Shirley MacLaine is an American actress, dancer, and author who has been a prominent figure in the entertainment industry for over six decades.

With a career spanning more than 70 films and television shows, MacLaine has established herself as one of the most versatile and talented actresses of her generation.

Throughout her career, MacLaine has earned numerous accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in “Terms of Endearment.” She has also been recognized for her contributions to the arts with the Kennedy Center Honors and the AFI Life Achievement Award.

MacLaine is known for her dynamic range as an actress, from dramatic roles in films like “The Apartment” and “The Children’s Hour” to comedic turns in movies like “Steel Magnolias” and “Rumor Has It.”

Best Shirley MacLaine Movies

In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the best Shirley MacLaine movies and explore her impressive career in the entertainment industry.

1. The Apartment (1960)

“The Apartment” is a 1960 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.

The film tells the story of C.C. Baxter (Lemmon), a low-level office worker who allows his higher-ups to use his apartment for their extramarital affairs in exchange for promotions at work.

Baxter’s life takes a turn when he falls in love with Fran Kubelik (MacLaine), the elevator operator in his office building, who is also the mistress of his boss.

“The Apartment” was critically acclaimed upon its release and won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

The film is widely regarded as one of the greatest American comedies of all time and is known for its sharp wit and social commentary on corporate culture and office politics.

Lemmon and MacLaine give standout performances, with Lemmon showcasing his signature comedic talent while also bringing depth to his character’s struggles with loneliness and morality,

and MacLaine portraying a complex and vulnerable woman torn between her feelings for Baxter and her loyalty to his boss.

The film’s iconic final scene, set on New Year’s Eve, is a poignant and unforgettable moment that captures the bittersweet nature of love and life.

The Apartment
  • Directed by the legendary Billy Wilder
  • Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray (Actors)
  • Billy Wilder (Director)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)


2. Terms of Endearment (1983)

“Terms of Endearment” is a critically acclaimed film released in 1983, directed by James L. Brooks and starring Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, and Jack Nicholson. Here are three reasons why you should watch it:

Stellar Cast: “Terms of Endearment” features an all-star cast of talented actors who deliver outstanding performances.

Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger both earned Academy Award nominations for their portrayals of a mother and daughter with a complicated relationship.

Jack Nicholson also delivers a memorable performance as a charming womanizer who becomes romantically involved with MacLaine’s character.

Emotional Depth: The film explores complex themes such as love, loss, and the complexities of family relationships. It’s a poignant and emotional story that will tug at your heartstrings and leave you reflecting on the importance of love and family.

Award-Winning: “Terms of Endearment” was a critical and commercial success upon its release, winning five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

It was also nominated for eleven other Oscars, solidifying its place as a classic film that has stood the test of time.

Terms Of Endearment (1983)
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Various (Actor)
  • Various (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

3. Some Came Running (1958)

Some Came Running is a 1958 drama film directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Shirley MacLaine.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by James Jones and tells the story of Dave Hirsh, a writer and former soldier who returns to his hometown in Indiana after serving in World War II.

Upon his return, Dave becomes embroiled in a complicated love triangle with his childhood friend, Gwen French, and a beautiful nightclub singer, Ginnie Moorehead.

As Dave struggles to come to terms with his past and find his place in the world, he must also confront the harsh realities of small-town life and the prejudices of those around him.

The film was well-received by critics upon its release, with particular praise being given to Sinatra’s performance as Dave Hirsh.


Some Came Running also received several Academy Award nominations, including Best Actor for Sinatra, Best Supporting Actress for MacLaine, and Best Adapted Screenplay for John Patrick.

Some Came Running [DVD]
  • Some Came Running - DVD Used Like Now
  • Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Shirley MacLaine (Actors)
  • English, French, Portuguese (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

4. Irma la Douce (1963)

“Irma la Douce” is a 1963 romantic comedy film directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. The film is based on the French play “Irma la Douce” by Alexandre Breffort.

