Marilyn Monroe's 10 best movies ranked, according to critics

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marilyn monroe
Marilyn Monroe in "The Seven Year Itch" (1955).

Matty Zimmerman/AP

  • Marilyn Monroe is remembered as the original "blonde bombshell" of Hollywood and appeared in a number of blockbusting smash hits during her life.

  • Even today, 58 years after her death on August 4, 1962, Monroe remains one of the most storied and mythologized figures in film history.

  • We've ranked her 10 best movies, according to critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • A few of Monroe's most famous flicks, including "The Seven Year Itch" and "Some Like It Hot," cracked the top 10, but "Don't Bother to Knock" came out on top as her highest-rated film with a score of 100% fresh.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Marilyn Monroe is remembered for her iconic beauty, effervescent personality, and, unfortunately, her too-short life. 

During her time on the silver screen, Monroe wowed and enchanted audiences across the globe. Regarded as the original "blonde bombshell," the actress won over fans with her natural sex appeal and acting chops.

Here are Marilyn Monroe's 10 best movies, ranked according to critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

Note: All scores were current on the date of publication and are subject to change.

10. "Niagara" (1953)

marilyn monroe niagara
Marilyn Monroe poses for a portrait in front of Niagara Falls dressed as Rose Loomis from the film "Niagara."

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%

Summary: Polly (Jean Peters) and Ray Cutler (Casey Adams) arrive at their Niagara Falls cottage expecting a peaceful honeymoon. However, when they arrive, they find that another couple, Rose (Marilyn Monroe) and George Loomis (Joseph Cotten), have not yet checked out. Shenanigans ensue between the two couples as Polly discovers Rose is having an affair and murderous obsessions rise.

Critic review: "Around the scenic splendor of Niagara Falls, Charles Brackett has produced and co-scripted a gripping murder melodrama that is loaded with sex and suspense," wrote The Hollywood Reporter.

9. "How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953)

Marilyn Monroe How To Marry A Millionaire
Marilyn Monroe and David Wayne in a scene from "How To Marry A Millionaire."

20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%

Summary: Three New York models, Schatze Page (Lauren Bacall), Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable), and Pola Debevoise (Marilyn Monroe), rent a glamorous city apartment with the hope of attracting the right kind of match: millionaires. However, most of their suitors turn out to be deceitful in one way or another. In the end, each of the girls finds what they are truly looking for.

Critic review: "Classic Hollywood legends sparkle; premise doesn't hold up," wrote Common Sense Media.

8. "The Seven Year Itch" (1955)

seven year itch marilyn monroe
Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe in a scene from the movie The Seven Year Itch.

Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%

Summary: After Tom Ewell's wife and children depart the city for the summer, he meets his beautiful — and tempting — new neighbor, played by Marilyn Monroe. The two experience a flirtation as the summer goes on, but Ewell's guilt and paranoia combined with Monroe's naivete prevent a love affair from ever happening.

Critic review: "So arresting is Monroe's presence that when she's not on-screen, we wait impatiently, wondering, Where have you gone, Mrs. DiMaggio?" wrote the Village Voice.

7. "Monkey Business" (1952)

marilyn monroe monkey business
Cary Grant is slapped by Marilyn Monroe as an aghast Charles Coburn watches in a scene from the film "Monkey Business."

20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%

Summary: Dr. Barnaby Fulton (Cary Grant) is searching for the "fountain of youth," without much luck. However, when a lab monkey dumps the formula into the lab's water supply, mischief ensues. When Fulton accidentally drinks the formula, he initiates an afternoon of fun with his boss' secretary, Lois (Marilyn Monroe). Before long, everyone has gotten a taste of the "fountain of youth," with hilarious consequences.

Critic review: "The timing of the gags can put most Hollywood comedies, never mind TV sitcoms, to shame," wrote Time Out.

6. "Some Like It Hot" (1959)

marilyn monroe some like it hot
Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon on the set of the film "Some Like it Hot."

