Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (film)
|Gentlemen Prefer Blondes|
|Directed by||Howard Hawks|
|Produced by||Sol C. Siegel|
|Written by||Anita Loos (novel and play)
Joseph Fields (play)
|Music by||Hoagy Carmichael
|Editing by||Hugh S. Fowler|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||91 minutes|
|Box office||$5.1 million (US/ Canada rentals)|
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a 1953 film adaptation of the 1949 stage musical, released by 20th Century Fox, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, with Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid, Tommy Noonan, George Winslow, Taylor Holmes, and Norma Varden in supporting roles. The screenplay by Charles Lederer is augmented by the music of songwriting teams Hoagy Carmichael & Harold Adamson and Jule Styne & Leo Robin. The songs by Styne and Robin are from the Broadway show, while the songs by Carmichael and Adamson were written especially for the film.
The movie is filled with comedic gags and musical numbers. While Russell's down-to-earth, sharp wit has been noted by most critics, it is Monroe's turn as the gold-digging Lorelei Lee for which the film is often remembered. Monroe's rendition of the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and her pink dress are considered iconic, and the dress has been copied by Madonna, Geri Halliwell, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Anna Nicole Smith, Christina Aguilera, and James Franco.
The story line first appeared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Intimate Diary of a Professional Lady, a 1925 novel by Anita Loos. It was adapted for the stage in 1926, and then a 1928 silent movie, starring Ruth Taylor, Alice White, Ford Sterling, and Mack Swain, which is now lost. John C. Wilson directed the Broadway musical with Carol Channing as Lorelei Lee that served as the basis for this screen version.
Loos wrote a sequel to her novel entitled But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, with further adventures of Lorelei and Dorothy. The 1955 Gentlemen Marry Brunettes used only the book's name and starred Russell and Jeanne Crain playing characters who were the daughters of Dorothy Shaw.
Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) are showgirls and best friends. Lorelei has a passion for diamonds, knowing that attracting a rich husband is one of the only ways a woman of the 1950s can succeed economically. She is engaged to Gus Esmond (Tommy Noonan), a naive nerd willing to do or buy anything for her. He, however, is under the control of his wealthy, upper-class father who calls him twice a day. Dorothy, on the other hand, is looking for love, attracted only by men who are good-looking and fit. Lorelei has planned for Gus and her to marry in France, but Esmond, Sr. stops his son from sailing, believing that Lorelei is bad for him. Lorelei's job requires that she go and she does. Gus gives her a letter of credit, warning her to behave because, if his father hears rumors of bad behavior on her part, his father will certainly prohibit their marriage. Unbeknownst to them, Esmond, Sr. has hired a private detective, Ernie Malone (Elliott Reid), to spy on Lorelei. Malone, however, immediately falls in love with Dorothy. During the Atlantic crossing, Dorothy has already been drawn to the members of the Olympic athlete team, and is disappointed that they are required to go to bed right at the shank of the evening. Lorelei meets the rich and foolish Sir Francis "Piggy" Beekman (Charles Coburn), the owner of a diamond mine, and is attracted by his wealth and naively returns his geriatric flirtations. Piggy is entranced and his wife, annoyed. Lady Beekman (Norma Varden) proudly shows Lorelei her diamond tiara.
Lorelei invites the old gent to her and Dorothy's cabin, whereupon he recounts his travels to Africa. Malone spies through the window and takes pictures of Piggy hugging Lorelei under the guise of explaining how a python squeezes a goat. Dorothy catches Malone walking away nonchalantly after taking pictures of Lorelei and Piggy. She tells Lorelei, who fears for her reputation. They come up with a scheme to recover the incriminating film. They invite Malone for drinks, spill water on his lap, take his pants off to dry them out, and find the film in his pants pocket. Lorelei promptly prints and hides the negatives. Piggy is relieved his wife won't see the pictures. Lorelei, feeling she deserves a reward, persuades Piggy to give her his wife's diamond tiara as a thank-you present. But then Malone reveals that he has taped Lorelei's and Piggy's conversations, for which Dorothy scolds him. Malone implies Lorelei is a golddigger and, when Dorothy dismisses him out of hand, admits that he himself is a liar. When Dorothy tells Lorelei she is falling for Malone, Lorelei chastises her for choosing a poor man when she could as easily have a rich man – and diamonds. They arrive in Paris and spend time shopping, but are then kicked out of the hotel; Lorelei's letter of credit has been cancelled because of what Gus's father has learned from Malone. When Gus shows up at their show, Lorelei rebuffs him. It is at this point that Lorelei performs "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend," the musical number whose lyrics explain why and how women need to pursue men with money in order to pay their rent and buy food.
While Lorelei and Dorothy fulfill their Paris nightclub engagement, Lady Beekman (Norma Varden) has filed charges regarding her missing tiara, and Lorelei is charged with theft. Dorothy persuades Lorelei to return the tiara, but it's missing from her jewelry box. Sir Francis tries to weasel out of his part in the tiara affair when Malone catches him at the airport. Dorothy stalls for time in court by pretending to be Lorelei, disguised in a blonde wig and mimicking her friend's breathy voice and mannerisms, and putting on a musical number show in the middle of the courtroom, which attracts, confuses and flusters the assembled, including the judge.
When Malone appears in court and is about to unmask "Lorelei" as Dorothy, she reveals to Malone in covert language that she, Dorothy, loves him but would never forgive him if he were to do anything to hurt her best friend, Lorelei. Malone withdraws his comments. But he does reveal that Piggy has the tiara, which is returned to him by the court. Back at the nightclub, challenged by the elder Esmond, Lorelei impresses him with her acumen on the subject of patriarchal money: "I don't want to marry him for his money; I want to marry him for your money. Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn't marry a girl for being pretty, but doesn't it help?" She also explains that, if he had a daughter, he would want the best for her, and that it is only fair for her to want the same. Once Esmond sees how smart she is, he willingly consents to their marriage. The two women have a double wedding, still singing together as they did in their nightclub act.
- Marilyn Monroe as Lorelei Lee
- Jane Russell as Dorothy Shaw
- Charles Coburn as Sir Francis "Piggy" Beekman
- Elliott Reid as Ernie Malone
- Tommy Noonan as Gus Esmond
- Taylor Holmes as Mr. Esmond Sr.
- Norma Varden as Lady Beekman
- George Winslow as Henry Spofford III
Reception/box office performance/aftermath 
Upon release in July 1953, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was greeted with rave reviews by both the critics and audiences. The film earned more than seven and a half million dollars at the box office and was the sixth highest-grossing film of 1953, right behind Monroe's next feature How to Marry a Millionaire. Monroe and Russell were both praised for their performances as Lorelei and Dorothy; and, as a result, the characters have become extremely popular in pop culture.
As a result of the film's success, Monroe and Russell were given the chance to put their hand and feet prints in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theatre; a spectacle that got a lot of publicity for both actresses.
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2010)|
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p248
- 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954
- "All Time Domestic Champs", Variety, 6 January 1960 p 34
- "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". Retrieved 8 August 2012.
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- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at the Internet Movie Database
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at AllRovi
- Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at Rotten Tomatoes