The story follows a naive Parisian policeman, Nestor Patou (played by Lemmon), who falls in love with a prostitute named Irma la Douce (played by MacLaine).

When he discovers she is seeing other clients, Nestor takes on a disguise and becomes one of her clients in order to keep her for himself.

The film was a critical and commercial success, with many praising the performances of Lemmon and MacLaine, as well as Wilder’s direction and the film’s charming story.

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Actress for MacLaine, and won the Best Score award for André Previn.

Irma La Douce
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Lou Jacobi (Actors)
  • Billy Wilder (Director) - Alexandre Breffort (Writer) - Alexander Trauner (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

5. Postcards from the Edge (1990)

“Postcards from the Edge” is a 1990 comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols and based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Carrie Fisher. The film stars Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, and Dennis Quaid in leading roles.


The movie follows the story of an actress named Suzanne Vale (played by Meryl Streep), who is trying to rebuild her career after a stint in rehab for drug addiction.

She struggles to maintain a relationship with her mother, a famous actress named Doris Mann (played by Shirley MacLaine), who is also dealing with her own issues.

Throughout the movie, Suzanne tries to navigate her way through the ups and downs of Hollywood and her personal life, all while trying to stay sober and reconnect with her mother.

Along the way, she meets a charming director named Jack Faulkner (played by Dennis Quaid) and begins a romantic relationship with him.

“Postcards from the Edge” is a witty and poignant exploration of Hollywood and family dynamics, with exceptional performances from Streep and MacLaine.

The film also features a strong supporting cast, including Gene Hackman, Richard Dreyfuss, and Rob Reiner, among others. The movie received critical acclaim upon its release, with praise for its sharp script, nuanced performances, and insightful commentary on the entertainment industry.

Postcards From The Edge
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid (Actors)
  • Mike Nichols (Director) - Carrie Fisher (Writer) - John Calley (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

6. Being There (1979)

“Being There” is a 1979 comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby and starring Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, and Melvyn Douglas. The film is based on the 1970 novel of the same name by Jerzy Kosinski.

The story follows Chance, a simple-minded gardener who has spent his entire life working for an old man in Washington, D.C. When the old man dies, Chance is forced to leave his sheltered life and ventures out into the world for the first time.

Through a series of misunderstandings, he is mistaken for a brilliant political thinker and becomes an influential advisor to a wealthy businessman and a high-ranking government official.

“Being There” is a satirical commentary on American politics and media culture, as well as a meditation on the nature of identity and the power of perception.

The film received widespread critical acclaim for its intelligent and subtle humor, as well as the outstanding performances of the cast.

Peter Sellers’ portrayal of Chance earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and Melvyn Douglas won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the businessman who befriends Chance.

Overall, “Being There” is a thought-provoking and entertaining film that remains relevant to this day.

Being There (1979)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLaine, Jack Warden (Actors)
  • Hal Ashby (Director) - Jerzy Kosinski (Writer) - Andrew Braunsberg (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

7. Madame Sousatzka (1988)

“Madame Sousatzka” is a 1988 British drama film directed by John Schlesinger and starring Shirley MacLaine, Navin Chowdhry, and Peggy Ashcroft. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Bernice Rubens.

MacLaine plays the title role of Madame Sousatzka, a piano teacher and former concert pianist who takes on a young prodigy named Manek (played by Chowdhry) as her student.

Manek comes from a troubled family background and struggles to balance his musical talent with his personal life.

The film received mixed reviews upon its release, with some critics praising MacLaine’s performance and others criticizing the screenplay and pacing. Despite the mixed reception, MacLaine received a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the film.

Overall, “Madame Sousatzka” is a compelling drama that explores the complexities of the relationship between a teacher and her student, and features a strong performance by Shirley MacLaine.

Madame Sousatzka
  • Shirley MacLaine, Navin Chowdhry, Peggy Ashcroft (Actor)
  • John Schlesinger (Director)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

8. The Turning Point (1977)

“The Turning Point” is a 1977 drama film directed by Herbert Ross and starring Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine.