Richard C. Miller/Donaldson Collection/Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%

Summary: Two musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) witness a Mafia murder. In order to get out of Chicago, the two devise a plan to disguise themselves as women, join an all-female jazz band, and board a train headed straight to Florida. On the way, they meet Sugar (Marilyn Monroe), the band's lead singer, who Joe falls in love with and attempts to impress by pretending he's a millionaire.

Critic review: "The pace is fast and the humor — especially Mr. Lemmon's — is often hilarious. It is pleasant to meet again such old familiars as Mr. Raft and Mr. Brown; and Miss Monroe, as always, is irresistible," wrote The Guardian.

5. "The Misfits" (1961)

The Misfits
"The Misfits."

FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%

Summary: Written by Monroe's then-husband Arthur Miller, the film tells the story of a recently divorced, former stripper (Marilyn Monroe) who begins a relationship with a cowboy-turned-gambler (Clark Gable) and World War II veteran named Guido Racanelli (Eli Wallach). Both men soon become infatuated with her. After meeting ex-rodeo rider Perce Howland (Montgomery Clift), the foursome starts up a business capturing wild horses. 

Critic review: "Gable has never done anything better on the screen, nor has Miss Monroe. Gable's acting is vibrant and lusty, hers true to the character as written by Miller," wrote the New York Daily News.

4. "The Asphalt Jungle" (1950)

marilyn monroe the asphalt jungle
Scene from the 1950's "The Asphalt Jungle."

George Rinhart/Corbis/Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%

Summary: Criminal Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider, lawyer Emmerich (Louis Calhern), and safecracker (Anthony Caruso) are among those who concoct a plan to steal $1 million worth of jewels, a plan which goes off successfully at first. However, the jewel heist goes awry after a nightguard shoots and kills Ciavelli and, soon, the group turns on each other. Marilyn Monroe's part as Emmerich's sexy "niece" is small, but the film makes her an undeniable star regardless. 

Critic review: "Armed with a beautifully constructed screenplay, John Huston has fashioned an exciting picture that avoids all the pitfalls of most crime movies," wrote the Associated Press.

3. "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953)

marilyn monroe gentlemen prefer blondes
Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

20th Century Studios

Ok Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

Summary: Showgirl Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) is engaged to wealthy Gus Esmond (Tommy Noonan), much to the disapproval of Gus' father, who believes she is only after his money. When Lorelai and her costar Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) set sail on a cruise, Lorelai tries to set her friend up with a "suitable" — aka, wealthy — match. Meanwhile, Esmond Sr. has hired a private detective to keep an eye on Lorelai and report any actions that would disqualify her from marrying Gus.

Critic review: "If camp comedy capering (don't call it a social satire!) isn't your thing, it's worth the ticket to see Monroe's iconic and flawlessly choreographed performance of Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend (TM): a perfect four minutes of film," wrote Time Out.

2. "All About Eve" (1950)

marilyn monroe all about eve
Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, and George Sanders in "All About Eve."

Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 99%

Summary: "All About Eve" may have a scene or two featuring Marilyn Monroe as a recent college graduate, but this film primarily tells the story of aspiring actress Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) and Broadway star Margo Channing (Bette Davis). After Channing makes the naive-seeming Eve her personal assistant, she soon finds that Harrington isn't so naive after all, and has orchestrated a plan to surpass Channing as the biggest star in town.

Critic review: "All About Eve is not only a brilliant and clever portrait of an actress, it is a downright funny film, from its opening scene to the final fadeout," wrote the New York Daily News.

1. "Don't Bother to Knock" (1952)

marilyn monroe dont bother to knock
Marilyn Monroe fighting in "Don't Bother To Knock."

Mondadori/Getty Images

Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

Summary: Nell Forbes (Marilyn Monroe), a beautiful but suicidal young woman, takes a babysitting job at a fancy hotel after being released from a mental institution. Nell begins a relationship with a hotel guest named Jed Towers (Richard Widmark). However, after the young girl Nell is supposed to be watching catches them, Nell is sent over the deep end. Jed must then attempt to prevent Nell from killing both herself and the child.

Critic review: "Takes what could have been a lurid plot and turns it into a wickedly plotted thriller that remains an overlooked high point in Monroe's storied career," wrote From The Front Row.

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