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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox Reissue)
Genres:
Comedy, Musical, Musical Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Satire
Director:
Howard Hawks Howard Hawks
Starring:
Jane Russell Jane Russell
Marilyn Monroe Marilyn Monroe
Charles Coburn Charles Coburn
Elliott Reid Elliott Reid
Tommy Noonan Tommy Noonan

7.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Chad
Added: May 02, 2012
Today, we're going to do something a little different. Instead of the usual blood and guts horror flicks, how about a musical from the fifties? Now, you may not know it, but I am a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe. I think that she was and is the best looking woman in show business, but behind the gorgeous face and curvacious body, the woman was actually really smart and knew how to act. Reading her biography is depressing as all hell, but she left behind a number of great films. Today, I decided to revisit one of them to get it listed up on the site, and even though it's not my favorite of the bunch, it's still an entertaining film.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, based on the 1949 stage musical (which was itself based on the 1925 novel), tells the tale of Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) and Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe), two showgirls slash best friends on a cruise to Paris. Lorelei is engaged to be married to a wealthy man once she arrives, and as the lady will quickly tell you, she wants a man with money. Her man has it in spades, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, the man's father doesn't approve of the marriage, and he hires private detective Ernie Malone (Elliott Reid) to accompany the girls on the cruise and keep an eye on her - the idea being that a gold-digging woman like her will see another man with money on the boat and get tempted, leading to her cheating on her husband-to-be. When that happens, Malone will be there to document it and the marriage will be off.

Of course, even with Dorothy trying to keep Lorelei on the straight and narrow, it doesn't take long before she meets a man who owns a South African diamond mine, and as the famous song tells us, "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." Malone catches the two in an inappropriate embrace, but this is where the dilemma comes in... should he turn her in, or save her hide in order to further his budding relationship with Dorothy? If he rats her out, he'll be paid handsomely and will fulfill his duties, but he'll lose the woman that he is falling in love with. Ahh, decisions!

Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but there's just something about this one that appeals to me. Perhaps it's due to the fact that, unlike a lot of movies in the genre, the musical numbers do not overshadow the actual story. This is not one of those films where there is seventy minutes of song and dance with about twenty minutes of plot - in fact, the numbers are switched around here. However, even if that wasn't the case, I don't think that I would have complained: the vocals from both ladies are very good, and the choreography is outstanding. Of course, this film is also the source of one of Monroe's most well-known songs in Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend, and yes, it has every reason for being so famous as Monroe absolutely nails it. Even better, Mrs. Russell takes a shot at it later in the film, and - dare I say it - she almost does it better than Monroe did.

As for the surrounding storyline, it's a lighthearted affair that mixes together comedy, a whole lot of double entendres ("Did you see the bulge in his pants?"), and a little bit of drama to keep things interesting. It's not a very deep storyline, but it doesn't need to be: Monroe and Russell play off of one another to perfection, and witnessing the chemistry between them is worth the price of admission alone. Now, that's not to say that the storyline itself was lackluster. Even though there are a few holes in the plot and everything comes together a little too conveniently at the end, I have to say that it kept my attention thanks to an entertaining script with plenty of laughs and enjoyable characters.

Even though it's not Monroe's best film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is still an entertaining movie and it ranks up there with her best. It's just one example of why Monroe became the star that she did, and let's not discount Russell here - she certainly didn't slouch with her role, and she brought a lot to the table (even overshadowing Monroe in a handful of scenes). I can't rightfully call it a perfect film, but enjoyable? Yeah, I can easily call it that. 8/10.
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