Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Review
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is based on the novel by Anita Loos, which was then turned into a Broadway musical by Joseph Fields. It's arguably one of the most entertaining Marilyn Monroe vehicles, giving her a chance to sing and act and also be at the centre of most male attentions.
The plot tells of two shallow lounge singers Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) and Lorelei Lee (Monroe) who are working their way towards Europe on a cruise ship. Lorelei is engaged to a very jealous fiancé Gus (Tommy Noonan) who is waiting at home. Lorelei is attracted to anyone rich, and Dorothy is a sucker for anyone attractive, and soon both are entangled in screwball-mishaps over Lorelei obsession with a diamond tiara that belongs to a lecherous and wealthy old man named Sir Francis Beekman (Charles Coburn). Beekman has to learn the hard way that Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend.
Watching the first act of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will leave most viewers uninspired by the onscreen proceedings. However, once the film has found its feet, it’s a very enjoyable effort that effectively balances comedy with some winning musical numbers. Director Howard Hawks knows how to have cinematic fun without cheapening the content of the film, and he lets his two lead actresses dazzle away and only pulls them back when they need it. Russell is a natural and physical (being a brunette) counter-companion to Monroe, and she certainly oozes as much sexuality as her blonde partner-in-crime. The film's title suggests which of the two we should favour out of the two, but Russell still manages to give her all both in the singing and acting departments. Indeed, her performance of Anyone Here For Love is the film's most exhilarating moment, more so than Monroe performing the memorably catchy Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend, which is the film's most spectacular number.
Whilst Monroe's character Lorelei is presented as a typical 'dumb-blonde', we the audience are never convinced as to the suitability of this tag. Far from being dumb, Lorelei, despite making some casual unintelligent comments, is shown to be astute, manipulative and highly in control of each situation she finds herself in. Her dumbness is almost a type of poison, falsely sucking in the more 'intelligent' males and weakening them in the process. Charles Coburn is fine as Sir Francis Beekman, the wealthy old man with less-than-honourable intentions, and little George Winslow has a jokey turn as Henry Spofford III.
In essence, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is the ideal movie format to utilise the charms of Monroe. Here she can act a little, sing a little, have fun and still be the object of male attraction. Monroe is often at her best when not taken too seriously; she revels in being able to show off her skills as opposed to being under pressure to dramatically act. At times, you wonder if she is over-accentuating her slow stupor, but it's all part of the Monroe package, and you'd miss it if it weren't there.
So, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a very enjoyable Howard Hawks musical romp that is both funny, slick-paced and worthy of anyone's attentions.
Presented in the film's original fullscreen ratio, the picture has been considerably restored by Fox and looks splendid, with sharp and vivid primary colour tones and a good detailed clarity that complements the transfer. However, the Restoration Feature included on the DVD indicates that a better picture transfer might be available in the future, so completists may wish to bide their time to see if another release is on the cards.
Presented in two track surround, with mono dialogue and occasional spatial channelling bestowed upon the musical elements of the sound mix. The mix is strong, with a distinct lack of hiss and clearly audible elements.
Menu: A static menu in keeping with the other discs in the Marilyn Monroe Collection.
Restoration Featurette: A detailed three minute featurette that offers an explanation and a demonstration as to how Fox exhaustively restored the film for release.
Movietone News: Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell In Cement: A one minute featurette on the news item where Monroe and Russell leave their handprints at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Trailer: An enjoyable trailer that highlights the film's better moments, despite being a fuzzy visual presentation.
Lobby Card: A still of a lobby card used to promote the film.
One Sheet: A still of a One sheet used to promote the film.
A decent presentation of an enjoyable Monroe film, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has a few sparse extras at its disposal, and is one of the more memorable titles included in the Marilyn Monroe Collection.