Showgirl Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) becomes engaged to a wealthy nebbish (Tommy Noonan), then takes a cross-Atlantic trip with her man-loving friend Dorothy (Jane Russell). On the way, Lorelei flirts with the owner of a diamond mine (Charles Coburn) and is trailed by a private detective (Elliott Reid), who falls in love with Dorothy.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- At Sea
- Charles Coburn Films
- Detectives and Private Eyes
- Dumb Blondes
- Howard Hawks Films
- Jane Russell Films
- Marilyn Monroe Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell “give delightful, supercharged performances” in this classic musical comedy — which, despite bland male romantic leads and a lackluster second half, remains an enjoyable diversion. Monroe performs what may be her most famous musical number ever (the oft-mimicked “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”), and Russell — in one of her best roles — gets to perform a showstopper of her own (“Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?”) while surrounded by scantily-clad Olympic athletes.
In addition, the script contains countless zingy lines (“The chaperone’s job is to make sure nobody else has any fun; but nobody chaperones the chaperone — that’s why I’m so right for this job!” reasons Russell), and a surprising feminist subtext. As Peary notes, Monroe and Russell’s loyal friendship is remarkably strong for a pre-1970s film, and Monroe (who is “only dumb when men want her to be”) gets to make the eminently reasonable point that “men are attracted only to women with good looks, yet resent women who are attracted to men with money.” Lorelei may be a gold-digger, but she recognizes the way the world works, and — much like Monroe herself — is more than willing to trade her “wares” in return for what she wants out of life.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
Yes. Every film fanatic should see Gentlemen Prefer Blondes at least once. Discussed at length in Peary’s Cult Movies 3.
- Genuine Classic
- Important Director
- Noteworthy Performance(s)
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)