Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Howard Hawks, USA, 1953, 91 minutes

When Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell start any film in tiny costumes laced with jewels claiming to be "just two little girls from Little Rock" you know this is not going to be a deep and meaningful kind of movie. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is just pure unadulterated glamorous fun with a pair of very sexy leads and some extremely catchy tunes.

The plot - for want of a better word - follows Lorelei (Monroe) and Dorothy (Russell) on their quest to find eligible millionaires. And what better way to do that than by singing and strutting their oh so fine stuff on board a big ol' cruise ship to Europe?

Monroe brings a charmingly odd sort of street smart naivete to the essentially shallow Lorelei who's key requirement of any man is diamonds (Diamonds ARE a Girl's Best Friend) arguing, not unreasonably 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?". Russell meanwhile takes relish competing admirably with the ultimate cinematic sex-pot by reminding us that whilst Marilyn may be blond and lovely, Russell has a wickedly adult type of sultriness and she's bright and funny to boot. Not that she gets all the best lines… just most of 'em.

And the rest of the cast? They're just fine but frankly who cares! The main attractions here (aside from the obvious) are Monroe and Russell's wicked comic timing and fabulously over the top song and dance numbers (replete with obscenely gorgeous costumes). Of these Bye Bye Baby is perhaps the most underrated as, in addition to the typically wonderfully mad lyrics (hey kids lets rhyme "meridian" with "Gideon".. now how could we that fit in a song?), Monroe gives it a lovely kick of emotion in an otherwise wonderfully cynical film. Watch out for Ain't There Anyone Here for Love - it's easily the oddest 4 minutes of the film as a gymnasium full of buff tanned testosterone-fuelled muscle boys fail to take any interest in Jane Russell throwing herself at them. Madness!

Review by Nicola Osborne
Written for EUFS Programme Spring 2002