In Arthur Miller: Writer, the HBO documentary which aired Monday night, the late playwright’s daughter Rebecca Miller, who directed the film, says via voiceover, “I felt I was the only filmmaker that he would let close enough to really see what he was like.” Rebecca, who is of course married to Daniel Day-Lewis, may have been the filmmaker who captured Miller so casually and off-guard, but her mother, the great Magnum photographer Inge Morath, kept an astute lens on Miller for the 40 years they were married, before Morath died in 2002. When they first met on the set of the film The Misfits, which John Huston directed from Miller’s screenplay, the writer was still married to his second wife, Marilyn Monroe. It was a relationship that blew hot and cold, from infatuation to despair, as things tend to go with Monroe. By the time the drama starring her and Clark Gable began shooting in Reno in 1960, the marriage was falling apart. There, with her camera, was the Austrian photographer Morath. She was in Nevada with her colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson after a road trip across America; she already knew John Huston from her work on his movieMoulin Rouge, and he trusted her. As Miller recalled, “Inge took comparatively few pictures. When she pointed the camera she felt a certain responsibility for what it was looking at. Her pictures of Marilyn are particularly empathic and touching as she caught Marilyn’s anguish beneath her celebrity, the pain as well as her joy in life.” That Morath, whose documentation of midcentury American style is collected in the Magnum book Inge Morath: On Style, went on to marry Miller in 1962, not long after he separated from Monroe, is for sure a fascinating, juicy asterisk to these photographs—but the pictures tell the real story.
Marilyn and Arthur in the back seat during the filming of The Misfits.
Marilyn, caught on set.
In her hotel room during The Misfits shoot.
In a Reno casino during the production of The Misfits.