake!! And yet, there is always something new to learn.

    However, regarding the guitar-playing: as far as I know, she did not play the guitar; she sang herself (very beautifully, in my opinion) and she could play a little on the piano, but she did not play the guitar. So… her playing in River of No Return was actually acting, just as her playing the ukelele in Some Like It Hot.

  6. red says:

    Ceci – wow. It’s so convincing. Especially when she’s playing for the little boy out in the wilderness – with her hair down. (It’s a very Maria von Trappe-ish moment). She doesn’t seem to be pantomiming – it really looks real.

    Good work, MM!!

  7. Ceci says:

    Well, Marilyn prepared for her roles very thoroughly, even for those she disliked or were unworthy of her effort.

    She had singing lessons, musical coaching, etc up to the mid ’50s, so she had a “musical sense” so to speak – I have nothing to back this up, it is not mentioned in any book I’ve read about her, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she had taken a few quick guitar lessons in order to play those scenes convincingly. Marilyn was a perfectionist when it came to preparing for her roles (a trait that caused a lot of trouble for her on-set, as you probably know – it took her forever to be “ready” and then she was never satisfied with her scenes).

  8. red says:

    Ceci – Yes! Wouldn’t surprise me at all if she had done some preparation there.

    I actually have a CD of Marilyn’s “greatest hits” – and one of my favorites is her “File my Claim” that is from River of No Return – I love her singing style, especially in that song.

    I know, too, that Otto Preminger was terrifying, kind of brutal with her – and he made both she and Mitchum do all of their own stunts on this film, and there were a couple of near-drowning incidents.

  9. Nightfly says:

    A bit off-topic, but the french “Riviere sans Retour” made me think of this.

    There’s also a set where they give good movies the B-poster treatment. The one for ET knocked me out of my chair.

  10. Brendan says:

    another great use of ‘huh’ in our past is the cranston conversation mitchell overheard in which two people wondered if the girl they were looking at was who they thought it was…

    “Scutta be huh. Scutta be.”

  11. red says:

    bren – hahahahahahaha


  12. Cullen says:

    Now I’m going to have to rent the movie. It’s hard to convincingly “act” the guitar, so I’m interested in seeing her rendition.

  13. red says:

    You’re right, Cullen – it’s so hard! It’s like Tim Robbins acting like a baseball pitcher in Bull Durham. Love the performance but sorry, fella, you’re not a pitcher. hee hee

    It’s a good movie, anyway – really gripping action sequences, great love story, and Marilyn Monroe in either a showgirl’s uniform or blue jeans and a checked shirt. What more can one want??

  14. mitchell says:

    btw…Judy Garland loved Marilyn and was her vocal/musical performance coach..uncredited but effective!!!

  15. jean says:

    And let’s not forget the reply to “Scudda be huh” –
    “Snot huh!”

  16. red says:

    Jean – hahahahahahahaha

    “Snot huh!”

    “Scudda be.”


    And then the all-time classic:

    “All’s I wannadoiz dee-yance.”

  17. red says:

    Mitchell – I had no idea!!! Did Marilyn go to Judy? Or did Judy offer? Or … how did that happen??

  18. Ceci says:

    Mitchell, I didn’t know Marilyn had taken lessons from Judy, either!

    I know Marilyn admired Judy very much and there are a few photos of them together on public occasions, but I didn’t know they had worked together. Now that I think about it, I have sometimes thought I could hear a Garland influence in Marilyn’s singing (in a few songs), but I always thought it was just Marilyn trying to “imitate” her idol. Please tell us more!!!

  19. just1beth says:

    They just had a thing in the ProJo the other day about Rhode Island-ese and P.S.D.S. (Say it fast.)

  20. just1beth says:

    Give up? Pierced ears.

  21. Lagaidh says:

    I’ve been a Marilyn fan since I was 15. I’m almost 31 now. Oddly, I’ve been playing the guitar since I was 15 also. If you play guitar, then Marilyn faking her way in River of No Return is monumentally obvious. She is placing her fingers anywhere on the neck even if that completely does not match the notes you can hear. What lends to the illusion is that as a singer and performer, Marilyn does know the timing of the song and she moves with that timing. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, it’s a little convincing.

    If you play almost any instrument at all, you can really tell when an actor is faking an instrument, even if you do not play it.

    I think one of the best fakers I ever have seen in film or television is Brent Spiner. On Star Trek The Next Generation, he is the android and thus is able to be “programmed” to play many instruments. I think the actor really can play a little guitar (he frets some chords correctly on the show). He fakes the violin, cello, and piano quite admirably.

    The worst? It has to be Michael Landon’s faking of “fiddle playin'” on Little House on the Prarie. He didn’t even make an effort to move his fretting hand. I admit though, it’s always good for a laugh.

  22. john says:

    It sure looks like it to me, it might of been open tuning….. However that is not the most important thing about her guitar playing…. Can anyone ID or reference what kind of guitar she played?????????????? ps Marilyn had a great sence of rhythm and an absolutly lovely voice and could put it all together in dance, act and modeling, no wonder she is timeless, she wasnt bad looking either…. candel in the wind

  23. Dug says:

    I read that she did learn how to play this piece on guitar…i also read it is her you hear playing on the record. She is reported to have been not happy about singing this lullaby as she thought her fans wouldn’t like her being seen this way…………WRONG!

  24. Wayne arnold says:

    She did play the guitar,an experienced guitar player can tell very quickly when someone is actually making a chord

  25. Wayne arnold says:

    Did not play the guitar, I left the not out of the sentence

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