Every Marilyn Monroe Movie Ranked

Whether she was playing a bit part or the bombshell lead, Marilyn Monroe radiated star quality in each of her roles. The actress was effortlessly photogenic, but in addition, she was a genuinely fantastic screen performer.

Throughout her career, she was cast over and over as a secretary, trophy date, gold digger, bathing beauty, or showgirl. Despite having to work within these gender cliches, Monroe’s portrayals transcended typecasting.

To prove it, Stacker used IMDb for all feature films starring Marilyn Monroe and ranked them by user rating, with ties broken by votes. All 29 of her features were included, even those in which she went uncredited.

Monroe’s career started in 1948 and she was a major movie star by 1953, a banner year that included the release of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” which featured the popular number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” She started her own production company in 1955, aiming for roles with substance, such as in “Bus Stop” and “The Misfits,” before her tragic death in 1962.

Monroe’s signature character trait was to convey high-key sexuality while at the same time being innocent of its effects, as in the iconic scene where she stands over a subway grate in “The Seven Year Itch.” At the same time, her charisma carries a sense of awareness about the system in which she’s caught.

Take a trip down Monroe’s movie memory lane and see where your favorite flick places on the list.

Marilyn Monroe and Alan Hale Jr. in a scene from

Wolverine productions

#29. Home Town Story (1951)

– Director: Arthur Pierson
– IMDb user rating: 5
– Runtime: 61 minutes

“Home Town Story” was produced by General Motors as a feature-length educational commercial on capitalist goodness—a journalist learns about the benevolence of big business after his kid sister gets saved by corporate resources. Monroe plays a secretary at a newspaper, and in her one main scene in a quick bit part, she mesmerizes. Monroe’s already developed her unique vocal style and facial expression.

Marilyn Monroe, Scotty Beckett, and Dickie Moore in a scene from

SOL m. Wurtzel productions

#28. Dangerous Years (1947)

– Director: Arthur Pierson
– IMDb user rating: 5.6
– Runtime: 62 minutes

In this low-budget drama about the dangerous teenage years when small-town delinquents are pulled into a life of crime, Monroe has a bit part as a soda shop waitress. She manages to command attention as Evie, a server who chides one of the teens for not being able to pay his bill and upgrades an otherwise throwaway line about blowing money on two Cokes in her first released film.

Marilyn Monroe in a scene from

Thor productions

#27. The Fireball (1950)

– Director: Tay Garnett
– IMDb user rating: 5.8
– Runtime: 84 minutes

Mickey Rooney plays a delinquent who gets caught up in the roller derby scene before being stricken with polio in this skate genre drama. Monroe has a tiny part and just a few scenes, typecast as arm candy, but she still manages to stand out with a luminous presence and charming delivery of otherwise throwaway lines.

Groucho Marx, Marilyn Monroe, and Otto Waldis in a scene from

Artists alliance

#26. Love Happy (1949)

– Director: David Miller
– IMDb user rating: 5.8
– Runtime: 85 minutes

In this Marx Brothers comedy, Monroe has a super quick walk-in, walk-out role. Her physical beauty sets up Groucho Marx’s punchline, “That’s been the history of all my romances,” as Monroe’s character sashays out the door. Marx reports she was paid $100 for the part and auditioned with two other women but easily stood out as the one to choose.

Marilyn Monroe in a publicity still from 1948

George rinhart/Corbis via getty images

#25. Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948)

– Director: F. Hugh Herbert
– IMDb user rating: 5.9
– Runtime: 95 minutes

Monroe shows up briefly in two shots in this family drama that takes place on a farm. Monroe goes uncredited, and her appearance—in one of her first film roles—is what makes the otherwise forgettable “Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!” notable. It also features a rousing performance by 10-year-old Natalie Wood.

Marilyn Monroe and Dick Powell in a scene from

Metro-goldwyn-mayer (MGM)

#24. Right Cross (1950)

– Director: John Sturges
– IMDb user rating: 6.1
– Runtime: 90 minutes

Monroe has an uncredited role in this boxing movie that stars Ricardo Montalbán as a famous fighter with a hurt hand. Dick Powell plays a sports reporter who, in a brief scene, comes on to a woman played by Monroe in a restaurant. There’s a brief double-entendre laced exchange about her coming to his place for lunch, and Monroe delivers the line, “I know the ingredients,” with a knowing panache.

