The absolute definition of a superstar, Miss Monroe was ideal and eye-popping as a light comic actress. After she perfected her patented persona -- the breathy, naive, blonde bombshell -- circa 1953, she became a megawatt ingredient for splashy Hollywood comedies. Meanwhile, in dramas, her almost cartoonish aura could make her seem out of orbit, otherworldly, not unlike Jessica Rabbit in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Take a look at dreamy Marilyn fluff -- and try to keep your eyes on the gags.
Long pegged in critical circles as the best comedy of the sound era, the American Film Institute designated writer-producer-director Billy Wilder's convoluted sex lark Number One on its 2000 list of "The 100 Funniest American Movies Of All Time." Other pictures are more laughable, but you'd be hard pressed to find one better built. Desperate musicians (Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon) race into drag, joining an all-girls band to remain alive. Top billed Marilyn is a bit secondary, but all Sugar.
What a package! (I'm talking about the movie here, people.) Howard Hawks ("I Was a Male War Bride") directs Monroe and her notoriously sexy equal Jane Russell in a film of Anita Loos' book and stage play. Unquestionably, it is Marilyn's finest spotlight. The cruise ship showgirls romp and romance to Paris, singing five tunes, including "Two Little Girls From Little Rock" and the iconic "Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend." If possible, watch the restored DVD transfer; the color is stunning.
Not to be confused with Groucho and the boys' 1931 "Monkey Business," director Howard Hawks ("Bringing Up Baby") tailored this uproarious slapstick farce for Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers. Nearing the end of her supporting roles phase, Marilyn is credited fourth behind blustery Charles Coburn. She enhances several sequences and provides sexual tension. When chemist Cary concocts a turn-back-the-decades youth formula with the unknown assistance of his chimp, fast transformations and hijinks ensue!
The pin-up girl of the '40s, Betty Grable, teams with the pin-up of the '50s, Marilyn Monroe. Lauren Bacall, herself a woman of tack holes, rounds out this hubby hunting trio hellbent to snare checkbooks and, okay, gents. They pool resources, sharing an apartment and secrets, while dating the likes of William Powell, Rory Calhoun, and David Wayne. There is one little hitch: love. Directed by Jean Negulesco ("Three Coins in the Fountain"), "Millionaire" is the first CinemaScope widescreen comedy.
It's a long, hot summer in the city. Your wife of 84 or so months is away for the season and there's no one around except the (OH, BOY! WHAT A) girl upstairs. A mind can wonder, as it does for lonesome Tom Ewell. Director-writer Billy Wilder was forced to neuter the hit Broadway script of infidelity, thanks to uptight '50s Hollywood. The results are implied amusements, not belly laughs. But who cares? Marilyn is radiant and wearing that white dress we love so much. Mmmmmmm, subway grate...