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

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Year: 1956

Director: Fritz Lang

Cast: Dana Andrews, Ida Lupino, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Vincent Price

All the right names are attached to While the City Sleeps. As the opening credits unfolded I noticed pleasant surprise after pleasant surprise. This film features a star studded cast including (in no particular order) Dana Andrews, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, George Sanders, John Drew Barrymore, Vincent Price, Rhonda Fleming, and Howard Duff, just to name a few. This cast portray characters in a movie that shines a light on some unattractive aspects of human nature.

After the death of a rich entrepreneur named Amos Kyne, his top employees struggle for control in this Fritz Lang film filled with twists, and turns. Their goal is to impress Mr. Kyne’s son, played by Vincent Price. Meanwhile, a brutal new serial killer is plaguing the city and they all want to dig up a scoop to secure some stature within the media empire.

This film not only takes a haunting look at the mind of a serial killer but also portrays the cut throat nature of office politics, especially amongst newsmen.

The real success of this film is the twists and turns and the backstabbing amongst all involved in Kyne’s media empire including the women involved with those trying to climb the ladder to prestige and success. Fritz Lang doesn’t pull punches as he depicts the lengths people are willing to go to further their career. The following line, spoken by one of the competitors, depicts just how low a man will go to get a little further ahead, “To get the job I’ll stick a knife into anyone I have to.” While the prominent members of Kyne’s media empire figuratively stick knives into one another a disturbed serial killer is literally murdering woman after woman. The cutthroat world of business is more then adequately likened to the most disturbed criminals found in modern society.

At times the story drags a little bit and considering the subject matter it isn’t nearly as suspenseful and gritty as it could be. Watching these very human characters as they claw at the throats of those standing in their way is not only entertaining but results in a little introspection on just how far each and every one of us might go to get ahead.

By Greg Dickson