Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) – Howard Hawks

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Marilyn Monroe stars in the first recommendation following my screening of Some Like It Hot, for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book.

Monroe and Jane Russell are showgirls, Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw respectively, who are best friends, and seem to be enjoying all life has to offer. Lorelei is a bit naive, and is pursuing a relationship with a rich, rather geeky fellow by the name of Gus Esmond, Jr. (Tommy Noonan). That doesn’t stop her from keeping an eye out for other rich men, or hoping to find a suitable one for her friend.

The pair of them are about to set off on an ocean cruise to France, and Gus’ father (Taylor Holmes) has hired private detective Ernie Malone (Elliott Reid) to watch Lorelei, as he doesn’t think his son should be mixed up with someone he sees as merely a vacuous gold-digger. Piling onto the boat is a wide assortment of interesting characters including the entire U.S. Olympic team, which delights Dorothy to no end.

Through the course of the film, an older gentleman Sir Francis ‘Piggy’ Beekman (Charles Coburn) becomes enamoured with Lorelei, despite already being married, Dorothy starts to fall for Malone, though she and Lorelei have to outwit, and occasionally blackmail him to keep Lorelei out of trouble, and a young kid, Henry Spofford III (George Winslow) has some great comedic moments with Monroe’s character, who in turn is on trial before the film’s end for the theft of a diamond tiara.

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Hawks keeps the movie moving at a brisk pace, the musical numbers are lavish and one in particular, Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, has been copied for years since it was first put to celluloid.

The banter is fun, Monroe has some truly hilarious lines, and watching Dorothy pretending to be Lorelei during the court scenes are very funny.

The film is engaging, due in most part to the two leads, who convey not only a true friendship, but a real sense of fun in their performances, not to mention that they both look fantastic. The musical numbers are full of life, and lavishly produced, and it must have been something to see this projected on the big screen, even at home on my widescreen the picture looks stunning!

My favorite bits are when Malone gets invited to the cabin and Dorothy and Lorelei get him into a state of undress to blackmail him, when Marilyn is stuck in the porthole, and when Dorothy pretends to be Lorelei in court.

This one, for a film I had never seen, was incredibly enjoyable, and is once again, one of those films you would want to throw in on a rainy weekend, curl up with a loved one under a blanket, and laugh and sing along with.

I loved revisiting Some Like It Hot, and so far the recommendations that followed it in this book are serving me well, there’s some other wonderful classic comedies coming up as well!

What did you think of this one? Are diamonds truly a girl’s best friend?

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 2

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