At his Connecticut home, Arthur Miller talks to Alan Yentob about his life and career, some of the many influences behind his work, and his marriage to Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe.
One of America’s greatest playwrights, Arthur Miller was 72 when this film was recorded in 1987. This was the year that he had published his autobiography Timebends: A Life and he had granted Omnibus an exclusive interview partly to mark both this occasion and partly as his latest play A View From The Bridge was about to transfer to the London stage. He begins by reminiscing about his New York Jewish upbringing, and the effects upon him and his family of the Great Depression, which was the theme for his Pulitzer Prize-winning tragedy, Death of a Salesman. Miller recalls the opening night and the reaction it received. The McCarthy witch-hunts of the early 1950s inspired another of his great plays, The Crucible. Miller discusses the genesis of the play and the effects of McCarthyism upon him and his career, commenting on the “immemorial tendency of the human race to panic.” Interspersed with film extracts from Death Of A Salesman, After The Fall and A View From The Bridge are Miller’s observations on the political and poetic nature of his plays and of the writer’s art.
Miller gives his insight into his most famous marriage, speaking publicly about it for the first time “She was in rebellion when she acted, and she expected punishment as a result of it,” he says. “The great thing about her to me was that the struggle was valiant; she didn’t give up until the end.” He also talks about the shooting of Monroe’s last completed film, The Misfits, for which he wrote the screenplay. This was the time when her health was deteriorating due to an increasing dependency on drugs, though she still managed to give an exceptional performance. It was also on the set of The Misfits that Miller met his next wife, Magnum photographer, Inge Morath.
Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP