Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Release year: 1953
Director: Howard Hawks
Screenwriter: Charles Lederer, Joseph Fields (Musical), Anita Loos (Musical)
Starring: Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Charles Coburn, Elliott Reed, Tommy Noonan, George Winslow, Marcel Dalio, Taylor Holmes
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #6, week 29 2014
Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) and Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) are best friends and show singers. When they travel across the Atlantic by ship, Dorothy agrees to chaperone her diamond-loving friend Lorelei. Meanwhile they are being followed by a private detective hired by the father of Lorelei’s fiancée, who is less than happy with his son’s choice of bride.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is known mostly for a) starring Marilyn Monroe and b) the song sequence ”Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” perfomed by the aforementioned. However, Marilyn Monroe is not the star of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, to which fact Monroe response was ”well, at least I’m still the blonde”. This is Jane Russell’s vehicle, and although she is the better actress, and perhaps also the better singer, she has a hard time holding our attention. Because let’s face it, Marilyn Monroe has that special something. Eventhough she seems to play very much the same character in all her films, her screen persona (a persona that we now think of almost as Marilyn Monroe’s own persona), is an utterly charming one. Seemingly innocent and a bit slow as well as plenty naïve, but when we scratch the surface, in reality extremely sensual, quite clever, and half a step ahead of everyone else. However, Jane Russell does get to shine on her own in this as well, and her love story is perhaps the one that appeals most to contemporary audiences. The male characters are somewhat stereotypical, but nonetheless entertaining. Tommy Noonan is endearing as the naïve and somewhat silly Gus Junior, Lorelei’s fiancée. Charles Coburn is wonderfully self-serving and sneaky as the diamond miner who seems a remnant of 19th century imperialism, whereas Elliott Reid’s hired detective is annoyingly dedicated to his job of exposing Lorelei without ever being judgemental. He simply has a job to do but may just change his mind about his obligations to his employer when he mets Dorothy. All in all this is a charming and funny musical that very well showcases a type of musical now only a thing of the past. Watch it once for ”Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”, watch it again for all its charm.
In the sequence ”Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?” Jane Russell’s fall into the pool was an accident, but director Howard Hawks liked it so much that he decided to use that take for the film.
As usual, Marilyn Monroe and the film’s director were not on good terms. However, Jane Russell and Ms. Monroe liked each other and she later noted in an interview, that although she felt most people on the film treated her with a lack of respect, Jane Russell was very kind to her. Some mornings, Jane Russell was the only one who could coax Marilyn Monroe to come out of her trailer.
The film is perhaps best known for the song ”Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”. The scene was later imitated to great effect in Baz Luhrman’s Moulin Rouge (2001).