Monday, September 10, 2012

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes(1953).

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes(1953). A film adaptation of the 1949 stage musical, released by 20th Century Fox, directed by Howard Hawks. Cast: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, with Charles Coburn, Elliott Reid, Tommy Noonan, Taylor Holmes and Norma Varden. The screenplay by Charles Lederer. Music By songwriting teams: Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson and Jule Styne and Leo Robin. The songs by Styne and Robin are from the Broadway show, while the songs by Carmichael and Adamson were written especially for the film. Monroe's song, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" and her pink dress have been copied by Madonna, Geri Halliwell, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Anna Nicole Smith, Christina Aguilera and James Franco.

It is not long after gold-digger Lorelei Lee and down to earth Dorothy Shaw finish their nightclub act, when Lorelei receives an engagement ring from her wealthy boyfriend Gus Esmond, Jr., much to the amusement of her best friend, Dorothy. Gus's father, does everything he can to prevent his son from marrying her.

Gus sends Lorelei and Dorothy, ahead on the ocean liner Isle de Paris, headed for Paris, cautioning Lorelei to stay out of trouble. As the girls board the ship, the American men's Olympic team comments that "neither would drown if the ship sank".

Dorothy, has her eyes set on the athletes, while Lorelei searches the passenger list looking for a man for her best friend. Gus's father has hired private detective Ernie Malone, to keep an eye on Lorelei. While on the job, Malone, falls for Dorothy and bribes the headwaiter for a place at Lorelei and Dorothy's table.

That afternoon, while Malone is getting to know Dorothy better he questions her about Lorelei. While Lorelei, is busy with Sir Francis "Piggy" Beekman, who owns a diamond mine in South Africa. Lorelei, is beside herself when Piggy's wife, Lady Beekman, shows off her tiara.

After dinner, Malone tells Lorelei that he "clips coupons," and she mistakenly believes that he is wealthy. As the days pass, Dorothy falls for Malone, even though he does not seem to like her best friend.

One afternoon, Dorothy catches Malone taking pictures through the porthole of her and Lorelei's cabin and rushing inside, she sees Lorelei pretending to be a goat while Piggy, demonstrating how pythons encircle their prey. Now, knowing that Malone is a spy, the girls need to find a way to get his damaging film.

While Dorothy talks with Malone at the bar, Lorelei searches his cabin but cannot find the film. Trying to escape through the porthole, Lorelei gets stuck, but the little boy they had dinner with comes to her rescue.

The girls are able to get some strong drinks and sleeping pills down Malone and snoop through his clothes where they find the film. After developing the pictures, Lorelei shows them to Piggy, who is so grateful that he gives her Lady Beekman's tiara.

After they leave the cabin, Dorothy catches Malone, red handed retrieving his tape recorder that he had planted in their room. Malone, promises Dorothy that his feelings for her are real, but.. she does not believe him.

After arriving in Paris, Dorothy and Lorelei go on a spending spree and when they try to check into their hotel room, they discover that Gus, who has received Malone's report, has cancelled their reservations and credit.

With nowhere left to go, the women land jobs at a local nightclub and soon after, Gus comes looking for Lorelei. Hurt Lorelei, wants to make him jealous with her dance number, "diamonds are a girl's best friend."

 After Lorelei's number, the authorities arrive to retrieve Lady Beekman's tiara, but.. the jewelry has been stolen. Dorothy, wearing a blonde wig, then impersonates Lorelei in court while her friend tries to find Gus.

Will they ever find the tiara and will Lorelei ever convince Esmond, Sr. that she would be the perfect wife for his son?

Fun Facts:

Originally bought by Fox as a vehicle for Betty Grable. After the success of Niagara (which featured Marilyn Monroe), however, the studio believed they had a more potent and far less expensive sex symbol than Grable (who was earning around $150,000 per picture vs. Monroe's $18,000).

Marilyn Monroe kept insisting on retakes despite approval of takes by director Howard Hawks. When Fox asked Hawks how production could be sped up he retorted: "three wonderful ideas: Replace Marilyn, rewrite the script and make it shorter, and get a new director."

Marilyn Monroe wears a gold lame evening dress previously worn by Ginger Rogers in Dreamboat.

 In the "Ain't There Anyone Here for Love?" sequence, Jane Russell's fall into the pool was an accident. When Howard Hawks saw the dailies, he kept it in the film.

When told she was not the star of the film, Marilyn Monroe was quoted: "Well whatever I am, I'm still the blonde."

The ship model shown is the one used previously in Titanic and was refurbished to resemble the SS Ile de France, which is clearly named in the film. The model (2009) resides in a Marine Museum in Falls River, Massachusetts. Some of the ocean liner sets used were also left over from "Titanic".

