Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
 
 
 

Russell and Monroe are a Couple of Diamonds

I always say a kiss on the hand might feel very good, but a diamond tiara lasts forever - Lorelei Lee

Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Considering that its heritage includes a stage musical "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is not an overly stagey movie. Oh it still has that musical feel to it featuring one of the most memorable musical scenes every made with Marilyn Monroe singing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" but the storyline flows more naturally than many movies which have come via the stage. Although whilst the storyline flows it's not in the least bit complex and in reality "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is all about the sexiness of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell as two man eaters and it works with one glorious scene after another of these women using their sexuality to great effect.

Whilst travelling to France aboard a cruise ship, lounge singers Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell - His Kind of Woman) and Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe - Monkey Business) find temptation at every corner. With the ship also carrying the men's Olympic team Dorothy has plenty of men to flirt with, whilst Lorelei with an eye for a rich man finds herself latching on to Sir Francis Beekman (Charles Coburn - Has Anybody Seen My Gal), a diamond mine owner whose wife has the most amazing tiara. But whilst Dorothy and Lorelei's flirtations are innocent a private detective on the ship thinks other wise having been hired to catch Lorelei in a compromising position for his employer who just happens to the father of Lorelei's fiancée.

Jane Russell as Dorothy Shaw in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Whilst "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is an entertaining movie the storyline is seriously slim and quite unoriginal as it focuses on the exploits of Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw as they travel by boat from America to France. And as such we watch Lorelei flirting with a rich Diamond Mine owner whilst Dorothy thinks she is in heaven with the men's Olympic team also travelling on the vessel. Actually that is just part of the storyline, the fun part, as we also have a private detective aboard the boat sent to trap Lorelei in a compromising position because her prospective father in law thinks she is a money grabber. All of which is fun, it throws up some amusing scenes as Lorelei gets caught and along with Dorothy try to get hold of the incriminating evidence. But not once does it become in the least bit complex and is pretty much a plain sailing fun movie right through to the prescribed happy ever after ending and you expect nothing less.

But the weakness of the storyline isn't really an issue because the pairing of Monroe and Russell not only provides a physical distraction but also work so well together to deliver comedy through their man eating exploits. From the opening scene as the pair wiggle their way through a musical number in tight fitting crimson dresses to countless scenes aboard the boat it's all about the sexual power of these women. And whilst there is something almost exploitive about it all as in countless scenes we watch both Monroe and Russell appearing in figure hugging outfits, made to accentuate their obvious charms, there is also a fascinating cleverness to it all as whilst they get whistled at they also use their looks and bodies to control men. Watching Monroe flutter her eyelids or Russell stick out her chest in order to manipulate a man makes it much more than just being exploitative.

Talking of Monroe and Russell they work so well together not only when it comes to rivalling each other for sexiness but in the almost double act they deliver. It may seem like Monroe as Lorelei is playing to type, blonde, wide eyed with an element of dumb naivety but she works it so well and at the same time manages also to come across as surprisingly astute as if the dumb blonde thing is just an act to get what she wants as in money and diamonds. And with Monroe so at home delivering this flirtatious money lover it takes a strong actress to be her equal and that is what Jane Russell does. It works because as Dorothy she is the clever one who has a more dominating force over the men she fancies but being the opposite of Monroe works so well. In fact Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell works so well together that the various other actors such as Charles Coburn as Sir Francis 'Piggy' Beekman, Elliott Reid as Ernie Malone and Tommy Noonan as Gus Esmond Jr. are over shadowed and easily forgotten.

What this all boils down to is that "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is simply a good fun movie which thanks to both Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell being on such great form becomes memorable. It may seem almost exploitative as we get scene after scene of both Monroe and Russell flaunting their sexuality beneath figure hugging outfits but it is more than just about that and is about the way they manipulate men with their charms. It's not complex, it is a bit stupid but you will not be able to take your eyes off of what is happening.

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