The film tells the story of two lifelong friends, Emma (Bancroft) and Deedee (MacLaine), who took different paths in life:

Emma became a successful ballerina while Deedee chose to marry and have a family. The two women’s lives intersect again when Emma comes to town with her dance troupe and Deedee’s daughter is invited to audition.

The film was critically acclaimed and received 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.

Bancroft and MacLaine were both nominated for Best Actress, and the film won two Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (for Mikhail Baryshnikov, in his film debut) and Best Cinematography.

“The Turning Point” is known for its stunning ballet sequences, choreographed by real-life ballet legend Mikhail Baryshnikov, and its exploration of the themes of friendship, motherhood, and sacrifice.

Bancroft and MacLaine deliver powerful performances, showcasing the complexities and nuances of their characters’ relationships and the choices they made in their lives.

The film is a touching and poignant portrait of two women’s lives intertwined by their passion for dance and their enduring friendship.

The Turning Point
  • Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft, Mikhail Baryshnikov (Actors)
  • Herbert Ross (Director)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

9. Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)

“Two Mules for Sister Sara” is a Western film released in 1970, directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine. Here are three reasons why you should watch it:

Eastwood and MacLaine: The film features two iconic actors, Clint Eastwood and Shirley MacLaine, who deliver excellent performances.

Eastwood plays a tough, gun-slinging cowboy who teams up with a feisty, independent nun played by MacLaine. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, and they make an unlikely but entertaining duo.

Action-packed: “Two Mules for Sister Sara” is a Western that’s filled with action, adventure, and gunfights. The film takes the audience on a journey through the Mexican countryside, with plenty of opportunities for Eastwood’s character to show off his sharpshooting skills.

Cinematography: The film features beautiful cinematography, capturing the vast and rugged landscape of the Mexican countryside.

The scenes are shot with a great attention to detail, and the film is visually stunning. The score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone also adds to the film’s overall atmosphere and enhances the viewing experience.

Two Mules For Sister Sara
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Clint Eastwood, Shirley MacLaine, Manolo Fabregas (Actors)
  • Don Siegel (Director) - Albert Maltz (Writer) - Martin Rackin (Producer)
  • Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

10. Used People (1992)

Used People is a 1992 romantic comedy-drama film directed by Beeban Kidron and starring Shirley MacLaine, Marcello Mastroianni, and Jessica Tandy.

The film is set in 1969 in a Jewish community in New York and revolves around the life of Pearl Berman, a recently widowed woman who begins to rediscover her passion for life and love.

As Pearl begins to navigate her way through life as a newly single woman, she finds herself drawn to two very different men – Joe Meledandri, a handsome and mysterious stranger played by Marcello Mastroianni, and Jack Moran, an old friend played by Bob Dishy who has been in love with her for years.

Along the way, Pearl also has to contend with the disapproval of her overbearing mother played by Jessica Tandy.

The film received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising the performances of the cast, particularly MacLaine and Mastroianni, while others found the plot to be overly sentimental and contrived. Nevertheless, it remains a charming and heartfelt exploration of love, loss, and second chances.

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11. The Trouble with Harry (1955)

“The Trouble with Harry” is a 1955 black comedy film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine, and Mildred Natwick.

The film follows the events in a small Vermont town after the discovery of a dead body named Harry and the various residents’ reactions to it.

Here are some interesting facts about the movie:

Hitchcock filmed “The Trouble with Harry” entirely on location in Vermont. The film was shot in the fall, which gave the movie a picturesque autumnal look and feel.

The film marked Shirley MacLaine’s movie debut. Hitchcock saw MacLaine on Broadway and was so impressed with her performance that he offered her the role of Jennifer Rogers in the movie.

The movie’s music score was composed by Bernard Herrmann, who had worked on many of Hitchcock’s films, including “Psycho” and “Vertigo.”

“The Trouble with Harry” was not a commercial success upon its initial release, but it has since become a cult classic and is now considered one of Hitchcock’s most underrated films.

