Best Marilyn Monroe Movies

Possibly the most iconic Old Hollywood star from the Golden Age of Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe is a star for a reason. Her beauty, her talent, everything about her screams that she’s a star. Yes, she’s beautiful, but she’s also incredibly talented and truly knows how to perform. So, being huge Monroe fans, we’ve decided to rank the top 10 best Marilyn Monroe movies of all time below!

We’ve only included feature films where Monroe plays a lead or a large supporting role (with a few exceptions, noted below). Monroe did it all, and some casual fans of hers may not realize that she dipped her toe into a variety of movie genres, not just the regular old fluffy comedies that she’s known for today.

Remember, this list is based on our opinion, so you may have a completely different idea of how this list should’ve gone — and that’s okay! Enjoy reading below!

The Top 10 Best Marilyn Monroe Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

Honorable Mention: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

  • Genre: Crime / Drama / Film Noir
  • Starring: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Marilyn Monroe
  • Directed by: John Huston

The Asphalt Jungle is such an amazing movie and any film fan should DEFINITELY watch it. However, Marilyn Monroe isn’t heavily featured in it, so we felt it would be odd to add it to this list of her Top 10. But we also didn’t feel right NOT adding it into some capacity. Therefore, we’ve thought it would be best to add it to the list as an honorable mention. Monroe filmed this movie at the beginning of her career, and she’s wonderful here. It’s really interesting to see a young Monroe — and to see the beginnings of her stardom.

The Asphalt Jungle tells the story of a gang of small-time crooks who plot an elaborate jewel heist, per TCM’s brief synopsis. Again, it’s a wonderful film noir. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, and one BAFTA back when it was released. Plus, it was also added to the Criterion Collection at spine #847!

The Asphalt Jungle was nominated for four Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, and one BAFTA.

Honorable Mention: All About Eve (1950)

  • Genre: Drama
  • Starring: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, Celeste Holm, Marilyn Monroe, Thelma Ritter
  • Directed by: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Another fantastic movie that Marilyn Monroe was barely in? All About Eve. Possibly one of the best movies ever made, All About Eve follows an ambitious young actress who tries to take over a star’s career and love life. Monroe has a VERY small role here, but she’s still stunning. Again, it would be weird to add this movie to this list — but it would also be weird to NOT add it. Hence, the Honorable Mention.

All About Eve was nominated for 14 (!) Academy Awards. It’s a REALLY good film. While Marilyn Monroe isn’t in it too much, it’s still a great watch for any Monroe fan! Plus, the film was added to the Criterion Collection at spine #1003!

RELATED: The Top 10 Best Bette Davis Movies of All Time

10. River of No Return (1954)

  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Drama
  • Starring: Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe
  • Directed by: Otto Preminger

While not the best movie she ever made, River of No Return is still one of the best Marilyn Monroe movies ever made. It’s not perfect, and some may not like it, but when you compare it to Monroe’s whole filmography, it does beat out so many others. River of No Return tells the story of a frontier farmer who takes off with his son and a saloon singer, searching after the man who stole his rifle and his horse. It’s a very interesting Monroe film, and definitely a movie every Monroe fan should watch!

9. Clash by Night (1952)

  • Genre: Film Noir / Drama / Romance
  • Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Paul Douglas, Marilyn Monroe
  • Directed by: Fritz Lang

A Barbara Stanwyck vehicle, Marilyn Monroe is a supporting act in Clash by Night — but she’s VERY good. Clash by Night follows an embittered woman who seeks escape in her marriage… but then falls for her husband’s best friend. Monroe is wonderful here, and while she’s not the lead role, this film needed to be a part of her best movies list!

8. Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)

  • Genre: Film Noir / Drama
  • Starring: Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft
  • Directed by: Roy Ward Baker

While Don’t Bother to Knock isn’t the best film made by any means, it still happens to be one of the best Marilyn Monroe movies. The film follows a man with anger issues who finds himself drawn to an unstable young beauty. Monroe was still at the beginning of her career here, and she wouldn’t go on to star in those huge movies as a leading role until about a year or two ahead. But Don’t Bother to Knock was an important stepping stone for Monroe as a leading actress, even if it wasn’t for a huge blockbuster. And it’s still an interesting film to watch!

7. Monkey Business (1952)

  • Genre: Comedy
  • Starring: Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn
  • Directed by: Howard Hawks

Possibly the first big movie where Monroe had a supporting/leading role with HUGE stars (Cary Grant was always at the top of his game until he retired, it seems), Monkey Business is definitely one of her better films. While it’s mainly a Grant and Ginger Rogers movie, Monroe still carves out some special time with her character! Monkey Business follows a scientist whose search for the fountain of youth makes him and his wife regress to childhood. It’s ridiculous, but it’s fun.

