Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 1953. USA. Directed by Howard Hawks. Screenplay by Charles Lederer, based on the novel by Anita Loos. Choreography by Jack Cole. With Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell. 35mm. 91 min.
When Marilyn Monroe passed away in 1962, Lincoln Kirstein published a moving obituary for her in The Nation. “As a classic comedienne of grace, delicacy, and happy wonder,” he wrote, “she certainly has had no peer since Billie Burke or Ina Claire. The lightness, justness, and rhythm in her clowning often held hints of something more penetrating. Her comic tone was sometimes disturbingly ironic; her personal style was more lyric than naturalistic.” This genius, whether manifested as a flash of innuendo or an artfully deployed infelicity, is everywhere apparent in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Monroe was cast as Lorelei Lee, an affianced showgirl who’s cleverer than she lets on. Chaperoned by her friend and showbiz partner Dorothy (Russell), Lorelei sets sail for Europe, where she is to be married. Her wealthy, would-be father-in-law, however, is skeptical of her intentions, and secretly hires a private investigator to follow Lorelei aboard—a task that proves complicated when he starts falling for Dorothy.