Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

GentlemenPreferBlondesSuggested by Brad Nelson • Showgirls Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to Paris, pursued by a private detective hired by the disapproving father of Lorelei’s fiancé to keep an eye on her, as well as a rich, enamored old man and many other doting admirers.
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14 Responses to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This is one of those movies (musicals) that has no plot to speak of but still works. This is a one-joke comedy, but Marilyn carries the joke so well that you can’t help liking it.

    Jane Russell (the “star” here with a $200,000 payroll) is as wooden and buxom as ever. The $500/week Monroe is the real attraction. This is probably her best work. Howard Hawks apparently intended (and succeeded) in making Marilyn more than a cardboard-cutout dumb blonde. He gave her reason to act.

    Despite not much of a plot, there are some clever moments such as when “Mr. Spofford” (played by 7-year-old character actor George Winslow) gives two reasons for why he (a child) will help Marilyn out of her present predicament (stuck in a porthole…he thinks she’s a burglar): “The first reason is I’m too young to be sent to jail. The second reason is you got a lot of animal magnetism.”

    This is a light comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously and yet it’s fun if you don’t expect too much from it. Who can’t laugh when Jane Russell, doing a Monroe impersonation, breaks out in her rendition of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” while in the witness box in court?

    The men in this movie (perhaps with the exception of the flesh-colored suits of the men’s relay team in one song number) are forgettable. Monroe is not. She plays the dumb-blonde but lets on frequently that she’s sly as a fox. The ending of this is tacked-on. But who cares at that point?

    Jane Russell has never been a favorite of mine, but she’s fed some nice lines such as this, “Now lets get this straight, Gus. The chaperone’s job is to see that nobody else has any fun. Nobody chaperone’s the chaperone. That’s why I’m so right for this job.”

    This is a girl-power film the likes of which can’t be made by today’s man-hating and inartistic ideological hacks who ignore one of the greatest powers any girl has: sex appeal. Well, this aspect is played up for some nice laughs as the superficial Marilyn has an ongoing friendly debate with Jane Russell. Marilyn chases the money and Russell simply likes men and couldn’t care how many diamonds can be smoothed out of them.

    Although this is a light comedy, it’s not throw-away silly as so many are. This is like Billy Wilder but with a little more wit and panache. And your eyeballs may never return to their centered position having followed scores of Marilyn’s little dance-jiggles.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I was just looking at the obituary for Marni Nixon in The Week; and it says she did the high notes for Monroe in "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", as she sang for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

  2. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This film also had some nice songs including one that became a hit: Bye, Bye Baby. Overall, none of the songs proved to be the proverbial interruption to the film as so many do. They blended into the plot (such as it was) fairly seamlessly. My favorite was a duet by Russell and Monroe outside a French cafe: When Love Goes Wrong. “Charming” is a word that best describes this number. Note that the Moroccans (or whoever they are) are enamored with the Western girls instead of wanting to blow them up. Refreshing.

    The Two Girls from Little Rock is a little weak, but runs through the film and gives it some continuity. And, of course, you have the iconic Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend which needs no introduction.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    In researching my biography of Stephen Sondheim for Salem Press, I came across the evolution of modern musicals. To start with, the play/movie was merely a vehicle for a bunch of songs that hopefully would be hits. Then writers such as Rodgers and Hammerstein began integrating the songs into the plot (which required an actual plot to be integrated into). Stephen Sondheim (who was mentored by Hammerstein) and Andrew Lloyd Weber took this even further — among other things, they tend to have fewer hit songs.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Thanks for the background on that. That makes sense. Certainly we’ve seen how movies (such as R&H’s “The Sound of Music”) have mastered the art of integrating music and story. But it took some time getting there, I guess.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I would say the modern musical is a continuation of the operetta which was first developed in France. Offenbach is a well known French master of the form.

      Operettas were also very popular in Vienna and Berlin. Strauss, Lehar and Weil are a few of the more well known German speaking artists of this genre.

      Then there were Gilbert and Sullivan of England, who were hugely popular in both the USA and U.K.

      All of the above composers, except Weil, were popular in the later half of the 19th century. I think that their pieces did a pretty good job of combining story and music.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, it took a while for the form to take hold here. Perhaps it simply required some operetta fans, though Sondheim himself is no fan of Gilbert & Sullivan. (In Pacific Overture, he hoes have a brief parody of them when a British representative tells the Japanese what Britain wants.)

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          though Sondheim himself is no fan of Gilbert & Sullivan.

          I believe the German speaking composers and librettists had the greatest influence on our American artists.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I wouldn’t doubt for a minute that Marilyn herself was a continuation of some naughty Frenchy caberet thingie, although the notes at IMDB say that Marilyn spent a month watching Carol Channing on stage.

        One could argue that Marilyn was second to none in regards to classic blonde bombshells who were the result of more than just a good Photoshop retouch session. One list has some notables including Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Veronica Lake (love the hair), Lana Turner, Jayne Mansfield,

        My rough opinion is that Lana Turner in that list best combines bombshell looks and talent, something Marilyn had in spades as well.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          Veronica Lake!!! Unfortunately, I believe she had mental problems which took a toll on her.

          Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd on screen where something else.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Though I’ve no doubt seen many movies by these women, the only one I can remember is Dietrich in the classic Agatha Christie mystery Witness for the Prosecution. (I’ve read the play as well as the original story, which doesn’t have the twists of the play and movie.)

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            Well, I’m going to work my way through a couple more Monroe pictures (“Niagra,” “How to Marry a Millionaire”) and then, because my pupils are already stretch and dilated, I thought I’d check out “Outlaw” with Jane Russell. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen that. Perhaps then a Dietrich picture or two. Or a couple of Carole Lombard’s best.

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