The film’s screenplay was written by John Michael Hayes, who also wrote the scripts for three other Hitchcock films: “Rear Window,” “To Catch a Thief,” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much.”

The Trouble with Harry [DVD]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Edmund Gwenn, John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine (Actors)
  • Alfred Hitchcock (Director) - John Michael Hayes (Writer) - Alfred Hitchcock (Producer)
  • English, French (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)

12. Guarding Tess (1994)

“Guarding Tess” is a 1994 comedy-drama film directed by Hugh Wilson and starring Shirley MacLaine and Nicolas Cage in leading roles.

The film follows the story of Doug Chesnic (played by Nicolas Cage), a secret service agent who is assigned to protect Tess Carlisle (played by Shirley MacLaine), the widow of a former U.S. President.

Tess is a cantankerous and strong-willed woman who resents the intrusion of her new protector into her life.

However, Doug is determined to do his job and protect her, despite her attempts to thwart his efforts. Over time, Doug and Tess develop a unique and unexpected friendship, as they begin to understand and appreciate each other’s quirks and personalities.

As the story progresses, Doug becomes more and more invested in Tess’s safety, even as she continues to test his patience and challenge his authority.

Along the way, they navigate various challenges, including a potential kidnapping attempt and Tess’s declining health.

“Guarding Tess” is a heartwarming and humorous movie that showcases the talents of both MacLaine and Cage.

The film received positive reviews upon its release, with critics praising the chemistry between the two leads and the film’s blend of comedy and drama.

The movie also features strong supporting performances from actors such as Austin Pendleton, Edward Albert, and James Rebhorn.

Guarding Tess
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Nicolas Cage, Shirley MacLaine, Austin Pendleton (Actors)
  • Hugh Wilson (Director) - Nancy Tanen (Producer)
  • English, Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

13. Steel Magnolias (1989)

“Steel Magnolias” is a 1989 comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross, based on the 1987 play of the same name by Robert Harling. The film features an ensemble cast that includes Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts.

Set in a small Louisiana town, the story revolves around a group of close-knit women who gather regularly at a local beauty salon. Over the course of several years, the women support each other through the joys and sorrows of life, including marriage, motherhood, illness, and death.

“Steel Magnolias” is a poignant and humorous exploration of female friendship and the resilience of the human spirit.

The film is noted for its strong performances, particularly by Sally Field and Julia Roberts, who received critical acclaim for her portrayal of a young bride struggling with diabetes.

Overall, “Steel Magnolias” is a heartwarming and uplifting film that celebrates the power of women and the bonds of love and friendship. It has become a beloved classic and remains a popular choice for both casual viewers and fans of the original play.

Steel Magnolias
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine (Actors)
  • Herbert Ross (Director) - Robert Harling (Writer) - Ray Stark (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

14. Two for the Seesaw (1962)

“Two for the Seesaw” is a 1962 American romantic drama film directed by Robert Wise and starring Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum. The film is based on a play of the same name by William Gibson.

MacLaine plays Gittel Mosca, a struggling dancer who lives in a rundown apartment in New York City. Mitchum plays Jerry Ryan, a recently divorced lawyer from Nebraska who moves into the apartment upstairs.

The two form an unlikely friendship and eventually begin a tumultuous romantic relationship.

The film explores themes of love, loneliness, and self-discovery, and features strong performances by both MacLaine and Mitchum. MacLaine received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her role in the film.

Overall, “Two for the Seesaw” is a poignant and character-driven drama that showcases the talents of its lead actors and captures the spirit of New York City in the early 1960s.

Two for the Seesaw [Blu-ray]
  • Robert Mitchum, Shirley MacLaine, Edmon Ryan (Actors)
  • Robert Wise (Director) - Sidney Poitier (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

15. Bernie (2011)

“Bernie” is a 2011 dark comedy film directed by Richard Linklater and starring Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey.

The film is based on the true story of Bernie Tiede, a beloved and charismatic mortician in a small Texas town who befriends and eventually murders an elderly wealthy widow named Marjorie Nugent (MacLaine).

