Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

“Thank you ever so.”

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
  • Friendship
  • Golddiggers
  • Howard Hawks Films
  • Jane Russell Films
  • Marilyn Monroe Films
  • Musicals
  • Showgirls

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:

  • Marilyn Monroe, perfectly cast in an iconic “dumb blonde” role
  • Jane Russell as Monroe’s loyal, man-crazed friend
  • Several colorful, energetic musical sequences, including one of the most famous in cinematic history: “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”
  • The surprise appearance of “Mr.” Henry Spofford III (and valet)
  • Charles Coburn as “Piggy”
  • Countless memorable lines and double entendres:

    “Those girls couldn’t drown…”
    “I like a man who can run faster than I can.”
    “I just LOVE finding new places to wear diamonds!”

Must See?
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)


One thought on “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

  1. A perfectly delightful must – with dazzling production and costume design and more quotable lines than there’s space here for; it can easily be returned to from time to time. Personally – though who’s paying attention to them? – I don’t find the male romantic leads a problem (I like how Noonan basically plays Cary Grant in ‘Bringing Up Baby’, though it’s Reid who, like Grant, dons a gown), and the picture’s second half doesn’t seem lackluster to me.

    ‘GPB’ begins a triptych of films – followed by ‘How To Marry a Millionaire’ and ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’ – in which Monroe is more or less handed the torch of allure to carry throughout the decade. Unlike most of her female co-stars, it’s a light MM carries to this day. (Though I’m not a fierce MM fan, she really had a quality separate from yet linked with her very carefully manufactured presence. In ‘GPB’, she seems to effortlessly grab focus and – for all her appeal – Jane Russell may as well be Bea Arthur.)

    The ‘Diamonds’ number almost puts Vincente Minnelli to shame – the “You stand tall at Tiffany’s” moment is sublime. Though its root is hetero, ‘Ain’t There Anyone Here for Love?’ comes off marvelously as homoerotic display; is it me or are ALL the men wearing flesh-colored trunks?

    Dialogue gems are sprinkled out for everybody – little George Winslow is esp. adorable when using the term “animal magnetism” – but just about everything MM is given to say is wit matched with comic precision. If I had to choose a favorite, it’s her response to Russell’s remark that “…some people just don’t care about money.”: “Please, don’t be silly, we’re talking serious. …I want you to find happiness and stop having fun!”

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