Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Directed by Howard Hawks

Artistic Value: * * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * * *

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When her wealthy fiancé purchases her a ticket to travel to France on an ocean liner so that he can marry her in Paris, Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe), a gold-digging singer, sets out for Europe with her partner, the flirtatious Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell). While on their journey, which they are making without Lorelei's husband-to-be, the two women meet the American men's Olympic swimming team, Piggy, the elderly but very flirtatious owner of an African diamond mine, and a young detective named Malone who has been hired by Lorelei's fiancé's father to gather incriminating evidence about her character and, thereby, put an end to her marriage plans.

Howard Hawks' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a colorful, fun, and appealing musical that is sure to captivate the viewer from its first moment until its last.


The story the director tells in his film is absolutely filled with entertaining incidents, charming comic moments, and playful intrigue. At one point, for instance, Hawks treats the moviegoer to the sight of Monroe lodged in a porthole after she has burgled Malone's room in the hope of finding there a roll of film on which are pictures of her apparently being romantic with Piggy. Elsewhere, the director shows her shamelessly flirting with that same eccentric older man, with whom she has become infatuated after having learned about his diamond mine, and, in a third sequence, he gives Russell the opportunity to imitate Monroe and even do a bawdy dance in the middle of a French courtroom. The movie is absolutely filled with such joyous moments.

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What is more, the numerous musical numbers with which the film is enlivened are, without exception, nicely sung, well choreographed, and wonderfully fun to watch. That in which Monroe performs the song "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" on the vibrantly red stage of a Paris nightclub while wearing a sexy pink dress and surrounded by troupes of adoring men dressed in tuxedoes is especially well realized and genuinely mesmerizing. Even though it may be the best routine in the movie, it is not, by any means, the only one that is entertaining.


Finally, I should note that both Russell and Monroe acquit themselves well. The former gives her character a daring, earthy sensuality and the latter presents the viewer with an apparently shallow and dimwitted gold-digger while, at the same time, giving him hints that there is more to her than she reveals. Both are also so vibrant and so consistently watchable that they greatly contribute to the movie's enjoyableness. Monroe is, I cannot fail to add, intoxicatingly sexy throughout much of the film.

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Filled with conniving, superficial, and duplicitous characters and imbued with a delicious naughtiness, materialism, and sensuality, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes really is a pleasure to watch. It is a genuinely fun, enticing, and surprisingly sexy movie.

Review by Keith Allen

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