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20th Century Fox presents
"Because, if a girl is spending all of her time worrying about the money that she doesn't have... how is she going to have time for being in love? I want you to find happiness and stop having fun."
DVD ReviewThe second of Marilyn Monroe's 1953 triple play that made her a star, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, is a much loved musical in which she co-stars as the irrepressible Lorelei Lee with Jane Russell, who plays the sensible Dorothy Shaw. This film is pure entertainment, mostly singing and dancing riding along atop a fairly uncomplicated plot line.
Monroe's Lorelei is engaged to the son of a rich man, Gus Esmond, and the plan is to be married in Paris after a transatlantic ocean voyage. But Esmond's father changes the plan so that Lorelei will make the trip accompanied by her friend and singing partner Dorothy, as a sort of test of her suitability for his son. Marilyn is very attractive in this lightweight role, the character by which ultimately she is defined in many people's minds. It remains one of the most memorable of her portrayals, and the sequence of her performance of Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend is embedded in the pop culture of our country.
Elliot Reed plays Detective Malone, whose job is to get whatever goods on Lorelei that he can, so that the father of Esmond can prevent the marriage between her and his son. He proceeds by romancing Dorothy, and ultimately snaps a compromising photo of Lorelei and Lord Francis "Piggy" Beakman, who attracted her attention when it is revealed that he is the owner of a diamond mine.
Dorothy is played by Jane Russell, who made her film debut in the notorious Howard Hughes project The Outlaw in 1943. It is interesting how many actresses of that era had such large star reputations built on such flimsy filmic resumes. Russell made very few major films in her career; mostly Bob Hope vehicles. She appeared in the sequel to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1955 called Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. Here she shows off her significant star power, and among some very good numbers, particularly interesting is her take-off on Marilyn's Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend in a trial sequence.
The somewhat overly cutesy story is really just a vehicle for the two female stars to preen and pose between musical numbers, but these production numbers are great fun and very enjoyable for any fan of musicals. The original novel and play was written by Anita Loos and was first brought the screen in a silent version in 1928. The story definitely seems to be a dated curio in our era, and probably was a little creaky for the audience of the 1950s.
This film was directed by the respected Howard Hawks, who, besides the aforementioned Outlaw, directed other well-regarded American films such as Red River, The Big Sleep, His Girl Friday and Sergeant York. Hawk directed Monroe in two small parts just prior to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, including a cameo in O. Henry's Full House, and her memorable supporting role in Monkey Business. Hawks and Marilyn locked horns in this production. After dealing with Marilyn's request for retakes, Hawks reportedly told Fox executives how production could be sped up: "three wonderful ideas: Replace Marilyn, rewrite the script and make it shorter, and get a new director."
Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+
Image Transfer Review: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is presented in restored full frame aspect ratio. The colors are quite brilliant and the image is very sharp. In looking at the Restoration Comparison, especially comparing the current version with the previous video master, it is stunning to see the job done in repairing this film. Notation is made in the Restoration Comparison that the registration of the image in not perfect and preparations were made for future improvements in digital technology in improving the restoration.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: The audio on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a newly remastered stereo in addition to the original English mono and French mono versions. The new stereo transfer here is probably the least effective of The Diamond Collection, but it does open up the sound enough to create a decent faux theatrical experience. The quality of the sound is very good and the musical numbers particularly benefit.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Diamond Collection, Bus Stop, How To Marry A Millionaire, There's No Business Like Show Business, The Seven Year Itch
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsGentlemen Prefer Blondes is definitely a memorable piece of American Film entertainment. Not a particularly great film, and not even a particularly great musical, it still contains a spunky performance by Jane Russell and an effervescent performance by Marilyn Monroe. Not the centerpiece of The Diamond Collection, but a worthy addition nonetheless.
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