Here are 7 Best Marilyn Monroe Movies that every fan should see in their lifetime. Now on this list, you won’t find The Misfits, Don’t Bother to Knock, How to marry an Millionaire, and River of No Return. If you think these movies should replace one of the movies on this list of best Marilyn Monroe movies then please comment below and comment
This 1950 noir thriller, directed by John Huston, can’t exactly be described as a “Marilyn Monroe movie,” since Monroe has only a few minutes of screen time in it. But young Marilyn makes the most of her role as Angela, the mistress of the crooked lawyer who masterminds the movie’s heist. Her nuanced performance lends a touch of innocence and genuine caring to a character who on paper seems like a straightforward gold-digger. We tend to associate Marilyn with the big-hearted comedies that would come to dominate the peak of her career, so it’s interesting to see her work with much darker material. If you prefer noir to comedy, this is the movie for you. Some don’t think that this should make the best Marilyn Monroe movies list because it’s too old, but maybe I’m just a sucker for old noir style films.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1951 satire of the New York theater scene features Monroe in the role of Miss Caswell, a ditzy actress who is cheerfully candid about using her looks to get ahead. Marilyn’s part in the movie is even smaller than her role in The Asphalt Jungle, but her character is a cornerstone of the film: Miss Caswell serves as the foil for title character Eve, whose more underhanded methods the movie ultimately condemns. Unlike in The Asphalt Jungle, which was cast mostly with unknowns, in All About Eve Marilyn had the opportunity to work with veteran star Bette Davis, and her proximity to Davis elevated her performance. All About Eve won the 1951 Oscar for Best Picture, and the movie’s success opened an important door for Marilyn: Darryl Zariuk offered her a screen test with Twentieth Century Fox, the studio where the rest of her career would unfold.
The Marilyn Monroe of Niagara is a total deviation from the actor’s signature types (the naive ingenue, the dumb blonde). Filmed on location at the Niagara Falls, this Henry Hathaway-directed thriller allowed Monroe to tap in to her more dramatic dark side. In Niagara, Marilyn plays Rose, a scheming, sexy manipulator who conspires with her lover to murder her weak husband. The film’s cinematography and costume design were crafted to emphasize Monroe’s physicality and sex appeal, which unfortunately led to critics accusing her of using her looks to distract from her acting ability, a judgement that would haunt her throughout her career. Nevertheless, moviegoers of 1953 loved it. Today, Niagara is popular with cinematography buffs for a different reason: the movie includes what’s describes as “the longest walk in cinema history,” 116 feet of film showcasing Marilyn’s signature hip-swinging strut.
Without a doubt, Marilyn’s turn as Lorelei Lee in Howard Hawks’ sparkling musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was the role that launched her into the superstar limelight. (In fact, it earned her a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.) The film is full of moments that have become iconic in the years since its release in 1953, like the pink dress Monroe wears during her rendition of the song “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” Lorelei Lee is Marilyn at her ditzy blonde best, playing off against clever brunette Dorothy Shaw, her performance partner and best friend (portrayed by Jane Russell). Full of silly gags that resolve themselves in a happy ending, this is a movie for people who love to laugh and want a signature Marilyn experience. This was another classic that deserves a place on this “best Marilyn Monroe movies” list.
If you had to think of a single image that perfectly captures the essence of Marilyn Monroe, you’d probably find yourself picturing a billowing white dress, shapely legs, and a subway grate. The image, which has been endlessly recreated, referenced, and parodied since it was scripted into Marilyn’s legacy, comes from a scene in The Seven Year Itch, Billy Wilder’s 1955 adaptation of the George Axelrod play. Marilyn’s carefree performance as a model who titillates the imagination of her long-married downstairs neighbor is impressively charming, especially in the context of the damage the film was wreaking on her private life as she made it. Monroe was married to Joe DiMaggio at the time, and he was furious about the way Marilyn was expected to play stupid in order to emphasize her attractiveness (admittedly, her character in this movie is really dim). The couple filed for divorce shortly after filming ended, but Monroe’s performance is pure and unaffected by her inner turmoil.
A foreign prince regent, visiting London for the coronation of George V, falls for the charms of Elsie, a chorus girl he spots in a West End show. As Elsie tries to sleep off the effects of too much wine after dinner with the regent, she overhears a plot to overthrow him and ultimately saves the day. If the story sounds familiar, it might be because The Prince and the Showgirl served as the backdrop for the 2011 Monroe biopic My Week With Marilyn. My Week With Marilyn focuses on the friction between Monroe and costar Laurence Olivier, who directed and produced the 1957 film in addition to playing the part of the prince regent. But The Prince and the Showgirl is an interesting movie in its own right. Deeply romantic with a cliffhanger ending, the film is not an obvious crowd-pleaser like other Marilyn films, but Monroe’s performance is warm and appealing and her character is a little smarter than the average Marilyn blonde.
We’ve saved the best for last: this 1959 slapstick comedy is nothing short of a tour-de-force. Known for its comedic brilliance, Some Like It Hot is both Monroe’s most popular movie and her most commercially successful. A spoof of popular gangster flicks of the 50s and 60s, the movie is about two male musicians on the lam disguised as women after unintentionally witnessing a mafia murder. Monroe plays Sugar Kane, the quirky ukulele player in the all-girl orchestra they join. The actor famously demanded that writer-director Billy Wilder rewrite several scenes to give Sugar more substance and better comedic material, and her efforts paid off. Marilyn’s performance as Sugar is sincere, vital, and witty, proving that she was capable of moving beyond the two-dimensional dumb blonde. Inexplicably, the Motion Picture Academy snubbed her in the Best Actress Oscar category that year, maybe because of the well-publicized conflicts between Monroe and Wilder during filming. The movie managed to transcend this rebuff and is much beloved today. It’s hard to imagine anyone disliking a film so hilarious and so sweet. One of the best Marilyn Monroe movies in my honest opinion.
What other movies do you think should be on this best Marilyn Monroe movies list?