Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

“Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?”

‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’, directed by Howard Hawks in 1953, is an American adaptation of the comedy musical from 1949. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell play a pair of showgirls, Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw. Lee is a money-chaser and is engaged to Gus Esmond, played by Tommy Noonan, a weak man whose father is incredibly wealthy. Lee and Shaw travel to Paris, with the intention of holding the wedding there, but Esmond is prevented from leaving. The pair then have a series of adventures involving the owner of a diamond mine, the American male Olympic athletics team and a private investigator called Ernie Malone, who has been hired by Esmond’s father to spy on Lee. Like Hawks’ earlier ‘Bringing Up Baby’ and ‘His Girl Friday’, this movie has a frenetic pace and takes the form of a series of comedy set-pieces. ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ differs from the earlier films in the centralisation of the two female characters: the flighty, thick Lee and the proactive, smart Shaw, and in the use of musical numbers with pleasingly choreographed dance routines. The effect is both a showcase for Monroe’s, and Russell’s, comedic skills, and a kind of variety, light entertainment feel. The story is one of innocence and a lightening study of the ways men attract women, with the centrepiece song ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ acting as a cynical calling card for the film. It’s not a movie that romanticises place or setting, Paris is a kind of holding location and could be anywhere, but the film focuses instead on the comic partnership of the two female leads and their relationship.

Would I recommend it? Yes – watch with any other Hawks movie (aside from ‘Scarface’ perhaps) for a pleasing double bill.


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