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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

by on 2013/02/17

Gentlemen_Prefer_Blondes_1953“Excuse me, but what is the way to Europe, France?”

* * * *

My favourite teenager Miss_Tree and I just completed a trip to London and Paris. I thought this movie about two ladies – one brunette and one blonde, one older, one younger – making the trip to the continent made thematic sense to celebrate our month-long focus on music and musicals on GeekvsGoth.com.

Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) are “just two girls from Little Rock” who make their living as showgirls. They are glitteringly wonderful, all singing, all dancing charming.

Unfortunately, however, the key idea of this movie is that their success isn’t tripping the light fantastic every night, it is landing a husband.

That’s making the grade.

Sigh.

Let me say first, this is a gorgeous, gorgeous film directed by Howard Hawks – not the least because Marilyn Monroe (Some Like It Hot) is a luminous, glistening platinum beauty and Russell is a dark, sultry siren in a pant suit. The centrepiece, the iconic musical number Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend is even better than I remembered years ago.

It is a thing of beauty this film. The musical numbers are so clever, so incredibly executed, they’ll stay with you for a very long time.

Again, too bad this movie is held together by an idea I really dislike.

I remember my daughter once talking to another girl about “finding a rich husband.” My daughter was quite young and her friend was talking about how wonderful life would be if one day they could marry someone rich.

Double sigh.

It was all very much in the same vein as Dorothy’s line, “If we can’t empty his pockets between us, then we’re not worthy of the name ‘woman.'”

Since I was already notorious for getting involved in kids’ conversations (and still am), I blurted out, “what about you girls simply make your own money and have a wonderful life all on your own without needing a rich husband? How about that?”

On the face of it, Dorothy, played by the no-nonsense Russell (The Outlaw), seems the one with the head on her shoulders. She plays chaperone to the fluffy, money-obsessed Lorelei. Lorelei has her lacquered talons into a rich heir Gus Esmond Jr. (Tommy Noonan). Forced to take a cruise ship voyage to Paris all by her pretty little lonesome, Mr. Richie Rich asks that she be watched by Dorothy.

Daddy Esmond, disliking the idea that his son should be entangled with a showgirl gold digger, hires a private eye Ernie Malone (Elliot Reid) to dig up some dirt on the fluffy little Ms. Lee. Dorothy is revealed to be just as much of a heat-seeking husband missile as Lorelei, falling head over heels for the loquacious gumshoe.

Hilarity, brilliant musical numbers and a trip to Paris ensues. Again, it is all very lovely and can be forgiven perhaps, because it is very much of its time.

I’m hoping my daughter can find examples of independent women all around her in her life, and I hope they are inspiring. One day, she will maybe be able to fund her own trip to Europe, and her life in general, without needing to ask someone else for a handout.

Self-sufficiency is a girl’s best friend.

* * * *

91 minutes

Rated G for great musical numbers and some gender issues

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