Marilyn Monroe: Screen Legend

Marilyn Monroe.  One of the most famous figures in American popular culture.  Although she had a relatively short film career, her star continues to shine nearly fifty years after her death.

Hollywood had been creating sex symbols since the silent era, but when Marilyn Monroe arrived in the late 1940s, everything seemed to change.  From her voluptuous figure to her breathy voice to her child-like “innocence”, no one was quite like her.  Studios tried to copy her look with varying degrees of success: Jayne Mansfield, Mamie van Doren, Kim Novak, MGM even tried to market Elizabeth Taylor as a brunette “Marilyn”.

She made 32 films, most for 20th Century-Fox, some very good, many bad.  Luckily, we can revisit her career and witness a true Movie Star.

Some highlights:

All About Eve (1950)-Bette Davis as a great stage actress, Anne Baxter as her younger rival, Marilyn in a supporting role.

Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)-Marilyn, in a rare dramatic role, as a disturbed babysitter obsessed with a man (Richard Widmark) staying in the same hotel.

Niagara (1953)-another dark role.  Marilyn plays the unhappy wife of Joseph Cotten in this noir thriller.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)-Marilyn (in one of her signature roles) and Jane Russell are man-hungry showgirls on a boat to France.

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)-Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall and Marilyn as penthouse-mates on the lookout for a welthy husband.

The Seven-Year Itch (1955)-Tom Ewell plays a man whose wife is away.  Marilyn is the blonde neighbor.  Watch for the famous dress-and-the-subway scene.

Bus Stop (1956)-based on a William Inge play, Marilyn plays a cafe singer who attracts the attentions of a hndsome rodeo rider (Don Murray).

Some Like it Hot (1959)-Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in drag join an all-girl band to escape the mob.  Marilyn as the lead singer.  Perhaps her most famous role.

The Misfits (1961)-Marilyn as a depressed divorcee, Clark Gable as a ex-cowboy and Montgomery Clift as a former rodeo star.  This was the last film for both Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.

What is your favorite Marilyn Monroe movie?

  • Matt

    Not a large or expansive role, but I always enjoy seeing her in “The Asphalt Jungle”.

  • Brian

    She was great in “The Asphalt Jungle” as Louis Calhern’s mistress. I think her early roles show more range. Once she became famous, I’m sure it was tough to take chances.