by Trylon volunteer Caty Rent
Written in 1925 by Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes took the world by storm. There was already a stage adaptation in 1926 and a silent movie in 1928, which unfortunately is currently classified as a lost film. Then there was a musical on Broadway in 1949 starring Carol Channing. It ran for 740 performances and it is said that Marilyn Monroe was in the audience every evening for a month to study the part. It is from the musical that the Howard Hawks film was mostly born. Of course, from print to play to theatre to silver screen there are many things that end up being taken out or re-written, but Blondes still packs quite the punch in any of the forms.
Although Marilyn Monroe had already been in several films, this was her big breakout role. Jane Russell was actually the top-billed star because she had already been around for a few years longer. The actresses met in real life during rehearsal and hit it off very well. They became friends and it shows in the picture, which is one of the main themes that made it into all the reincarnations of Blondes. Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) are best friends. They stick up for each other and are good at schemes. Sometimes they don’t see eye to eye because they have very different personalities/demeanors, but they still care about one another very much. Lorelei is the secretly clever blonde bombshell always on the lookout for a man with diamonds, while Dorothy is more of the wise-cracking brunette heartthrob that falls for the broke fellas. The combination of the two is sweetly comical, and the one-liners are priceless.
Lorelei and Dorothy work together as showgirls. They are heading to France because the quiet, agreeable, and very rich Mr. Gus Esmond (Tommy Noonan) has proposed to Lorelei and his father does not approve of the marriage. Mr. Esmond finds out he will be delayed, so he and Lorelei will be unable to travel together. Dorothy is to watch over Lorelei during the boat trip. While they are on the dock, it is discovered that the entire Men’s Olympic Team will be traveling on the same vessel. Dorothy is more than thrilled to see all the hunks. Mr. Esmond seems nervous and reminds Dorothy why she’s there. She quips, “Nobody chaperones the chaperone.” Lorelei is also warned that if there is any hint of a scandal his father will most likely hear about it. Young, handsome, and with a quick attention to detail, Ernie Malone (Elliott Reid) has been hired as a Private Detective by Mr. Esmond Senior to keep an eye on Lorelei. At a cocktail party, the girls meet Sir Francis Beekman, (Charles Coburn) owner of a diamond mine. He is an older Englishman who likes to be called, “Piggy.” Lorelei decides to get better acquainted with Piggy, especially after she finds out his wife, Lady Beekman, owns a diamond tiara and she would do anything to get it. Much ado and hilarity ensue throughout the rest the the picture due to that tiara.
The sets and costumes truly make this movie something magical, and Hawks is a brilliant director. Some extra music was written for the film, with help from Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson. “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend,” is clearly the iconic take-away. Nobody could ever forget that perfect, over-the-top imagery. The magnetism and allure of the leading ladies transcends the screen. The girls were honored by being invited to cement their foot and hand prints at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. This film is a true classic and definitely a diamond that will never fade. — Caty Rent
Caty Rent is a confirmed ghost story and horror film addict.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes screens Friday and Saturday, November 7 and 8 at 7:00 and 9:00, and Sunday, November 9 at 5:00 and 7:00, at the Trylon. There will also be a special screening on Saturday, November 8 at 10:00 am, with a discussion of the book to follow next door at Moon Palace Books. Advance tickets for all shows can be purchased here.