Quick question: what is Marilyn Monroe famous for? If you’re like most people, being an actress may not be at the top of your list. While she’s still notorious for her charisma and as an icon, Marilyn Monroe, actress, often gets overlooked. It’s too bad: Monroe movies don’t all stand the test of time, but some of them do–and the best ones are very, very funny.
Marilyn Monroe’s Best Movies
Without a doubt, the best Marilyn Monroe movies are (in order):
- Some Like It Hot
- How to Marry a Millionaire
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Honorable Mentions: All About Eve and Monkey Business
Some Like It Hot is Marilyn at her absolute best. She’s funny, but there’s a hint of sadness under the surface. She’s sexy, hilarious, and deeply moving, all at once. How to Marry a Millionaire is excellent, and shows how well Monroe plays in a great ensemble (though she may not always have been fun to work with–just ask Laurence Olivier! But then, it doesn’t seem like he was a barrel of laughs on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, either). Lauren Bacall is another stellar reason to check out the film. Finally, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is not only iconic, but it’s also just plain fun.
Marilyn doesn’t star in it, but All About Eve is one of those classic Hollywood pics you just have to see. Count her appearance as a bonus. Monkey Business is on the other end of the spectrum, comic-wise, and has that giggly Marilyn Monroe feeling to it, whether or not she’s in the scene.
As for what to avoid? The Seven Year Itch–though it gave us that famous Marilyn-over-subway-grate photo–is a pain to get through. Even worse, it doesn’t show us half of what the actress is capable. Hard pass on this one.
Also, with all due respect to Audrey Hepburn, how great would Marilyn have been as Holly Golightly?
Ready to hear about the craziest beauty tips from Classic Hollywood? Grace, Audrey, Marilyn and more star in Old Hollywood Glamour!
Marilyn Monroe Filmography
Marilyn Monroe movies list includes a handful of early pictures in which she was uncredited. For our purposes, we’ll only look at the films in which she received billing, even for bit parts.
You get a good sense of Monroe’s career (the typecasting she was subject to) just by looking at the titles of her movies. Let’s Make Love? Are you kidding? That movie would never get made today (well, maybe it would…)
If you need any confirmation about the quality of most of the films here, the Marilyn Monroe movies currently on Netflix should give you a sense of that. There are only two: Don’t Bother to Knock and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. This isn’t a foolproof strategy for evaluating movie quality, obviously (getting the rights to stream films can be tricky–there are only two Audrey Hepburn pictures up there, for example), but it does tell you something about the demand to watch some of these films.
In short: there’s little to no demand for them. And while they may be worth seeing just to get a glimpse of Monroe in action, with a few exceptions, that’s all they’re good for.
- Ladies of the Chorus, 1948
- Love Happy, 1949
- The Asphalt Jungle, 1950
- The Fireball, 1950
- All About Eve, 1950
- Home Town Story, 1951
- As Young as You Feel, 1951
- Love Nest, 1951
- Clash by Night, 1952
- We’re Not Married!, 1952
- Don’t Bother to Knock, 1952
- Henry’s Full House, 1952
- Monkey Business, 1952
- Niagara, 1953
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953
- How to Marry a Millionaire, 1953
- River of No Return, 1954
- There’s No Business Like Show Business, 1954
- The Seven Year Itch, 1955
- Bus Stop, 1956
- The Prince and the Showgirl, 1957
- Some Like It Hot, 1959
- Let’s Make Love, 1960
- The Misfits, 1961
- Something’s Gotta Give (short), 1962