Marilyn Monroe: The Classic Collection Review

Replacing the now deleted Diamond Collection Fox are releasing the Marilyn Monroe Classic Collection on 25th October 2004. Split over two volumes The Classic Collection contains the ten films featured as part of the Diamond Collection, loses the two-hour documentary bonus disc, and throws in an additional four never-before-released films featuring one of Hollywood’s most famous, most glamorous and most tragic superstars.

Using our coverage from the previous collection we will complete our look at the additional films in these sets in the run up to its release...

Marilyn Monroe: The Classic Collection
Volume One

Included in this volume are Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Niagra, Bus Stop, River of No Return, Don't Bother To Knock, and for the first time on DVD, We're Not Married and Love Nest.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) - Directed By Howard Hawks

A charming Hawks comedy-musical that pairs Marilyn with Jane Russell as two lounge singers Lorelei and Dorothy working their way to Europe on a cruise ship. Lorelei is engaged to a jealous husband, and her shallow attraction to money and diamonds is match by Dorothy's shallow attraction to good looking men. Soon, the pair cause waves on the cruise ship, particularly when Lorelei sets her eye on an expensive diamond tiara.

Click here for Raphael Pour-Hashemi's full review.


(1953) - Directed By Henry Hathaway

Not only is this a decent suspense thriller, but also a good indication of how successful Marilyn could prove to be as a femme-fatale if utilised properly. The plot tells of adulterous Rose Loomis (Monroe), who plots to manipulate her lover into murdering her husband George (Joseph Cotton). However, after George is reported missing, innocent couple Polly (Jean Peters) and Ray Cutler's (Max Showalter) suspicions are aroused after spying on Rose.

Click here for Mike Sutton's full review.

Bus Stop

(1956) - Directed By Joshua Logan

This was a proper lead vehicle for Miss Monroe, and proved to be a timid comedy detailing the changing relationship between men and women. Monroe plays Cherie, a Phoenix bar singer who is caught in the path of brash rodeo cowboy Bo Decker (Don Murray), who decides that whether she likes it or not, Cherie will be his house-confined wife. A pleasant comedy with a surprising sour turn at the end, Bus Stop is little more than mildly-diverting entertainment.

Click here for Raphael Pour-Hashemi's full review.

River Of No Return

(1954) - Directed By Otto Preminger

Pitted alongside Robert Mitchum, Marilyn plays Kay, a cabaret singer forced to share a raft with Mitchum after her greedy husband runs off with Mitchum's rifle and horse in a desperate bid to make a gold claim at Council City. A run-of-the-mill musical western as opposed to a classic piece of cinema, River Of No Return was an uninspired turn for Monroe.

Click here for Mark Boydell's full review.

Don't Bother To Knock

(1952) - Directed By Roy Ward Baker

This was an attempt by Marilyn Monroe to prove to critics that she could act in a dramatic role, and opposite Richard Widmark, Marilyn proves an appealing lead actress, even if the film is far from memorable. Marilyn plays Nell, a babysitter who becomes friendly with pilot Jed (Widmark) through her hotel window. However, it soon transpires that Nell's suitability to the task of babysitting has reached a catastrophic level.

Click here for Mark Boydell's full review.

We’re Not Married

(1952) - Directed by Edmund Goulding

Due to an administrative error, five couples find out that they are not legally married. Each of the sequences that make up the film show the different ways the news is received by each of the couples. Often very funny with an outstanding cast, the film smartly plays on attitudes to marriage in American society. Monroe’s segment however is brief and one of the weakest in the film.

Click here for Noel Megahey's full review.

Love Nest

(1951) - Directed by Joseph M Newman

A soldier returns home after the war to find that his wife has bought up a run-down New York brownstone apartment block. The story revolves around the couple’s adventures with their tenants, preventing Jim from dedicating himself to his writing. A fairly average little comedy from an I.A.L Diamond script that never rises above the level of a sitcom. Not a good Monroe vehicle, she’s hardly in the film and her character makes little impact.

Click here for Noel Megahey's full review.

Marilyn Monroe: The Classic Collection

Volume Two

Included in this volume are How To Marry A Millionaire, There's No Business Like Show Business, Seven Year Itch, Monkey Business, Let's Make Love, and for the first time on DVD Let's Make It Legal and As Young As You Feel.

