Forever Marilyn: 4 Film Collection

Forget diamonds, this boxset make it clear that Blu-ray is Marilyn Monroe's best friend

It’s now 50 years since screen icon and sex symbol Marilyn Monroe passed away, but during that time her star power has not diminished one iota. Strange, then that until now none of her films have been released on Blu-ray in the UK. This four-disc set brings together four of her best (and best-loved) titles – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot. So let’s get stuck in…

Picture: It’s hard to imagine that anybody will complain about the clarity, colour reproduction and accurate registration of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ AVC 1.33:1 1080p transfer, which are streets ahead of any previous version of the film I’ve encountered. However, there’s a lack of fine detailing that some will put down to digital filtering and sharpening. This could actually be down to the source materials used for this Blu-ray release, though – presumably a combination of the same restored three-strip Technicolor elements and a black-and-white fine grain master that also served as the basis of the film’s 2002 DVD release.

How to Marry a Millionaire was the first film to be shot using the CinemaScope process (‘You see it without glasses’) and the Blu-ray’s AVC 2.55:1 1080p encode brings it to the home with aplomb. Colours are somewhat less robust than Gentlemen…’s, but this is to be expected given the filmstock used, as are the slight softness and heavy grain found in the image. Many of the same comments can be made about The Seven Year Itch’s AVC 2.55:1 1080p encode, which also stands tall as the best-looking home version of the film I’ve ever seen.

Finally we come to Some Like It Hot. This disc’s AVC 1.66:1 1080p transfer excels at reproducing the film’s grainy black-and-white cinematography, although there are a few little marks here and there that make you think a newer remaster could make it look even better.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: All four of the films feature lovingly remixed DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtracks that stay focused on the front of your speaker array and don’t distract with gimmicky surround effects. In addition, Gentlemen… features a Dolby Digital 1.0 track, How to… a Dolby Digital 3.0 mix and The Seven Year Itch a Dolby Digital 4.0 incarnation.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: The two earliest Monroe films in the set sadly offer up very little in the way of extras besides trailers and a short archival Movietone news reel for each.

The Seven Year Itch shows what could have been done with its commentary track, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 isolated score, The Hays Code picture-in-picture mode (exploring film censorship, accompanied by an on-screen ‘Sexual Innuendo Meter’), interactive filmography, deleted scenes and documentaries. And Some Like It Hot continues in a similar vein, with a commentary, four retrospective documentaries, the trailer and a lengthy ‘virtual’ stills and clips gallery.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: A good first showing for Monroe in hi-def. Now, can we have the rest please?  

20th Century Fox, All-region BD, £55 Approx, On sale now