Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) is interesting in that it allows Marilyn to play against her usual type. Marilyn plays a babysitter who has just started working in a fancy hotel. It is revealed that she has long been distraught over the death of her former lover, and she starts wearing her rich employer’s jewelry to cover the scars on her wrists. The typical babysitter attacked by a welcomed stranger dynamic is turned on its head when Marilyn begins to seat her delusions within the man she has invited into the hotel room. She sees the girl she is supposed to be caring for as an impediment to her happiness and forces the man to protect the girl from the babysitter.
The conclusion is about as satisfying as mental illness films can get in the ’50s, and the film has a lot of great bad dialogue in places (“You smell like one of them cooch dancers”). With several misfires, this film is placed in the second tier of Marilyn’s films, but the performance is refreshing. Many seem to think this performance is a revealing look at the actual, flawed Marilyn, but I would like to think she has more dimension than this.
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