The historic Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard embraced the legend of cinematic icon Marilyn Monroe with the Los Angeles premiere of With Her.
The documentary, created by French filmmaker Laurent Morlet, gives the audience an inside look into the world of those that have devoted their lives to continuing the legacy Marilyn Monroe in the Marilyn Remembered club. Morlet directs his lens on everyone from club president Greg Schreiner, who has been in charge of the club for the past 30 years, to Armenian born Mikael Sharafyan who moved to America because of his passion for Monroe.
“I was curious to understand people’s devotion to Marilyn Monroe even 50 years after her death,” said director Morlet at a Q&A with the cast and crew held after the premiere. “I called Greg up and he opened up the doors to his fan club to me and he allowed me to get to know his members.”
Watching the film itself you get a true sense for what it takes to be so utterly and blindly devoted to such an icon. Documentaries of this type are always tricky and walk a fine line. On the one hand, you must try and treat your subjects with respect and give them the time and attention they deserve on screen. On the other, if you don’t make your subjects compelling there is no reason for anyone to watch the film.
Members of the fan club were in attendance to share their thoughts on the film, many of which had seen it for the first time that night. “I was worried that they [members of the fan club] were going to be put up as objects of ridicule and you didn’t do that at all,” said moderator James Spada.
“I was very surprised that the more I followed my subjects in their lives there was a distinctive separation between them and her,” noted Morlet. Indeed, many of those featured state right from the start that though they have a definitive love of Monroe, they know that she is gone and can never come back. A few times the line does blur but those are few and far between.
Many of the subjects shown throughout the film are not only fans of Monroe’s but also avid collectors of her memorabilia. “Greg and I are lucky enough that enough people know about us now people actually contact us about pieces they have. I am lucky I started collecting when I did because the prices of many items have skyrocketed in the last couple of years. One of Marilyn’s dresses recently sold for a couple of million dollars so I buy what I can now,” said long-time collector and fan club member Scott Fortner, also a subject of the film.
“I am eternally grateful for what I do have, it’s like having Marilyn all around me,” agreed Schreiner. “I am so proud of everyone in the film. I have to tell you I’m so glad I moved out of my small town in Illinois and came out to Los Angeles. I thought I was alone in my love of Marilyn and then I came out here and I found all these other people I can share my love of her with, it means a lot to me.”
The premiere was co-presented by the French film and television office along with the Consulate of France.