Movie Monday: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 1953
As a child, I loved watching glamorous Hollywood musicals, and performing my favorite song and dance numbers with girlfriends in our driveway. I wonder what the neighbors thought? About a year ago, I decided to revisit the classic Marilyn and Jane movie (I've been a long-time fan of Jane Russell!), but sadly felt a little let down by all of the fluff. So I gave up about twenty-minutes in. I'm not sure if I just wasn't in the right mood, but after watching some Jane Russell clips on Youtube last week, I thought I'd give it another go. And I'm so glad that I did!
Lorelei (Monroe) and Dorothy (Russell) are best friends and coworkers- dancing on stages and nightclubs around the world, and breaking hearts wherever they go. Lorelei is always watchful for possible diamond gifters, while Dorothy's ideal man has a cute face, can keep up with witty banter, and can show her a fun time. But things get serious when Lorelei snags a millionaire fiance, and Dorothy takes it upon herself to make sure her friend doesn't mess things up this time. It proves to be a difficult task when a private detective follows the girls to see how loyal the beautiful, blonde fiance really is.
At first glance, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes might appear to be an escapist musical comedy with all of the glitter, costumes, and diamonds that we love from the '50s. And I'm sure it can be that way for most of the viewers. I, however, look at this movie as sort of a satirical view of current cultural norms from when this movie was made. Some norms don't change as much as we think, but I suppose as a culture, we do expect more of women in the brains department than we did in the '50s. The point of this film is that women and men are similar in the way they objectify one another and place expectations and fantasies on the shoulders of someone of the opposite sex. Is Marilyn's character really brainless and ditzy? No, she isn't. And it isn't revealed until the end. And is she justified in her gold-digger tactics? Certainly not- but she has proven her point that the opposite sexes are more equal than they seem.