How To Marry A Millionaire (1953) - Directed By Jean Negulesco

The first film to be made in Fox's super-widescreen process Cinemascope, this is unfortunately a rather forgettable vehicle that features Lauren Bacall, Monroe and Betty Grable struggling to maintain their classy, socialite lifestyle. Therefore, they decide to set out and find a suitable millionaire to marry in order for the high life to continue. A superficial and lightweight comedy that comes off as a pale imitation to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Click here for Mike Sutton's full review.

There's No Business Like Show Business

(1954) - Directed By Walter Lang

Marilyn displays her singing talents and her unique ability to light up a screen in this colourful CinemaScope musical. Telling the story of The Five Donaghues, a 1930's vaudeville song and dance act, There's no Business Like Show Business is light on plot, but strong on musical set-pieces with great performances from Ethel Merman, Dan Dailey and Donald O'Connor. Not essential Monroe by any means, but some of her best moments in her career can be found in this film.

Click here for Noel Megahey's full review.

The Seven Year Itch

(1955) - Directed By Billy Wilder

Despite containing the famous sequence involving Marilyn's skirt being blown up by an underneath vent, this is a tired and pedestrian comedy of marital infidelities that doesn't really live up to its reputation. Marilyn plays the too-attractive blonde next door who Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) must save himself from whilst his family are away for the summer. Enjoyable in a light-hearted way, but ultimately forgettable other than for the one 'highly-memorable' moment.

Click here for Raphael Pour-Hashemi's full review.

Monkey Business

(1952) - Directed By Howard Hawks

This was Marilyn's first collaboration with director Howard Hawks, and Marilyn only appears on-screen for approximately fifteen minutes, and is billed behind major stars Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers and Charles Coburn. The film crazily tells of a scientist named Barnaby Fulton (Grant) who is testing a youth-rendering formula on chimps. However, hi-jinx ensues when one of the chimps mixes the formula with the laboratory water cooler, causing Barnaby and his wife Edwine (Ginger Rogers) to reverse in age!

Click here for Mike Sutton's full review.

Let's Make Love

(1960) - Directed By George Cukor

The most recent film of this anthology tells of Yves Montand arriving from France to Broadway so that he can see the rehearsal of a new play that satirises/ridicules his life. After seeing the gorgeous Monroe perform on stage, he decides that he is the best man to play himself, if just so he can be near Monroe every day. Monroe gives one of her best performances in a lightweight film, and is a delight to watch on screen.

Click here for Noel Megahey's full review.

Let’s Make It Legal

(1951) - Directed by Richard Sale

Another very minor film in the Marilyn Monroe catalogue and not a very good one which even wastes the talent of Claudette Colbert, who has a difficult choice to make between the husband she is about to divorce and a former boyfriend who is a millionaire. Monroe has a minor supporting role chasing after the millionaire and is not on the screen long enough to make any real impression.

Click here for Gary Couzens' full review.

As Young As You Feel

(1951) - Directed by Harmon Jones

Monroe has a minor supporting role in this rather by-the-numbers comedy with romantic complications, but she makes the most of the part of a secretary who is having an affair with her boss. A good cast and an entertaining idea aren’t really exploited here though and the film has an overall uneven tone.

Click here for Gary Couzens' full review.

Initial thoughts on the additional titles to the collection are that picture quality is quite good across the board, all are black & white, 1.33:1, with slight grain, but clear, sharp and no marks on the prints. DD 2.0 mono sound is reasonably clear. None of the films have any extra features at all. The commentaries present on the R1 editions of Love Nest and Let's Make It Legal have been dropped here in favour of Italian dubs.


Clearly designed to catch your eye on a Christmas shopping venture these sets offer good value for money and catalogue one of the greatest Hollywood starlet's films with presentations that satisfy, but never wow in the extras department. The loss of the documentary feature on the Diamond Collection is however, a disappointment, and one the extra films only go some way to appeasing.

A note on scoring: This is an overview of the collections, not a review - therefore I have only given an overall score leaving the film and technical quality to be appraised in the individual reviews.

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