There is nothing all that profound about this musical, it is just a nicely entertaining bit of fluff which puts a big old smile on your face for an hour and a half. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes follows a pair of showgirls played by Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell as they take very different paths towards trying to find their ideal man. Russell’s Dorothy Shaw is interested in somebody she can actually relate to, although being good looking couldn’t hurt. Monroe’s Lorelei Lee however is much more interested in just how much potential suitors might have in their pocket, or what jewels their wives may have stashed away somewhere.
This film is heavily indebted to Monroe and Russell. If it wasn’t for the charm they both bring and the chemistry between them, then this would have been forgotten about long ago. That’s not to shoot down the at times fantastic set design, choreography or supporting performances, but the director Howard Hawks leans very heavily on his lead talent in order to keep the laughs coming. Not that that’s a problem, this is one of Monroe’s best comedic performances and she displays excellent timing as well as being on top of her game musically, but I’ll return to that later. Jane Russell plays the straight woman to Monroe’s often childlike gold-digger. Russell is excellent at providing the witty one-liners, she consistently keeps up with Monroe and, if it were down to the acting alone, I would struggle a little to know who I preferred here.
However, this isn’t all about the acting of the two leads. This is a musical after all, and this is where clearly eclipses Russell. There is nothing wrong with Russell’s performance here, but she suffers from having some of the film’s most forgettable song and dance numbers, and of course is denied the film’s crowning glory. Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend is one of the most unforgettable moments in film history. There are a lot of factors at work here which make it so excellent but the three main ones are Monroe’s perfect performance, the precise choreography and of course the highly inventive set design. I love that scene and it’s a credit to the rest of the film that those four minutes don’t completely overshadow the rest of the production because it really is a landmark moment in Hollywood history.
So, if you haven’t seen this classic already then I would highly recommend that you get on and find yourself a copy. It’s not perfect in the way that say Some Like It Hot could be considered as being, but it’s funny, heartwarming and, despite having several lack luster songs, has one of the finest musical numbers ever put to celluloid. Frankly I can’t think of many reasons why you shouldn’t at least give it a go!
What is the film’s greatest strength? It’s two leads, and if I had to pick between them it would be Monroe.
Its greatest weakness? Bizarrely it’s the musicals songs, except of course for Diamonds.
Would I see it again? Absolutely!
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