Sunday, September 14, 2014

Family Movie Night: Gentlemen Perfer Blondes

Title: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Director: Howard Hawks
Original Release: 1953
Choice: Mine
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
Based on the stage musical of the same name, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes tells the tale of two beautiful showgirls and their adventures in romantic conquest.  Dorothy Shaw, the snarky brunette played by Jane Russell, and Lorelei Lee, the deceptively ditzy blonde played by Marilyn Monroe, are on a boat bound for Europe.  Also aboard are rich old men practically begging to be poached and the US Olympic team.  Between the women in their dazzling wardrobes and the muscular athletes in their short, skin-tight swim trunks, there's no shortage of eye candy, no matter your preference.



Even before there was a stage play, there was a novel, written by Anita Loos and published in the Jazz Age, 1925.  The sexual politics aren't exactly progressive but Dorothy and Lorelei are no fools, either.  In fact, the women in the story run rings around the fellas from beginning to end.  The dialogue is frequently very funny indeed and Jane Russell sparkles.  For better or for worse, Marilyn is Marilyn.  Her acting never quite lives up to the writing but she doesn't ruin it either.  And my goodness, could that woman wear a dress!

The film had a budget of over $2 million, a lot of money in 1953.  Surely, at least half of it was spent on costumes.  How two struggling showgirls could afford so many high-fashion gowns is beyond me but the dresses are truly the highlight of the movie.  Kudos to designer Travilla.

The music's fun, too.  All of the songs from the Broadway show, including "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," were penned by Jule Styne and Leo Robin.  New songs were supplied by Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson.  In yet another stage-to-screen controversy, many were upset that Carol Channing was not cast as Lorelei but I think history has afforded Ms. Channing her due.  I would bet that for many people, it's Monroe we see singing "Diamonds" in our mind's eye but more often, it is Channing we hear.  Thanks to YouTube, we can have both.  (Credit the omnipresent Marni Nixon with an assist on Marilyn's.  Her voice was dubbed in for the tricky spots.)

A twofer from Channing:



Monroe:


*****

My Rating System:

5 = The best of the best.  These are the films by which I judge other films.
4 = High quality films which I feel could hold up well in repeated viewings.
3 = The vast majority of films.  They're fine.  Once was enough.
2 = I wasn't even sure I wanted to finish it.  It's not a 1 because I'm not prepared to say it's a terrible film - just not my cup of tea.
1 = A terrible film.  An insult to the art form.

30 comments:

  1. Thanks for a trip back in time to some of the great movies!

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  2. Oh My Goodness. Love this film. So much fun.
    Marilyn was born to ply this part. And I know it was the writing but her explanation of why she show marry the rich son was so great.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Esmond Sr.: Have you got the nerve to tell me you don't want to marry my son for his money?
      Lorelei Lee: It's true.
      Esmond Sr.: Then what do you want to marry him for?
      Lorelei Lee: I want to marry him for YOUR money.

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    2. Perfect !
      Plus the way she says it !
      I am giggling right now as I write this.

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  3. I was a kid watching Monroe perform "Diamonds are..." in the '50s and would have to rate it a 5 by your calculus --plus an exponent of 6 or 7 digits-- because it induced an early religious experience in me.

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    1. Now that's the sort of religion I understand!

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  4. I haven't seen this movie but I think I'll have to; I love beautiful dresses :)

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    1. No doubt about it, top-notch performance by the costume crew.

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  5. When I think of this movie, Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend comes to mind immediately. I think that has become the definitive Marilyn Monroe clip.

    I was never a Carol Channing fan; I could only take her in small doses.

    This has nothing to do with movies, but when I was younger my grandmother would sketch pictures of animals and ladies; she was pretty limited. She said she couldn't draw the guys correctly, and she didn't do cats, just dogs. All the ladies looked like Rosalind Russell. She must have been a fan.

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    1. When my daughter was little(r), I got really good at drawing cats. That's about my artistic limit.

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  6. A gorgeous and wonderful film starring two of the sexiest women of the time. $2 million comes to over $17 million today which is no small amount for a film.
    http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=2000000&year1=1953&year2=2014

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    1. These days, you'd pay $17 million or more just for Marilyn's contract.

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  7. I've never seen that one. That's the movie Madonna's video for Material Girl was based on, right?

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  8. My Monroe experience is relegated to All About Eve and most of The Misfits. I'm still working on her career.

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    Replies
    1. Some Like It Hot is much better than this one.

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  9. I love your rating system - I should probably take something similar for my GoodReads ratings of books, and so on. :)

    I haven't seen most Marilyn movies, but would like to be educated about them!

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    1. My ratings reflect my system with Netflix. I'm still refining my GoodReads ratings. I will say, though, I'm much happier with my GoodReads recommendations than my Netflix recommendations.

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  10. I haven't seen that one in a long time. I enjoyed it. I didn't know Marni helped with Marilyn's singing. I wonder if anyone sang in as many movies as Marnie Nixon did. I've never been fond of Carol Channing. Nice review. Thank you.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I wouldn't go so far to say I'm a Channing fan but she did bring a lot more to the table as a singer than Marilyn did. There's definitely character in that voice.

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  11. Fun movie. Loved it. I like your rating system...need to adopt something similar.

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    1. Sometimes I feel I should be more generous, like when my Netflix recommendations dwindle down to single digits.

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  12. I enjoyed this fun movie. I'd watch it again.

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  13. Jane Russell could out-sex just about any other female. She was intelligent and gorgeous. Marilyn Monroe always played herself, except in Misfits. Love your rating system.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think I'd seen any of Ms. Russell's movies before.

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  14. There is nothing like an old film.

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