Marilyn Monroe and Chief Thundercloud in

Twentieth century fox

#23. A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950)

– Director: Richard Sale
– IMDb user rating: 6.1
– Runtime: 90 minutes

This forgettable Western stars Anne Baxter as a cowgirl deputy trying to outwit an outlaw gang and protect a train making its way through the Rockies. Monroe plays one of four dance hall girls who, along with their manager, make the journey west alongside the train. In a campfire number, the women perform in miniskirts and feather hats—a rare musical interlude in the Western genre—and Monroe manages to stand out from the crowd.

Marilyn Monroe, Claudette Colbert, Macdonald Carey, and Zachary Scott in

Twentieth century fox

#22. Let’s Make It Legal (1951)

– Director: Richard Sale
– IMDb user rating: 6.1
– Runtime: 77 minutes

In a small role as a gold-digging socialite, Monroe embodies typecasting. Her part as Joyce offers a foil to the more family-oriented conventional women, including Claudette Colbert, as a woman on the brink of divorce, and her grown daughter, played by Barbara Bates. Monroe’s role, like others, shows up as a threat to traditional gender and marriage, themes that win out in the end.

Marilyn Monroe and Adele Jergens in

Columbia pictures

#21. Ladies of the Chorus (1948)

– Director: Phil Karlson
– IMDb user rating: 6.1
– Runtime: 61 minutes

In Monroe’s first starring role, she plays a burlesque performer wooed by a rich man whose family disapproves. Adele Jergen, just nine years older, plays her mother and both women are caught up in a socialite world that judges their social status and line of work. Monroe’s scenes often include intercuts of an enthralled audience watching her perform.

Marilyn Monroe in a scene from

Twentieth century fox

#20. Love Nest (1951)

– Director: Joseph M. Newman
– IMDb user rating: 6.2
– Runtime: 84 minutes

Monroe frequently returns to a role as a threat to marriage, and her supporting turn as Bobbie in “Love Nest” is an early example. The dramedy focuses on the marital conflicts of a couple who purchased a run-down apartment building in need of repairs. Bobbie is one of the tenants who causes havoc for the landlords, but mostly because of the wife’s jealousy and suspicion.

Marilyn Monroe, James Gleason, and David Wayne in a scene from

Twentieth century fox

#19. We’re Not Married! (1952)

– Director: Edmund Goulding
– IMDb user rating: 6.4
– Runtime: 86 minutes

In this rom-com anthology, Monroe is cast for the first and only time as a mother. She plays a pageant queen, Mrs. Mississippi, whose fed-up husband has her title removed when he finds out they aren’t legally married. The vignette follows her husband’s anger over having to assume the role of the caregiving homemaker due to his wife’s success.

Marilyn Monroe, Mitzi Gaynor, and Donald O'Connor in

Twentieth century fox

#18. There’s No Business Like Show Business (1954)

– Director: Walter Lang
– IMDb user rating: 6.4
– Runtime: 117 minutes

In this widescreen Irving Berlin spectacle with elaborate costumes and musical numbers, Marilyn Monroe plays Vicky, paired with Donald O’Connor, as her love interest, Tim. Tim is part of a vaudeville family that includes Ethel Merman as Mom and Mitzi Gaynor as his sister. The film includes the show-stopping titular song and Monroe numbers, “Lazy” and “After You Get What You Want You Don’t Want It,” performed in a nude-colored dress with white spray cut-outs that match her headpiece.

Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand in

Twentieth century fox

#17. Let’s Make Love (1960)

– Director: George Cukor
– IMDb user rating: 6.4
– Runtime: 119 minutes

Monroe shines as an off-Broadway actress in this backstage musical also starring French Italian star Yves Montand as the billionaire who falls for her and poses as an actor to get closer. “Let’s Make Love” was released to middling fanfare, but Monroe’s final musical performance exudes her signature charm and unique vocal stylings.

Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in

Warner bros.

#16. The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)

– Director: Laurence Olivier
– IMDb user rating: 6.4
– Runtime: 115 minutes

The behind-the-scenes drama between actor-director Laurence Olivier and Monroe became the subject of the 2011 feature film starring Michelle Williams as the blonde bombshell. In “The Prince and the Showgirl,” which flopped at the box office, Olivier plays fictional royalty who finds himself caught up with the American showgirl played by Monroe. She was looking to be taken seriously as an actress but clashed with the staid thespian style of her costar and director.

