Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend

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"Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" is a jazz song introduced by Carol Channing in the original Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1949), with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Leo Robin.

Marilyn Monroe version[edit]

Monroe sings the song surrounded by well-dressed men.

The song is perhaps most famously performed by Marilyn Monroe in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Monroe's character, Lorelei Lee, has been followed on a Transatlantic ocean liner by a detective hired by her fiancé's father, who wants assurance that she is not marrying purely for money. He is informed of compromising pictures taken with a British diamond mine owner and cancels her letter of credit before she arrives in France, requiring her to work in a nightclub to survive. Her fiancé arrives at the cabaret to see her perform this song, about exploiting men for riches. Diamonds are an element in another story line in the film, in which Lorelei is given a diamond tiara by the mine owner, in gratitude for her recovering the photographs. In a later scene, Jane Russell, who played opposite Monroe, sang "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" in court, while pretending to be Lorelei.

Most of the song in the film is Monroe's own voice and sources differ on how much help she got. AFI,[1] TCM,[2] and a biography of film director Howard Hawks[3] say the only help she got was for the brief high-pitched introduction to the song (usually not included in singles), which was sung by Gloria Wood. However, an article in the New York Times recounting the career of famous ghost singer Marni Nixon claims Nixon dubbed the phrase “These rocks don’t lose their shape.”[4] George Chakiris can be easily spotted as a member of the admiring male chorus.

The number was later re-shot in CinemaScope, to be used as part of a CinemaScope demonstration held on the Fox lot in March 1953. Producer Darryl F. Zanuck told Daily Variety that it only took 3-1/2 hours to shoot the number in CinemaScope versus four days for the original film version. The public finally saw the CinemaScope version ten years later when it closed Fox's documentary tribute to Marilyn, but this has not been released on DVD or VHS.

Influence[edit]

Monroe's rendition of the song is considered an iconic performance and was ranked the 12th best film song of the century by the American Film Institute.[5]

Monroe's performance has been referenced by entertainers ranging from Madonna and Kylie Minogue to Geri Halliwell and Anna Nicole Smith. The music video for Madonna's "Material Girl" specifically employs a similar set and costumes for the singer and her male dancers. The song was sampled by Megan Thee Stallion and Normani in 2020 for "Diamonds", with the music video featuring a set and costumes evoking Monroe's film performance.[6][7] Monroe’s vocals can also be heard in the background throughout the song.

Moulin Rouge! version[edit]

The song is also featured in the 2001 film Moulin Rouge!, in which it is sung principally by Nicole Kidman in the role of Satine, the (fictional) star performer of the famous Moulin Rouge nightclub in Paris, at the turn of the 20th century. This film version is technically a musical adaptation that director Baz Luhrmann titled "Sparkling Diamonds". Although it consists almost entirely of an adaptation of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", this version differs from the lyrics in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in several ways. For example, it does not include the name Harry Winston in the chant of famous jewelers; rather, Moulin Rouge founder Charles Zidler's name was changed to Harold in the film, so his name replaces Winston's in the song as "Harry Zidler". Black Starr & Frost-Gorham was known by that name only after 1925, but instead of using their 1875-1925 name of "Black Starr & Frost", their name was replaced in the Luhrmann film by nonsense words (understood by many listeners as "Ross Cole;" in the 2002 DVD release, the words printed in the text captioning are "Black Star, Roscor"). And the potentially anachronistic line "help you at the Automat" was altered in the Luhrmann film to "help you feed your pussycat." Additionally, a lyrical snippet from Madonna's song "Material Girl" was worked into this adaptation of the song.

Other versions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953)". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2020-08-22.
  2. ^ "GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2020-08-22.
  3. ^ Todd McCarthy (2000). Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood. Grove Press. p. 505. ISBN 978-0-8021-3740-1.
  4. ^ Prial, Frank J. (March 6, 2007). "Voice of the Many, but Rarely Herself". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-20.
  5. ^ "AFI's 100 YEARS...100 SONGS". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on 2007-10-27. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
  6. ^ "A Banger! Megan Thee Stallion & Normani Team Up On "Diamonds"". idolator. 2020-01-10. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  7. ^ Gonzales, Erica (2020-01-10). "Normani and Megan Thee Stallion Kick Ass in Their New "Diamonds" Music Video". Harper's BAZAAR. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  8. ^ Derschowitz, Jessica (January 20, 2012). "Blake Lively channels Marilyn Monroe on "Gossip Girl"". CBS News. Retrieved January 31, 2012.
  9. ^ Lily Savage - Argos Is a Girl's Best Friend (& Outtakes)
  10. ^ "Ariana Grande Does Her Best Marilyn Monroe Impression".
  11. ^ POWERWOLF - Demons Are A Girl's Best Friend (Official Video)

External links[edit]