Monday, July 25, 2016

FILM: 7 Marilyn Monroe Movies

Marilyn Monroe made about two dozen films between the late 1940s and the early 1960s. Most of them are pleasant diversions. But a few are really terrific and should be seen today.

Here are seven movies that I think are her best pictures, starting with my personal favorite:

Niagara (1953) This was the beginning of 20th Century-Fox’s build up of MM, and she has a plum role here as a fast, curvy woman in a red dress plotting to do away with her husband while at Niagara Falls. Her husband is played by Joseph Cotton. The beautiful Jean Peters plays a woman who stumbles onto the plot. This is a terrific, noirish film (shot in color), and directed by the great Henry Hathaway.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) Here, the Fox glamour machine was in high gear with MM as Lorelei Lee, the diamond-hungry showgirl. Jane Russell is her gal-pal in this lighthearted musical from director Howard Hawks.

Some Like It Hot (1959) One of the greatest comedies ever made, it also stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon as a couple of musicians fleeing gangsters by dressing as women and joining a girls' jazz band. The band’s singer is MM. The picture was directed by Billy Wilder.

The Misfits (1961) Terrific drama with MM as a woman in Reno, Nevada waiting for her divorce to come through. She gets involved with cowboy Clark Gable, his pal Eli Wallach, a washed up rodeo rider played by Montgomery Clift, and a wise-cracking older woman played by the wonderful Thelma Ritter. The movie was written by MM’s then husband, Arthur Miller, and directed by John Huston.

The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) In this Technicolor film version of a Terrence Rattigan play, chorus girl MM attracts the amorous attention of a European nobleman, played by Laurence Olivier, who also directed the movie.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) Here, 23-year-old MM has only a small role as the mistress of a crooked lawyer, but her time on screen is magic. This film is the granddaddy of all heist movies. It stars Sterling Hayden, Sam Jaffe, James Whitmore, Jean Hagen and Louis Calhern as the lawyer. It was directed John Huston.

River of No Return (1954) Old West saloon singer MM gets robbed and dumped by her nasty boyfriend, Rory Calhoun, and goes down river after him on a raft with settler Robert Mitchum and his young son. This short, brisk, color film was directed by Otto Preminger. And old Otto has a bit of wicked fun with his Cinemascope framing during one of MM’s songs.


  1. I can honestly say I've never seen anything of hers. A couple of them sound interesting, so I'll keep a lookout for them.

    1. Col – Since I know you like crime stories, keep an eye out of ASPHALT JUNGLE and NIAGARA. Both show frequently on cable, at least they do over here.