Marilyn Monroe and Hope Lange in

Twentieth century fox

#15. Bus Stop (1956)

– Director: Joshua Logan
– IMDb user rating: 6.4
– Runtime: 96 minutes

Monroe’s own production company was behind “Bus Stop,” a literary adaptation that offered the star a dramatic role that veered from the usual cliches. The premise is shocking to modern audiences: A passionate and innocent cowboy kidnaps an “angel” and insists she marry him despite her repeated refusal. Monroe stars as Chérie in an acclaimed performance as the Midwestern singer with a painful past who’s the object of affection.

Marilyn Monroe in a scene from

Twentieth century fox

#14. As Young as You Feel (1951)

– Director: Harmon Jones
– IMDb user rating: 6.5
– Runtime: 77 minutes

The plot of this comedy involves a 65-year-old man’s scheme to keep his job by posing as a younger man with more power. Monroe has a small part as a secretary, a frequent early role, and becomes an accessory to antics between men. In one scene, after she ushers men into a meeting, she stops before a mirror, highlighting the emphasis on her looks.

Marilyn Monroe and Tommy Rettig in

Twentieth century fox

#13. River of No Return (1954)

– Directors: Otto Preminger, Jean Negulesco
– IMDb user rating: 6.6
– Runtime: 91 minutes

Monroe stars as a saloon singer, Kay, in this Western with Robert Mitchum as Matt, an ex-con single dad. The pair are thrown together with Matt’s son for a series of wilderness adventures—Monroe’s costume is jeans for much of the film. The closing shots offer some measure of hope that Kay can escape a life of objectification in saloons.

Marilyn Monroe and Elisha Cook Jr. in

Twentieth century fox

#12. Don’t Bother to Knock (1952)

– Director: Roy Ward Baker
– IMDb user rating: 6.8
– Runtime: 76 minutes

Monroe gives one of her best and most overlooked performances as Nell, an unstable woman whose brother gets her a gig as a babysitter, in this noir thriller that takes place entirely in a Manhattan hotel. Nell’s tragic delusions emerge alongside her increasingly dangerous behavior, especially toward the young girl she’s watching. Monroe gives Nell a haunting anguish that commands empathy.

Marilyn Monroe and David Wayne in

Twentieth century fox

#11. How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

– Director: Jean Negulesco
– IMDb user rating: 6.8
– Runtime: 95 minutes

This rom-com is one of the hits that catapulted Monroe to stardom in 1953. She stars alongside heavy hitters Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, as three single models on the hunt for rich husbands. This is one of Monroe’s most iconic roles as a ditzy blonde somehow unaware of her gargantuan beauty. The point’s driven home in her character Pola’s poor eyesight, but Monroe still looks smashing in rhinestone-covered, cat-eye glasses.

Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, and Charles Coburn in a scene from

Twentieth century fox

#10. Monkey Business (1952)

– Director: Howard Hawks
– IMDb user rating: 6.9
– Runtime: 97 minutes

Monroe is often cast in supporting roles that enable plot conflict between a lead couple as in the rom-com “Monkey Business.” Cary Grant plays a scientist who believes he’s invented a Fountain of Youth-like concoction. Ginger Rogers stars as his wife, and when the couple both imbibe the substance, high jinks rock the marriage. Monroe is the scientist’s young secretary who makes his wife jealous and makes him feel young.

Marilyn Monroe and Robert Ryan in

Wald/Krasna productions

#9. Clash by Night (1952)

– Director: Fritz Lang
– IMDb user rating: 7
– Runtime: 105 minutes

Fritz Lang’s sordid melodrama expresses the brute conflicts between men and women as Barbara Stanwyck plays a scandalous woman, Mae, who returns home and tries to reform but is pulled into motherhood and another affair. Monroe plays Peggy, Mae’s brother’s girlfriend, who embodies a more traditional woman, but who still clashes with the men in her life.

