Marilyn Monroe is easily one of the most famous movie stars of all time. I don’t think you’ll find anyone who doesn’t know who she is. Sadly, most people don’t realize what an incredible actress she was. In addition to a stunning screen presence, she had an amazing comedic and dramatic talent. In the early 1950s, when she was still in mostly supporting roles, she was quite a scene stealer. When she started getting lead roles, she just sparkled in film after film after film. It’s tragic that she died so young. Who knows where her career would have gone.
Monroe made many, many films that are so incredible well known. Some Like It Hot was named the greatest comedy of all time by the American Film Institute. The Seven Year Itch, The Misfits, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and How to Marry a Millionaire, among others, are considered to be classics. But she also made a lot of really good films that aren’t particularly well known today.
Don’t Bother to Knock (Roy Ward Baker, 1952)
In this unsettling sort-of-noir, Monroe gives an excellent performance as a mentally disturbed woman opposite Richard Widmark. It’s really a pretty disturbing film for Hollywood in the 1950s. Monroe’s character is babysitting a couple’s kid in a hotel, but thanks to the fact that she’s kind of crazy, she does a really bad job of it. Like, tying the kid up kind of bad job. This is one of Monroe’s best performances. It’s really very subtle and natural, and while you’re appalled by how poorly she’s doing her job, your heart really breaks for her when you see just how sad her instability is. Widmark also gives a very good performance, and his chemistry with Monroe is interesting and unique.
Home Town Story (Arthur Pierson, 1951)
This isn’t a great movie at all, but it’s a decent little newspaper drama with a really charming performance from Monroe. It is blatantly patriotic, but it’s hardly the only film from the era of McCarthyism to carry the “America is Awesome” message. In addition to Monroe, the cast is interesting enough to make this movie worth watching.
Bus Stop (Joshua Logan, 1956)
Monroe got the chance to really put her acting talents on display in Bus Stop, showing off in this drama-comedy. You know, a dramady, if you will. The wide range of emotions she shows in this movie is really incredible, proof that she was a truly gifted actress. Before this she had played mostly breathless blonds, but she left that persona behind to play a hardened, disappointed woman looking for love.
By Katie Richardson