February is–and always has been–one of my favorite months of the year. It’s cozy and sweet and full of sweeping romance. February is the month that celebrates so many of the things I hold most dear…Valentine’s Day (it’s not just a Hallmark Holiday, people!), President’s Day (pay it forward to good old Abe and George), as well as the peak of awards season (The Grammy’s and the Oscar’s might as well be national holidays for an entertainment fanatic such as myself). My birthday also happens to be in February, so it only makes sense that the entire month is brimming with magic for me. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day being a mere week away, as well as the fact that Oscar night is upon us, I have decided to bring those two things together and write my first February Celebration post about my top five Marilyn Monroe films (all of which center on some plot of life and love).
There’s just something about Marilyn. Some say she’s overrated, she was a floozy, a boozer, a druggie. To those slanderous jerks, I turn the other cheek and instead revere the adorable blonde as I always have. Say what you like, but no one pulls off the innocent sexiness of Marilyn, and very few can keep me enamored more than she in the five golden films I’ve selected. Here you go, and happy Marilyn-ing, my friends.
Monkey Business (1952- 20th Century Fox): Nothing can ever go wrong when you throw Marilyn Monroe and Carey Grant together (as far as I’m concerned, nothing can go wrong when Carey Grant is involved, period). The silliness of this film is reminiscent of Bringing Up Baby (also starring Grant, and also directed by Howard Hawks), and is entertaining if not wholly believable (an elixir of youth concocted by a monkey?) Monroe only plays a supporting part in the film, but her and Grant together on screen are pure gold.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1952-20th Century Fox): Diamonds are a girls best friend! This film is fun and delightful to watch for multiple reasons–the costumes, the sets, the musical numbers. Monroe is fiery and endearing as ever–especially when she faces her beau’s rich daddy at the film’s end and convinces him to support their engagement.
The Misfits (1961-United Artists): I had to throw a non-comedy into the mix to show that the icon did do other types of films! This film is a drama in more than one way…both on screen and off, the story is full of divorce, heartbreak, life’s complexities, and lots of drinking. Screenwriter Arthur Miller and Monroe underwent their divorce during filming, and Monroe herself started withering away and fully losing a grasp on sobriety and wellness. This many-leveled tragedy made for a moving film, however, with all star performances from Monroe and her costar, the ever-charismatic Clark Gable (best known as the dear, enchanting Rhett Butler).
The Seven Year Itch (1955-20th Century Fox): By far one of the greatest achievements of Monroe’s career, and all without any trace of actual acting on her part! Her ditsy sweetness and obliviousness is delivered without a hitch, as though Marilyn walked off the street onto set in one fluid motion. From her declaring how embarrassing it was for the plumber to find her in the bath tub without a drop of nail polish on her toes, to her endearing preference of chopsticks over Rachmaninoff, nothing is more of a treat to watch than Marilyn’s whimsy and Tom Ewell’s idiotic, adulterous fantasies.
Some Like it Hot (1959-United Artists): I’ve obviously saved the best for last, people. Probably my all-time favorite movie, Some Like it Hot is a work of pure comedic genius. Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis fully deliver as two of the biggest, most lovable fools that ever posed as women in a traveling musical ensemble. Monroe’s character, Sugar, is sensitive and gullible and just the tiniest amount of tough. Filmed at the beautiful Hotel del Coronado, this film is a treat from the beginning to famous end–with the unforgettable Osgood as just one of many hilarious supporting characters. If you only watch one from this list of recommendations, please let it be this one! This is Billy Wilder at his best, Monroe at her best, Lemmon and Curtis at their best…hell, this may even be humanity at its best. If one film were to ever survive as a display of the hilarity and sheer pleasure that a movie can deliver, let it be Some Like it Hot.