Marilyn Monroe in a scene from

Twentieth century fox

#8. Niagara (1953)

– Director: Henry Hathaway
– IMDb user rating: 7
– Runtime: 92 minutes

Monroe’s turn in “Niagara” catapulted her into a spotlight that would never dim. She stars opposite Joseph Cotten in this brooding, Technicolor noir thriller that offers a scathing look at marriage and betrayal. Monroe gives a stunning, dramatic performance that incorporates costume and makeup, her signature sultriness, alongside shattering violence.

Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Twentieth century fox

#7. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

– Director: Howard Hawks
– IMDb user rating: 7.1
– Runtime: 91 minutes

Monroe dazzles in Howard Hawks’ campy musical that features the iconic, often imitated “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” number. She plays a showgirl, Lorelei, who embarks on a cruise ship with her bestie, Dorothy (Jane Russell), with the men’s Olympic gymnastic team in tow. Lorelei finds herself embroiled in a fracas over a diamond tiara and at odds with her fiancé in this masterful classic comedy that calls into question the values it seems to espouse.

Marilyn Monroe and Tom Ewell in

Twentieth century fox

#6. The Seven Year Itch (1955)

– Director: Billy Wilder
– IMDb user rating: 7.1
– Runtime: 105 minutes

In “The Seven Year Itch,” Monroe plays a woman known only as The Girl, the bombshell neighbor of a man whose wife and child are away for the summer. The man (Tom Ewell) has elaborate fantasies about The Girl, his wife, and other women as he imagines having an affair. The film features one of Monroe’s most iconic scenes when she revels in the feel of air from a subway grate cooling her body under her white sundress.

Marilyn Monroe, Charles Laughton, and Robert Foulk in

Twentieth century fox

#5. O. Henry’s Full House (1952)

– Directors: Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, Henry King, Henry Koster, Jean Negulesco
– IMDb user rating: 7.2
– Runtime: 117 minutes

Monroe’s role is credited as Streetwalker in this anthology film that features five short adaptations of O. Henry stories with writer John Steinbeck as narrator. Monroe’s segment, “The Cop and the Anthem,” follows a homeless man looking to get imprisoned so he’ll have shelter for the winter months. He approaches Monroe’s character on a shop corner and treats her with respect and dignity as a cop observes them both with suspicion.

Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe in

Seven arts productions

#4. The Misfits (1961)

– Director: John Huston
– IMDb user rating: 7.2
– Runtime: 125 minutes

“The Misfits,” a lonely-hearts Western about loss and love, was the final film for screen legends Monroe and Clark Gable. The iconic classic, shot in black and white and plagued by production problems, was a box-office bomb at the time of its release. It’s now recognized as a somber masterwork of director John Huston with riveting performances by Monroe and Gable.

Marilyn Monroe, Sterling Hayden, and Jean Hagen in

Metro-goldwyn-mayer (MGM)

#3. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

– Director: John Huston
– IMDb user rating: 7.8
– Runtime: 112 minutes

“The Asphalt Jungle,” along with “All About Eve,” is considered to mark Monroe’s arrival as a notable star. John Huston directed this acclaimed heist-gone-wrong film, and Monroe has a small role as Angela, the mistress of a con man busted by police. Angela breaks during an emotional interrogation, which demonstrates Monroe’s ability to scene-steal even during a throwaway part.

Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Baxter, and George Sanders in

Twentieth century fox

#2. All About Eve (1950)

– Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
– IMDb user rating: 8.2
– Runtime: 138 minutes

Monroe had an early breakout role in this Best Picture Oscar winner with a record 14 nominations, in scenes alongside powerhouse actress Bette Davis. Somewhat typecast, Monroe plays Claudia, a hopeful starlet looking for a leg up from producers. It’s a bit part for Monroe, but she’s stunning as she delivers zingers about the industry.

Marilyn Monroe in a scene from

Ashton productions

#1. Some Like It Hot (1959)

– Director: Billy Wilder
– IMDb user rating: 8.2
– Runtime: 121 minutes

In this acclaimed screwball comedy, Monroe steals the show amid performances by legendary actors Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. Here, she plays the singer Sugar Kane, and her performance of “I Wanna Be Loved by You” is emblematic of the star’s charisma, combining vulnerability with effortless watchability. Black-and-white cinematography highlights Monroe’s unique beauty as she’s wooed by Curtis’ character Joe, who poses as a woman in this send-up of traditional gender roles.