According to Marni Nixon, the studio initially wanted Marilyn Monroe's entire voice dubbed, as they thought her voice was silly. Nixon thought that was "awful", as she felt Monroe's voice suited her persona so beautifully. Nixon told The New York Times in March 2007 that she ended up only dubbing the operatic "no, no, nos" at the beginning of the song and the phrase "these rocks don't lose their shape".

This was Jane Russell's only film with Marilyn Monroe. They got along well. Russell called Monroe "Blondie" and was often the only person on the set who could coax Monroe out of her trailer to begin the day's filming.

The story was based on an ocean voyage to Europe that Anita Loos took on the same boat taking the US Olympic Team. Whichever ship she actually took, the liner that is mentioned in this film was the SS Ile de France. The famous liner was actually used in the film The Last Voyage, but it has a more heroic place in history. It was the SS Ile de France that played a major role in the rescue of the passengers from the Italian liner Andrea Dorea in 1956, after the latter ship collided with the Swedish ship Stockholm off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The SS Ile de France was decommissioned shortly before the filming of "The Last Voyage," in which she was partially sunk for several key scenes. When filming was completed, she was towed to the scrap docks.

Marilyn Monroe reportedly suggested the line "I can be smart when it's important, but most men don't like it."

Judy Holliday turned down the role of Lorelei Lee because she felt no actress other than Carol Channing (who played the part on Broadway) should be cast.

The teaming of Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe proved to be so successful, critically and commercially, that Fox wanted to re-team the duo. A December 1954 item in the Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column indicated that the studio wanted Russell and Monroe to star in the film How to Be Very, Very Popular. Monroe passed on the project because she didn't like the script. In January 1955, the studio cast Sheree North as Curly (the part intended for Monroe) and Betty Grable as "Stormy Tornado" (originally intended for Russell).

For this film Gwen Verdon coached stars Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in both their dance and walk - Monroe with less sex, Russell with more. It's rumored that at one point in the film, Verdon dubs both Monroe's and Russell's swaying bottoms.

The film showcases Monroe's bubbly personality… in this light-hearted story about when a woman goes bad and men do not seem to really care… The dance numbers are what make this film so popular. I also loved the wardrobe in this film..

Now on Blu-Ray. Includes: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes How To Marry A Millionaire River Of No Return There's No Business Like Show Business The Seven Year Itch Some Like It Hot The Misfits.
Norma Varden (20 January 1898 – 19 January 1989) she trained as a concert pianist in Paris and performed in England before deciding to take up acting. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and made her first appearance as Mrs Darling in Peter Pan.

She acted in rep and made her West End theatre debut in The Wandering Jew in 1920.

From Shakespeare to farce, she established herself as a regular member of the Aldwych Theatre company where she appeared in plays from 1929 to 1933.

She then began to appear in British films, usually in haughty upper class roles. Visiting California with her ailing mother in the 1940s, she decided to settle permanently there and began her American film career.

She appeared in Casablanca (1942), The Major and the Minor (1942), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), National Velvet (1944), The Green Years (1946), Forever Amber (1947), Strangers on a Train (1951), Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), Witness for the Prosecution (1957) and The Sound of Music (1965). She had a recurring role in the 1960s sitcom Hazel as Harriet Johnson, the Baxters' dotty neighbour.

 She also appeared on I Love Lucy as "Mrs. Benson", the next door neighbor.


  1. Dawn, A couple of things. First, Howard Hawks along with Henry King could direct any type of film. Second, Jane Russell does not much credit for her comic timing. She's very very good with the quick witty comebacks. Not just in this film, but with her work with her pal Robert Mitchum. Third. She was real, I've told the story before of seeing her sitting on a wood fence watching horses on her Ranch in Santa Maria, CA ,she could not been more real or nicer to me., as she was to Marilyn . Jane helped her with her singing.

  2. This is one of my favorite films! I love the songs and I think Monroe was a great vocalist. She could sell a song, like Astaire. I'm glad to hear that Marni Nixon supported her singing.

  3. This is a great movie. I love the friendship between the two women. I didn't know that Jane Russell falling in the pool was an accident, i'm always glad when they leave real touches in films.

  4. Love Marilyn, but Jane is the standout in this for me. All of the musical numbers are great.

  5. Paul2, I'm also a huge fan of, Jane Russell performaces and her wit..

    I remember you telling us your wonderful memory of her. She always seemed like a very nice lady in her interviews. I know at one time she lived in Sedona, AZ.

    KC, I also, love all the songs in this fun film..

    Alyssa LM, Because.. I love my all my friends, I really enjoy movies about friendships. Girl power!!!

    Jane Russell, falling in the pool was so well done, it did not look like an accident. She looked good even when things went wrong.. What a pro..

    Kim, Marilyn and Jane, what a great team. I wished that they had performed in more movies together.

  6. Lots of good information here. Thanks. My favorite scene was where Russell was essentially playing Monroe while in court.


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