Preferring Monroe AND Russell: “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953)

Wow, what costumes!  When we first see Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, those glittering tomato red dresses they’re wearing assault the eye (in a good way).  And these are just the women to wear them!—so we are compelled to think.

Howard Hawks’s film is savory, one of the drollest and most attention-grabbing musicals of the ’50s.  In terms of personality and appeal Russell gives as good as she gets from Monroe, and Marilyn is more focused-on than in Niagara, also from ’53.  Though far from brilliantly sung, the songs are dandy.  “When Love Goes Wrong” is a ballad both bluesy and friendly.  “Bye Bye Baby” is a catchy pleasure.

A kiss on the hand might be quite Continental (as the movie’s song “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” puts it) but Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, with its setting abroad, isn’t Continental, really.  Rather it seems all-American.

Cover of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"
Cover of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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