Feminism has come a long way. So this is about a pair of showgirls (Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell) on route to Paris via a luxury ship. A private detective (Elliott Reid) starts snooping around, and his purpose on the ship is to investigate potential infidelity. Now I will admit it: in my focus to watch everything that I could get my hands on that came out in the year of 2016, my wife and I fell a bit behind watching the classics of the past in making our way through the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. We seriously start our New Year’s Resolutions after her birthday in February, so we are back at it again. What better way to kick it back off with a Marilyn Monroe classic that I have never seen before?
Oh, to live in a day where this is considered to be progressive.
Now I must confess that I never truly realized the extent of how iconic this movie is. In fact, there are connections that I never put together until now, like the staging of the number “The Math of Love Triangles” from the underrated television series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, or the introduction number to Satine in one of my favorite movies of all time, Moulin Rouge. I was quite simply none the wiser due to my lack of exposure. I also don’t have a lot of experience with Marilyn Monroe movies either; I’ve seen bits and pieces of Some Like It Hot, but really, that’s about it. Watching this, you can totally see why she was considered to be such a big deal back in the day. She just exudes sex appeal, and she does it so effortlessly; you can totally see why men had their tongues on the floor for her. Sure, she is playing a bit of an airhead in this, but she can be smart when it matters, as you will see when you watch this. I also like the friendship she shares with the character played by Jane Russell; Russell is the better actress, so she does handle a lot of the heavy lifting in carrying this movie, and just like in real life, the friends that you keep don’t necessarily have to match your own personality 100%.
They made the right choice by making this song the finale.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a wonderful little musical. There’s not a ton of directorial flair, but there are charming set pieces and musical numbers a plenty. The costuming is ridiculously well done, and every time Marilyn steps out in a new dress, it is comment worthy. It’s only 90 minutes, it moves fast, and you should absolutely take the time to watch this if it is missing from your film education.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) ****
– Critic for Hire