1. Bus Stop (1956)
This hillbilly love story follows rodeo cowboy, Bo (Don Murray) and showgirl Cherie (Marilyn Monroe) as Bo performs an ungentlemanly attempt to make Cherie his wife. The narrative focuses on the physicality of love, lust and attraction as we watch Bo hurl himself around like a pubescent country boy with the desperate need of a lady’s attention. He demands to marry Cherie — regardless of her wishes. Cherie is forced to decipher whether she should actually wed this stud who is embarrassingly obsessed with her, when she finds herself stuck with Bo and his uncle at a bus stop because of a blizzard. This is possibly Marilyn Monroe’s greatest performance. Her accent cannot be faulted, she is sweet, charismatic and the dynamic between herself and Bo makes both performances unforgettable.
2. Some Like It Hot (1959)
Comedy masterpiece. Remade from a 1955 German movie, Some Like it Hot is whimsical, expansive and entertaining. Jerry (Jack Lemmon) and Joe (Tony Curtis) cross-dress their way into an all-female jazz band when they find themselves on the run from deadly gangsters. Wilder, unknowingly (this is 1950s Hollywood, lets remind ourselves) has explored the notion of gender roles — considerably through Jerry/Daphne, who’s frivolous character brings up the issue of sexuality and touches upon Americas consensus towards the subject. Although Curtis and Lemmon’s characters complete this movie, Marilyn Monroe still shines bright alongside them.
3. Niagara (1953)
Henry Hathaway’s technicolour film noir explores jealousy, lust and murder. Niagara contrasts two couples; honeymooners Polly (Jean Peters) and Ray Cutler (Casey Adams) with an unhappily-wed Rose (Marilyn Monroe) and her husband George Loomis (Joseph Cotton), during their stay at a resort at the Niagara Falls. Outbursts of animosity and obsession towards his wife express Georges mental instability, however, his behaviour is somewhat justified when Polly catches Rose cheating. Monroe is often seen dressed in desirable red and pink dresses, walking in a haze and being up to no good. However, it seems the truest beauty within this film is the Niagara falls, with its majestic and stormy aesthetic – beautiful but dangerous.
4. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Va-va-voom. That’s literally all that comes to mind when I think about Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. On the contrary, I believe that actual, real gentlemen, don’t use hair colour as a preference to who they find attractive – I am possibly wrong. Definitely an entertaining watch on the surface, however, the film does rely on stereotypes and cliches; pretty blonde likes shiny things and rich men, rich man likes pretty blonde and will buy her shiny things. Lorelei (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy (Jane Russell) find themselves on a boat trip to Paris where Lorelei intends to bag herself a millionaire. They are sly and seductive, while the camera focuses on the men drooling, you as an audience are able to watch the Male Gaze gaze. A 1950’s Hollywood aesthetic, plus musical elements, PLUS Marilyn’s charm – what more does one want?
Cross them all off your list…