Friday Film Review: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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I’ve decided that once a month, I was going to to a “nerdy” review of movie or TV from the geek culture.  Mainly to break up the regular reviews.  Especially since, the last couple I’ve done have been, what you would call, “meh.”  Who am I kidding?  I just want to geek out more.

Today’s movie night recommendation is Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  It’s not for everyone.  It has singing, dancing, romance, and is all around the classic formula of a Hollywood musical.  It follows two showgirls, Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) as they embark on a trip to Paris and navigate men, love and well… diamonds?  Oh yes, and in case you didn’t know, this film features the iconic “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” number with Monroe in the pink dress.  It’s actually a funny number.  There’s also a very beautiful homoerotic number with the Olympic team and Russell that I was in love with.

Lorelei is the stereotypical dumb blonde and a gold digger with a heart of gold (see what I did there?).  She is engaged to a very rich man, who is also paranoid of her fidelity.  His father has her followed by a detective to keep tabs on her, but he is really interested in Dorothy, the sassy brunette who just wants to have a good great time with some Olympic athletes.

First, I want to say a few things about Monroe and the character she plays, because I feel like general audiences have a very superficial view of her.  I personally think she’s one of the most underrated actresses of all time.  She has impeccable comedic timing.  Sure, she’s known as a sex symbol, but she’s so much more than that (she’s a human!).  She was intelligent, tortured, and she studied with some of the best drama teachers in the world.  Unfortunately, this film is a great example of how she was pigeonholed into the “dumb blonde” character for so long.

But she’s so damn good at it.  Better than anyone I’ve ever seen.  Her face is expressive, and her tone is sharp behind the breathy whispers of her lines.  Her delivery is almost satirical.  She makes this film better, despite all of its shortcomings, and its own lack of depth.  This, teamed with Russell’s brassy delivery of wit, makes the film still worth watching.

There, had to get that out.

Anyway, I was going to do a feminist reading of this film, but I’ll make it quick.  This movie is super sexist, that’s quite obvious.  The title gives THAT away.  Although, to be honest, I don’t understand the title, because the men in the movie drooled over both girls quite equally.  But Lorelei had to have the bad rap.  She played dumb all the time (played, but wasn’t really dumb, despite even her friend being surprised at her wit) she only loved men with money and she was flirty all the time.  Dorothy flirted with ONLY poor men, and she wanted them all.  Now, I think this is interesting, because even though both women have a preference, one is clearly the bad one.  I’ll give you a guess.  Just one.  (whispers: it’s the blonde one)

Personally, the thing I absolutely LOVED about this film, was Dorothy and Lorelei’s friendship.  It was rock solid.  They loved and accepted each other for who they were.  There was no competition, no slut shaming.  It was a damn girlfriend utopia between them, which is so RARE to see in movies and TV, even now.  Even when Lorelei stole the tiara, Dorothy backed her up (in a very hilarious number, I might add).

But the best part was the mirror that Lorelei holds up to the double standards society has for men and women.  When confronted on her awful preference for rich men, she replies:

“Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?”

She’s basically calling bullshit.  She’s like, “hey, you all are falling over yourselves because of how I look, why can’t I have a superficial preference?  It’s not like I’ll be with just any old rich guy!”  This line is quickly followed by some more misogyny, but it still wasn’t lost on me.  She also explains, after the man rudely tells her “she’s not as dumb as I thought” that men don’t want smart women.  Correction: superficial RICH men don’t want smart women.  They want props.  It’s a survival technique.  Just like Dorothy only dating poor men and being smart.  They found a way to thrive in the male-dominated society.

Because they’re just two girls from Little Rock.  From the wrong side of the tracks.

Favorite Line: “My line? My most effective one is to tell a girl she has hair like a tortured midnight, lips like a red couch in an ivory palace that I’m lonely and starved for affection. Then, I generally burst into tears. It seldom works.” – Malone

Favorite Scene: Oh, so many. Let’s go with the first time Lorelei sees a tiara.  That girl just loves her diamonds.

Movie Stats:
Director: Howard Hawks
Release: 1953
Runtime: 91 mins
Rating: NR (safe for kids)

Currently streaming on Netflix.

More MOVIE NIGHT recommendations.

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