RELATED: Cary Grant: Top 10 Movies From the 1930s

6. Niagara (1953)

  • Genre: Film Noir / Thriller
  • Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters
  • Directed by: Henry Hathaway

One of the best early(ish) Monroe films, Niagara follows honeymooners who get mixed up with an obsessive husband and his cheating wife. Monroe is opposite Joseph Cotten here, who is always excellent in everything he’s in. The movie isn’t perfect. But it’s still one of the best Marilyn Monroe movies ever made! And every Monroe fan should definitely see it — just as every Joseph Cotten fan should!

5. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

  • Genre: Comedy / Drama / Romance
  • Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, William Powell
  • Directed by: Jean Negulesco

Listen, How to Marry a Millionaire is enjoyable and fun. And sometimes, that’s all you need in a movie! This film follows three models who pool their resources to rent a posh penthouse in the hopes of snaring rich husbands. Monroe is absolutely hysterical here, proving that she can do comedy no matter what. It’s a classic — and a must-watch!

RELATED: The Top 10 Best William Powell Movies of All Time

4. The Misfits (1961)

  • Genre: Drama / Western / Romance
  • Starring: Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter
  • Directed by: John Huston

By far one of the best Marilyn Monroe movies ever made, Misfits touts a stellar cast like no other. Monty Clift, Clark Gable, and Monroe, all in one film? Amazing. Misfits follows a sensitive divorcee who gets mixed up with modern cowboys roping mustangs in the desert. While it was actually considered something of a box office failure when it was first released (many expected it to do much better, with all the stars in the picture), the movie has since become beloved to many critics, especially modern-day ones.

It’s also hard to ignore the dark history surrounding this film. Only two days after filming ended, Clark Gable suffered a heart attack and then died ten days later. Marilyn Monroe would die within a year and a half. Misfits, therefore, is both Gable’s and Monroe’s last completed film. Montgomery Clift also had a difficult life after this movie (and he had one before shooting it), and he would die after suffering for years in 1966.

Knowing all of this background information — especially about the difficulties Monty Clift and Monroe faced while filming this movie — makes one love it all the more. Monroe actually hated the film and her performance, which is unfortunate. Luckily, the film is still beloved today, and it truly is a must-watch for any Monroe or Old Hollywood fan.

3. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

  • Genre: Musical / Comedy / Romance
  • Starring: Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn
  • Directed by: Howard Hawks

Containing some of the most iconic Marilyn Monroe movie moments, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes tells the story of two singers who work their way to Paris, enjoying the company of men they meet along the way. Monroe is stunning here beside Jane Russell, an Old Hollywood icon in her own right.

When Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was released in 1953, it was a huge success at the box office. It grossed $5.3 million worldwide and was the eighth highest-grossing film that year! The movie was also received quite favorably by critics and audiences alike. Because of the enjoyable film and stunning leads, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has continued to grow in popularity. Plus, it still stands up quite well today. Therefore, it’s definitely one of the best Marilyn Monroe movies!

2. The Seven Year Itch (1955)

  • Genre: Comedy / Romance
  • Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tom Ewell, Carolyn Jones (in a small role)
  • Directed by: Billy Wilder

When many think of Marilyn Monroe, they immediately conjure up the image of a beautiful Monroe in a white dress, the wind blowing her dress up around her. That iconic scene occurs in The Seven Year Itch, making it possibly the most memorable Monroe movie, and definitely one of the best. While great, and while it gave us so many iconic scenes, The Seven Year Itch ends up as #2 on this list. It’s highly enjoyable and really a wonderful movie — so everyone should definitely watch it!

The movie follows a married man who falls for the blonde bombshell upstairs — Monroe, of course — while his wife is away on vacation. Monroe really makes the movie, and there’s a feeling that if anyone else was cast in the picture, it just wouldn’t be the same. The movie was received pretty favorably back in the day by critics, and audiences absolutely loved it. Plus, Monroe was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Foreign Actress for her performance in this film!

1. Some Like It Hot (1959)

  • Genre: Comedy / Romance / Music
  • Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft
  • Directed by: Billy Wilder

Some Like it Hot has everything. It has comedy, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag, and a delightful Marilyn Monroe proving that she really does have comedic acting chops. It’s definitely one of the most enjoyable movies ever made. It also happens to be the absolute BEST Marilyn Monroe movie of all time. This movie, quite simply, never gets old. It is PURE FUN.

The movie follows two musicians who go on the run from gangsters and end up masquerading as members of an all-girl band. It’s hysterical, and Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon are so delightful.

Some Like It Hot was nominated for a whopping six Academy Awards. It won one Oscar: Best Black-and-White Costume Design. It was also nominated for three Golden Globes — and Marilyn Monroe was nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical, of which she won! The film was also nominated for two BAFTAS and Billy Wilder was nominated for a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1959.

Some Like It Hot is also a part of the Criterion Collection at spine #950!

The Best Marilyn Monroe Movies + More Nostalgic News

Comment below what you think about this list of the best Marilyn Monroe movies. Do you agree, or would you include different ones? Hit the comments below with your ideas! I’d love to hear your own Top 10 list!

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