On the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death, here's a look at five of her most memorable film performances, the ones that stand out over her prolific but sadly short career:
•"Some Like It Hot" (1959): Monroe is totally magnetic, with innocence and sexuality in equal measure. As the lead singer of an all-girl orchestra, she gets to sing, dance, play the ukulele and show off her comic timing. Monroe finds a tricky balance between her otherworldly looks and a down-to earth charm, and plays beautifully off Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.
•"Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953): Her rendition of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" remains so enduring, it inspired Madonna's "Material Girl" video, down to the blonde waves, candy-colored pink dress, admiring back-up dancers and tightly structured choreography. This Howard Hawks' musical comedy is based on the Broadway show about a couple of showgirls and best friends who travel to Paris, run into misadventures and revel in all the attention thrown their way.
•"The Seven Year Itch" (1955): Here's Monroe again at the center of one of film's most famous images: standing over a New York City subway grate, letting the wind from a passing train send her ivory, pleated halter dress billowing all around her. But the whole performance is a great example of her screen presence in a nutshell: naive, sweet, beguiling and irresistible. Monroe plays the sexy upstairs neighbor who bewitches Tom Ewell's character while his family is away for the summer.
•"Bus Stop" (1956): A rare opportunity for Monroe to show some dramatic ability. But really, everything she can do is on display here: Joshua Logan's film, based on the William Inge play, offers the full range of Monroe's abilities. She stars as Cherie, a lousy saloon singer toiling away in Phoenix until she can find a way to get to Hollywood.
•"The Misfits" (1961): Monroe's then-husband, playwright Arthur Miller, wrote the script for her to give her a meatier role. But by all accounts, alcohol and pills made her an absolute mess and she was frequently late to John Huston's set. Given that her newly divorced character is drunk most of the time, along with the lost souls with whom she seeks solace in the Nevada desert, it's hard to tell where the performance ends and real life begins.