Black delivers a standout performance as the titular character, portraying Bernie as a kind and generous man who becomes increasingly desperate to maintain his close relationship with Marjorie, despite her abusive and controlling behavior towards him.

MacLaine is also excellent in her role as the unpleasant and unlikable Marjorie, adding a layer of tension and unease to the film.

“Bernie” received positive reviews for its dark humor and strong performances, and was praised for its unique blend of documentary-style interviews with the real-life residents of Carthage, Texas, interspersed with fictionalized reenactments of the events surrounding Bernie and Marjorie’s relationship.

The film also highlights themes of class, morality, and the lengths people will go to in order to protect their reputation and maintain their social standing.

  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jack Black, Matthew McConaughey, Shirley MacLaine (Actors)
  • Richard Linklater (Director) - Richard Linklater (Writer) - Liz Glotzer (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

16. The Children’s Hour (1961)

“The Children’s Hour” is a drama film released in 1961, directed by William Wyler and starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, and James Garner. Here are three reasons why you should watch it:

Powerful performances: The film features a talented cast, with Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine delivering powerful performances as two schoolteachers whose lives are destroyed by a malicious student’s false accusations of a lesbian affair.

James Garner also shines as a doctor who tries to uncover the truth. The emotional depth of the performances is truly remarkable.

Thought-provoking themes: The film deals with controversial themes such as homosexuality, bigotry, and the power of rumor and innuendo. It raises important questions about how society views and treats marginalized groups and the consequences of jumping to conclusions based on hearsay.

Masterful direction: William Wyler, a renowned director who also helmed classics like “Ben-Hur” and “Roman Holiday,” directs the film with a deft hand.

He brings a sense of tension and urgency to the story, building towards a devastating climax. The film’s haunting final shot is a testament to his mastery of the craft.

The Children's Hour
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner (Actors)
  • William Wyler (Director) - John Michael Hayes (Writer) - William Wyler (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

3 Reasons To Watch Shirley MacLaine Movies

Versatile Actress: Shirley MacLaine is a versatile actress who has appeared in a wide range of films throughout her career. She has played everything from comedic roles in movies like “Steel Magnolias” and “Postcards from the Edge” to dramatic roles in films like “The Apartment” and “Terms of Endearment.”

Her ability to embody different characters and bring depth and nuance to her performances is what sets her apart as an actress.

Iconic Films: Shirley MacLaine has starred in some of the most iconic and beloved films of all time. From her Oscar-winning performance in “Terms of Endearment” to her memorable roles in “The Apartment” and “Some Came Running,” her movies have stood the test of time and continue to be enjoyed by audiences today.

Watching these films is a wonderful way to experience the magic of classic Hollywood cinema and appreciate the artistry of one of its greatest actresses.

Inspirational Figure: Shirley MacLaine is an inspirational figure who has lived an extraordinary life. She has written numerous books on spirituality, reincarnation, and self-discovery, and has been an advocate for various causes throughout her career.

By watching her movies, you can not only appreciate her talents as an actress but also be inspired by her courage, wisdom, and willingness to take risks both on and off screen.

Best Shirley MacLaine Movies – Wrap Up

The Apartment (1960) – Shirley MacLaine plays a charming elevator operator who becomes romantically involved with a co-worker in this Academy Award-winning film.

Terms of Endearment (1983) – MacLaine won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Aurora Greenway, a feisty and independent mother who struggles to connect with her daughter.

Steel Magnolias (1989) – MacLaine stars alongside an ensemble cast of strong female characters in this emotional and heartwarming film about the bonds of friendship and the resilience of Southern women.

The Turning Point (1977) – MacLaine plays a retired ballerina who confronts her past and her relationships with her former dance partner and her daughter in this Academy Award-nominated film.

Sweet Charity (1969) – MacLaine stars as a hopeful and optimistic dancer in this colorful and vibrant musical adaptation of the hit Broadway show.

Overall, Shirley MacLaine has had a long and successful career in film and is known for her talent and versatility as an actress.