Thursday, October 20, 2011

Top 10: Sexiest Marilyns

I said it before, and I'll just reiterate, I am not too excited about the two new bio-pics about Marilyn Monroe, one of which was just released at NYFF and Mill Valley Film Festival called My Weekend With Marilyn with Michelle Williams in the lead. You can read my post regarding what I think of all of it here. 
Without getting too serious or uppity about it, I know everyone is starting to Netflix the films of Marilyn Monroe so they have something to compare Michelle Williams' and later Naomi Watts' performances to. I'll be the first to say this, not all of Marilyn's films are gems of cinema. Some are quite dull, but she did work with some of the best directors in the business, among them: Billy Wilder, Otto Preminger, George Cukor, and John Huston, but no one was more of a loyal ally to her than the camera. Lame alert: Whether in black & white or technicolor, Marilyn cemented her status as the undisputed quintessential sex symbol. She's pretty much it folks, that's where the bar is, and no one since has yet raised it, and I don't expect many will. Please enjoy the following list of performances I believe to be her most seductive, sultry, pouty, finessed, plunging, fierce, and memorable. Everyone and their mother can take lessons on being a woman from them. Enjoy! 

10. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) dir. Howard Hawks
Marilyn plays the dimwitted but lovable Lorelei Lee, a showgirl and gold digger that sets off on a cruise ship adventure with her partner in crime and fellow showgirl played by Jane Russell. 
9. The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) dir. Laurence Olivier
The process of making the film is what My Week with Marilyn is based on. Marilyn plays again...a showgirl named Elsie who seduces Laurence Olivier's stuffy prince character. 
8. Let's Make Love (1960) George Cukor
Marilyn sings 'My Heart Belongs to Daddy' in a tight sweater and black panty hose. Done. 
7. The Asphalt Jungle (1950) dir. John Huston
This is a bit part for Marilyn, she was about 24, it was her first film, made right before All About Eve (1951). She plays much younger mistress to the main character who has a way of getting what she wants no matter what and not using too much effort to get it. 
6. Bus Stop (1956) Joshua Logan
This is a really beautiful film, the first Marilyn made after studying under Lee Strassberg at the Actor's Studio. She plays a down and out small time waitress/entertainer at a seedy nightclub named Cherie who get's coerced into marrying a young enthusiastic stud but wants nothing of him. There's a pretty provocative-for-the-times scene with her naked in bed. That's Netflix incentive right there. 
5. River of No Return (1954) dir. Otto Preminger
This is one of my favorite films not just of Marilyn's but completely. Preminger + Robert Mitchum = awesome. It's a scientific fact. Marilyn almost doesn't look like herself in this one, wearing a long flowing wig and donning bone corsets and pantalettes. She's almost magical in this film, completely out of her element but it works. 
4. Some Like it Hot (1959) dir. Billy Wilder
If you haven't seen this film, well I just feel sorry for you. It consistently tops best-of lists and critic's pics, and is considered widely to be the best comedy of all time. Marilyn is Sugar Cane, an unlucky-in-love ukelele player in an all-girl's jazz band during the prohibition era who befriends Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in drag running from gangsters, it's a beautiful farce. Oh and she wears dresses that barely cover her nipples for most of it. 
3. The Seven Year Itch (1955) dir. Billy Wilder
Another Billy Wilder classic and the film that gave us Marilyn's infamous up-skirt scene, which ironically was cut out and reshot to where the skirt barely went over her knees while originally it went pretty much over her head. She plays a nameless upstair's neighbor of the every-man character that Tom Ewell portrays who tempts him into cheating on his wife while she's away for the Summer. Marilyn has never filled out a strapless dress quite like this. Makes me want champagne and potato chips every time. 
2. The Misfits (1961) John Huston
Written for her by her husband at the time Arthur Miller, this film proved to be a full on disaster. Marilyn's antics were by now legendary as well as her co-star Montgomery Clift's. She is said to have hated the role that so well imitated her real life. She played Rosalind, a woman who captures the hearts of three drifter cowboys and strives to keep her demons at bay as she starts a new life. 
1. Niagara (1953) dir. Henry Hathaway
Marilyn plays evil and scheming femme fatale Rose Loomis the much younger wife of George Loomis (Joseph Cotton) who convinces her new boyfriend to murder her husband. But all of that really doesn't matter. There is this pink dress that she wears in one scene where all the young cats at the hotel at Niagara Falls are having a drink and dancing. She walks out and asks one of them to play her record, then she sings along in a sultry voice to 'Kiss'. It's almost too much.  

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