17 user 10 critic

Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976)

Aspiring actress Norma Jean Baker lives in squalor in the early '40s as she works at the munitions plant and dreams of being a movie star. Abused as a child and an adult, she lacks ... See full summary »


Larry Buchanan




Cast overview, first billed only:
Misty Rowe ... Norma Jean Baker
Terence Locke Terence Locke ... Ralph Johnson
Patch Mackenzie ... Ruth Latimer
Preston Hanson Preston Hanson ... Hal James
Marty Zagon Marty Zagon ... Irving Oblach
Andre Philippe Andre Philippe ... Sam Dunn
Adele Claire Adele Claire ... Beverly
Sal Ponti ... Randy Palmer
Paula Mitchell Paula Mitchell ... Cynthia Palmer
Jean Sarah Frost Jean Sarah Frost ... Ethel
Lilyan McBride Lilyan McBride ... House Mother
Burr Middleton Burr Middleton ... Sleasy Photographer
Stuart Lancaster ... George
Ivy Bethune Ivy Bethune ... Ruby Kirshner
Robert Gribbin ... Terry (as Robert Gribbon)


Aspiring actress Norma Jean Baker lives in squalor in the early '40s as she works at the munitions plant and dreams of being a movie star. Abused as a child and an adult, she lacks self-confidence, but photographer Ralph Johnson takes some publicity shots and convinces her to try for her dream, and supports her as she's bounced from casting couches to sleazy photo shoots. She befriends once-powerful producer Hal James, who tries to steer her toward her dream of stardom, to where she will eventually be known as Marilyn Monroe. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They knew her as Norma Jean Baker. The world would soon know her as Marilyn Monroe See more »


Biography | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Part of a cycle of movies made during the mid-to-late 1970s about Tinseltown, Old Hollywood and its Golden Age including the Silent Film era. The pictures include Fedora (1978), Inserts (1975), Valentino (1977), Nickelodeon (1976), Silent Movie (1976), The Wild Party (1975), The Last Tycoon (1976), Hearts of the West (1975), The Day of the Locust (1975), The World's Greatest Lover (1977), Gable and Lombard (1976), Goodbye, Norma Jean (1976), Bud and Lou (1978), and W.C. Fields and Me (1976). Bogie (1980) and Mommie Dearest (1981) would soon follow as well. See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The 1970s (2002) See more »

User Reviews

A rather sad and pathetic film...I felt a bit dirty watching it...
5 September 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

I watched this film because I am, at times, a film masochist. While I love classic Hollywood films, independent films and foreign cinema, I also have a soft place in my heart for the truly horrible films. I particularly love the worst schlock from the 1950s and 60s. And, considering that Larry Buchanan is one of the absolute worst directors of this era, GOODBYE, NORMA JEAN was a must-see.

The first thing I noticed is that the film maker really intended this as a "skin flick" by inserting needless nudity. Facts and getting the story straight were NOT high priorities. I especially like how they didn't even try to make Misty Rowe look that much like Marilyn. Before being discovered by Hollywood, Marilyn didn't have bleached blonde hair, as anyone vaguely acquainted with Marilyn's life would have known--but I guess wigs or hair dye were just too expensive for this film! The next thing I noticed is that this really wasn't a biography but instead was more like a series of sexually explicit episodes (a lotta rapes in particular) and beatings that were linked together by the theme of Marilyn Monroe--like it was inspired by her life only! In other words, it was pure exploitation. Instead of being titillating, however, it all came off as gross. Sure, Ms. Rowe was a sexy dish, but seeing her supposedly raped again and again is definitely NOT a turn-on for normal folks!! In fact, I sure worry about anyone who LIKES watching these terrible scenes. I really think if they had perhaps kept the nudity but not have it be in the forms of violent rapes it wouldn't offend most viewers.

Another really bad aspect of the film is the dialog. Again and again, Ms. Rowe goes off on the most ridiculous little speeches that don't sound the least bit like the way real people talk. In particular, the casting couch speech was laughable but examples of insipid drivel for dialog abound. Another great bit of dialog is the scene where Marilyn's mother appears in a dream wearing a straight-jacket and talks on and on about how hard life is! Ugghh!

Overall, there isn't really anything good about the film, though the production values are a lot better than Larry Buchanan's other films--which still isn't saying very much! Also, if you are looking for anything on the later life of Marilyn, this film isn't it as it focuses on the early career only. In 1989, Buchanan created GOODNIGHT, SWEET MARILYN that supposedly deals with Marilyn's last days. If it's as close to the facts as this film, expect to possibly see space aliens and a visit from Pope Innocent III in the movie! GOODBYE, NORMA JEAN is a rather sad and pathetic excuse for a film. The only reason it gets a 2 is that at least for Larry Buchanan it's got reasonably decent production values.

Written, directed, produced and edited by the great auteur, it is a soul-less and evil little movie.

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Australia | USA



Release Date:

February 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Young Marilyn See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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