Five Classic Marilyn Monroe Movies to See Before My Week with Marilyn

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Marilyn Monroe was known and celebrated for her full figure and ample curves, which have dominated much of the discussion in anticipation of two new Monroe biopics: My Week with Marilyn and Blonde

Last year, the films' directors announced that Michelle Williams would take on Monroe in My Week with Marilyn and Naomi Watts would play her in Blonde. Immediately, the blogosphere lit up with scrutiny of "the dueling Marilyns."

On November 23, My Week with Marilyn hits select theaters. Williams has already received heaps of critical praise for her portrayal of Monroe -- both in presentation and performance. And all we have to see from Blonde is one image of the skinny Watts doing her best Monroe (yikes).

Before you go to see My Week with Marilyn, catch up on your classic Monroe films with these five picks:

5. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)


As Pola, Marilyn Monroe throws in with fellow bombshells Lauren Bacall (Schatze) and Betty Grable (Loco) to try to catch an eligible millionaire. It's one of Monroe's

most physically comedic performances:

Her legally blind Pola refuses to wear her glasses around men because, as she says,

"Men aren't attentive to girls who wear glasses." 

This leads to some wacky mix-em-ups and a lot of walking into things as she cheerfully stumbles about on her quest for true love (or, at least, true wealth).

Memorable Line: "Maybe, but she's awfully clever with a quarter."

4. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)


Easily one of Monroe's most iconic films, this musical features her famous rendition of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." And strangely enough,

the original is way more kinky than modern-day performances:

Look out for the bizarre, S&M chandeliers made of women. 

 As the sweetly naive - and yet wise beyond her years - Lorelei Lee, Monroe easily earns the affection of cynical best friend Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell, who put her hands in the cement next to Monroe outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre) and audiences.

Memorable Line: "Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?"

3. Niagara (1953)


The sweetly comic Monroe is absent in this film noir, in favor of a sultry, sensual, and scheming femme fatale. As the unfaithful and combative Rose Loomis, Monroe drives her husband George (Joseph Cotten) off the edge. 

The film is particularly memorable for camera placement and use of lighting to create those signature film-noir shadows. It's worth seeing to experience Monroe in a very different role - and there's a reason they call them deadly curves - but you'll be just as happy to get back to the Monroe who makes you want to start saying "honey."

Memorable Line: "Listen. For a dress like that, you've got to start laying plans when you're about thirteen."

2. The Seven Year Itch (1955)


This adaptation of a play still feels a lot like a play, trapped mostly in a single set with lengthy (and we mean lengthy) soliloquies by main character Tom Ewell (Richard Sherman). After his wife and son leave for summer vacation, Tom is left alone in New York City - alone, that is, until he meets the upstairs renter, called simply The Girl (Monroe). 

 When Monroe's on screen, this film is a delight; her cutesy dialogue is riddled with innuendo (it's also the origin of the iconic moment when her dress flies up over her legs in the breeze from the subway grate). Watch for the early scene at Tom's publishing office, when he updates a copy of Little Women by adding the subtitle The Secrets of a Girls Dormitory and drawing lower-cut necklines on the front-cover illustration.

Memorable Line: "Hey, did you ever try dunking a potato chip in champagne? It's real crazy!"

1. Some Like It Hot (1959)


Monroe worked with director Billy Wilder again in this wildly funny film about two musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who flee the mob in drag as part of an all-women band. Joe (Curtis) falls hard for Monroe's sweet and sensual Sugar Kane, who for her part

almost falls out of her dress

in much of the film. 

Like so many of Monroe's films, Some Like It Hot showcases the bombshell's ability to seem like the most caring, open, and friendly best friend a girl - or a guy dressed as a girl - could ever ask for. And for someone as stunningly gorgeous as Monroe was (often caught up in the scornful gossip that all beautiful women get and Elizabeth Taylor deserved), that's an incredible feat.

Memorable Line: "Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop."

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