Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Year: 1953
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Howard Hawks
Producer: Daryl F Zanuck/ Sol C Siegel
Writer: Charles Lederer/Joseph Fields/Anita Loos
Cast: Marylin Monroe, Jane Russell

Someone looking at this film from a modern, feminist viewpoint might be appalled at the gender relations on show as showgirl Lorelei (Monroe) has made it her mission to play stupid and be successful by snagging a rich man using her sex appeal.

Of course today's Monroe-esque starlets (Kardashain, et al) bypass the men and get rich themselves by doing much the same thing. Why bother cultivating talent or intelligence when people will pay to look at you naked (and before you protest, Monroe's shtick was the 60s version of naked)? One might think of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as Shallow Gold Diggers Throughout the Ages and the Idiots who Fall For It.

But as part of film history it's fairly essential viewing. Lorelei and friend Dorothy (Russell) are club singers who board a cruise ship bound for France. Lorelei is engaged to a rich dolt and it's never quite clear whether she really wants to marry him or loves him or whether she only really loves money and will fall for anything in trousers who offers her the biggest diamond.

Dorothy is much more level headed and cynical, and when the handsome stranger who seems to be watching them falls for her charms she doesn't even imagine the truth – that he's a private detective sent by the suspicious father of Lorelei's intended husband, hoping to catch the girls misbehaving and give the old man a reason to forbid his son marrying her.

It's peppered with songs and 60s sensibility, zippy, Billy Wilder-like dialogue and a mood that matches Monroe's mystique perfectly – sweet and glittery but with an undercurrent of breathless eroticism.

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