Marilyn Monroe – Greatest Movie Stars of All Time
Essential Films: Don’t Bother to Knock (1952), Niagara (1952), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954), The Seven Year Itch (1955), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Misfits (1961)
Oscar Dish: None.
DVD You Need to See Right Now: Some Like It Hot (Collector’s Edition) see below.
She is the most sentimentalized star that ever was — “the ‘love goddess’ who never found any love,” as per the title of an essay about her by the putatively tough-minded Clare Boothe Luce. Watching her movies today is a fascinating exercise in separating myth from actress from person, and sometimes seeing them all coalesce into a blinding whole. Her neediness as a near-deranged baby-sitter in Don’t Bother to Knock is almost too raw. Her autopilot bimbo moves in the likes of 1953’s How to Marry a Millionaire and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are deceptively witty; the indolent sexuality she oozes while cooing Irving Berlin’s “Lazy” in There’s No Business Like Show Business is almost frighteningly ingenuous. Director Otto Preminger’s long takes in the somewhat misbegotten western River of No Return (1954) show her both movingly inspired and hopelessly stilted within the same shot. Her most fully realized performance, as the sweet, street-smart, hopelessly romantic Sugar Kane in Hot, was one that was hewn out of seemingly endless, agonizing labor—more than 50 takes for the line “Where’s the bourbon?” But there is no sign of strain onscreen, no hint of tragedy in the singer who perennially gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Only what we sentimentally term “magic.”