Born Norma Jean Baker, Marilyn Monroe has become one of the most recognizable faces of American film history. Her beauty and Grace became synonymous with Hollywood’s Golden age, starring in 29 films over a 16 year period.
Her life was surrounded by style and opulence, and her charm turned her into one of Hollywood’s Golden icons. During her career, Marilyn Monroe went from starlet to legend, and some of her movies have become important pieces of cinematic history.
In this list, we’ll be taking a look at the top ten Marilyn Monroe movies of all time.
The Best Marilyn Monroe Movies
Marilyn Monroe is one of the most iconic actresses in Hollywood’s history. She’s remembered for her beauty, but also for her acting abilities and her ability to resonate with audiences throughout the world.
She went on to appear in some of the biggest Hollywood hits of all time. Here is our ten best Marilyn Monroe Movies you can enjoy watching.
#10. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
A role that Marilyn found herself cast into very often was that of the seductress with a heart of gold. Such as the case with How to Marry a Millionaire, a film she made at the beginning of her stardom.
In this film, three friends decided to get themselves some millionaire men to marry, but in the process, what they end up finding is true love.
Being a New star, Marilyn Monroe was still a little insecure when she was working on this film. One of her costars, Lauren Bacall, has gone on record saying that it was a challenge working with Marilyn.
Monroe wasn’t an unpleasant person, but she was a highly insecure one, to the point that she asked for counsel from her acting coach constantly on set.
It seems hard to believe that someone like Marilyn could have stage fright, but we have to remember that in 1953, she was just beginning to make the rounds among the Hollywood stars.
#9. Monkey Business (1952)
In 1952, Marilyn Monroe’s career was already on a meteoric rise. She played a small part in Howard Hawke’s 1952 comedy Monkey Business, a film about a scientist who accidentally discovers the elixir of youth.
This lighthearted flick stars Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers as the lead actors. When Marilyn was a foster child, she used to tape photos of famous Hollywood stars to one of her bedroom walls.
One such star was Cary Grant, so it was indeed a dream come true for Marilyn to appear on the big screen alongside her childhood hero.
#8. Niagara (1953)
Marilyn Monroe and Niagara, a raging torrent of emotion that even nature can’t control. That was the tagline that appeared on the poster of this 1953 thriller.
A great example of film noir movies with all the misguided passions and betrayals that have become a trademark of the genre.
When two couples go to spend their honeymoon in Niagara Falls, they soon discover that not everything is as lovely as it seems.
A deadly plot soon unfolds plummeting the lives of the two couples into a downward spiral of betrayal and infidelity.
1953 was one of the best years of Marilyn’s career, with Niagara being the first movie where she received top billing.
#7. Clash by Night (1952)
One of Marilyn Monroe’s first starring roles, Clash by Night, is a drama film about a woman who returns to her hometown changed by the big city lifestyle.
Marilyn plays Peggy, the girlfriend of one of the main characters, being one of her big roles and directed by none other than Fritz Lang, Marilyn felt a lot of pressure on the movie set and kept missing some of her lines.
This film is one of the most iconic of Marilyn’s career, and it’s not because of her acting skills. During filming, the not famous nude calendar photos of Marilyn surfaced, causing uproar on set.
The production team had to deal with a horde of paparazzi coming to the studio to get an interview with a dazzling starlet.
#6. The Seven Year Itch (1955)
A man tired of seven years of monogamous marriage is tempted by his new neighbor, a commercial actress and former model played by Marilyn Monroe.
The name of the film is a reference to the belief that almost any man is driven to have an extramarital affair in their 7th year of marriage.
In The Seven Year Itch, we see a Marilyn Monroe that’s already consolidated her status as a fashion icon. That said, this film forever changed Marilyn’s public image all thanks to a now-famous wardrobe malfunction.
The iconic image of Marilyn, with her white dress blown upwards by a passing train, comes from this movie. Not only has the dress become an iconic piece of movie history, it also went on to become an integral part of American pop culture.
Even though this might have been one of Marilyn’s most glamorous roles, her personal life wasn’t going as well. Her lifelong bouts with depression were taking a toll on her health, forcing her to slur some of her lines.
#5. The Misfits (1961)
The last film in Marilyn’s career, The Misfits came during a time of great turmoil for the star’s personal life. The movie centers on a recently divorced woman who falls head over heels for a handsome cowboy.
Even though the movie was a commercial failure in 1961, it received great reviews from the critics who acclaimed the Flick’s script and its performances.
The Misfits was released only a month after Marilyn finished her third divorce. Her marriage with Arthur Miller had lasted five years, the longest time she had been married to someone.
Like we mentioned before, this was the last film that Marilyn completed, as she would commit suicide a year and a half later.
Not only was this the last film in her career? It was also the last movie of Clark Gable’s life. Clark Gable died of a heart attack shortly after filming was concluded.
#4. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Widely regarded as Marilyn’s breakthrough role, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes follows the misadventures of two showgirls as they live their lives to the fullest in Paris.
Marilyn plays Lorelei Lee, a blonde dancer with a passion for diamonds and riches. This musical comedy was well received by critics and became a box office success.
In this film, Marilyn dons in a pink dress as she sings Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend in one of the most iconic moments of her career. As her career was just beginning to gain traction, Marilyn was met with some caution by studio executives.
Among the common complaints about her persona was that her voice sounded silly, making the studio think that it would be best to dub over all of her lines.
#3. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
One of the earliest roles in her career, The Asphalt Jungle is an influential film noir movie where Marilyn plays the mistress of one of the main characters, Alonzo D. Emmerich.
The Asphalt Jungle opens with a criminal mastermind being released from prison as she is plotting her next big heist. Even though the heist succeeds, the robbers are faced with unexpected betrayals and solid police work.
Being only a small role, Marilyn didn’t receive top billing for this film, and her name wasn’t even on the original poster. Years later, after her popularity reached the levels of stardom, the poster for The Asphalt Jungle was changed to include Marilyn in a central role.
The actress always mentioned that she was proud of her work in this film, particularly of her last scene with actor Louis Calhern.
#2. All About Eve (1950)
Starring none other than Bette Davis, All About Eve is a drama about an aging Broadway star competing for the love of her friends, with a young ingenue.
Being one of the first films in Marilyn Monroe’s career, she plays a very small role in a film jampacked with Hollywood royalty.
All About Eve was nominated for 14 Academy Awards, winning six of them. It was also one of the first 50 films selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.
Many of the big names tied to the film grew weary of Monroe’s experience, including Bette Davis. Additionally, Marilyn was the talk of the set due to her charming beauty.
Famous actress Zsa Zsa Gábor was frequently seen on set, despite not appearing in the movie. She liked to keep tabs on her new husband, George Sanders, who had to play some scenes with a blonde bombshell.
#1. Some Like It Hot (1959)
A film that pushed the boundaries of what was deemed acceptable in the late 50s, Some Like It Hot is considered to be one of the best comedies of American cinema.
The plot follows a pair of musicians who have to dress in drag to flee from some Mafia gangsters. Marilyn plays Sugar Kane, a gorgeous woman who becomes the love interest of both musicians who compete for her love while keeping their disguises.
The crossdressing in the film was scandalous at the time, with the film even being banned in some states like Kansas.
This was our top 10 list of the best Marilyn Monroe movies ever made. It is a great list of the best Marilyn Monroe movies of all time to watch.
Do you agree with our list? If you have any suggestions or comments please shoot them down in the comments below.