Happy birthday to the one and only ultimate Hollywood sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe who would have turned 88 years old today! What people tend to forget about Marilyn is that she wasn’t only an icon with a scandalous life, but she was one hell of a performer! From her small beginnings in glorified, ditzy cameo roles all the way to her “difficult” years before her death, Marilyn graced movie screens with true sex, charisma and performances that are just as iconic as they are good. Here’s my five favourite Marilyn’s!
DISCLAIMER: I’ve sat through most of Marilyn’s truly charming filmography, however I haven’t seen “The Misfits” (1961), her final completed film, so I wasn’t able to include it in my rankings.
5. THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (1955)
If I’m being completely honest with myself, I didn’t like the actual film as much as I wanted to. It was cute, well-written but sadly, it was a little bit slow and flawed for me. But Marilyn performance as “The Girl” in the 20th Century Fox feature is as charming as ever. It’s worth the watch, especially when you want to see the iconic subway scene – still from that scene stands as probably the most iconic images of Marilyn Monroe, EVER.
4. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
I think Marilyn Monroe’s performance in “All About Eve” truly set the standard for her on screen persona. Only seen in actually two scenes in the movie, Monroe plays a ditzy blonde actress trying to break into showbiz, using her best assets: her sexuality. It, without a doubt, boosted Marilyn’s career with Fox, that only lead to bigger and better starring roles. It surprises me that in a giant ensemble full of heavy weight “ALL TIME GREAT” performances by Bette Davis, George Sanders, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holmes and company, Marilyn was still able to become her own and delight me in two very small sequences.
3. THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL (1957)
This film is probably Marilyn’s most underrated work. Starring across Laurence Olivier’s Prince, she plays showgirl Elsie, the eye of his desire, who unfortunately causes much more problems then the prince can handle. Though the production was rumoured to have been difficult (by this time of her career, Marilyn was infamous for coming to sets loaded or not coming at all), Marilyn’s performance is pretty much flawless. Her comic timing is completely perfect. Her on screen persona is on high voltage. And everything about the film is highly effective.
2. GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953)
Lorelei Lee was the performance that truly broke Marilyn Monroe into the big time. And rightfully so. This film was written for her in movie heaven, it was always in her stars to be in this film. Her performance may be pure comedy, but playing a money hungry, diamond-addicted showgirl is harder then it looks. Monroe’s Lorelei Lee has no flat moments, no boring line readings and she is on note in every single way in every single scene. From re-enacting “how cobra’s eat goats” all the way to her iconic performance of the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”, Monroe was definitely one of the greatest performances of that single film year.
1. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
Let’s take a moment to thank legendary director Billy Wilder for taking a chance on the “difficult” Marilyn Monroe for giving her the role of Sugar in one of the greatest comedies ever written. Because of Wilder’s direction and gift with actors, he was able to bring out a whole new heart in Marilyn. A performance that doesn’t only scream comedy, but sincerity, soul and spirit as well. I feel like her performance in “Some Like It Hot” was a true showcase of her skills, and was everything she had learned in her short career. She was simply splendid. The role of Sugar could not have been played by anyone. Monroe gives the role its ultimate justice. I know what I’m watching tonight!