Don't Bother to Knock [1952]

Director: Roy Ward Baker
Stars: Richard Widmark, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Bancroft, Donna Corcoran, Jeanne Cagney
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Runtime: 76 minutes

Some essential examples of the Marilyn Monroe mystique make up this second collection of titles from MM's years at Twentieth Century Fox. After sparkling in small roles, she burst upon the public consciousness in 1952, thanks to five films and a certain nude calendar. Two of the 1952 pictures, showing very different sides of the new actress, are included here. One is Monkey Business, Howard Hawks's raucous comedy about a youth serum, in which top-lined stars Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers regress to a state of adolescent abandon, with Monroe doing spot-on supporting duty. Don't Bother to Knock gives Marilyn her first lead role, in a tense little film noir; she's a babysitter with an unstable streak, a fine performance hinting at depths rarely touched in her career. In Niagara, Monroe is a full-fledged sex goddess, a scheming wife tormenting husband Joseph Cotten in their cabin by the falls. This Technicolor slice of pseudo-Hitchcock is a fun location picture with a genuinely exciting climax. Otto Preminger's River of No Return has Marilyn livened up by the presence of costar Robert Mitchum, in a strong outdoorsy Western that catches the two stars in appealing form. By the time of 1960's Let's Make Love, MM looks tired. This backstage musical is more interesting as a time capsule than as a romance, although one number shines: "My Heart Belongs to Daddy." Less urgent for Monroe fans than the first Diamond Collection, this set is still a good one for the die-hards. --Robert Horton

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