This is the beginning of my semi-spontaneous series of films from the year 1953. I’ve selected nine (9) films to watch from the year of 1953 that I’ve never seen. I doubt I’ll blog about all of them but we’ll see what shakes out from this.
This may be my fourth/fifth film by Howard Hawks that I’m watching, it’s definitely my third film starring Marilyn Munroe and I’m starting to believe that both aren’t quite my cup of tea entirely.
Let me take that back. I’m wrong. Hawks has given me the whimsy of Only Angels Have Wings, the tenacity of His Girl Friday, the lunacy of Bringing Up Baby and the dark beauty of Rio Bravo. So why am I thinking that this might not work out? A 4 for 5 batting average ain’t bad (or so my baseball friends tell me).On the other hand seeing Marilyn in playing the famed dumb blonde that people satirize her for. It was insufferable.
There’s something to the dumb blonde though. And this is something I’m curious about with movies, the character keeps a point close to the chest as the film winds up. As she’s attacked for being dumb and money-grubbing in her pursuit of men and her general looseness she comes right back at these judging men. She makes it clear that the dumbness is all a ruse, it’s a way to disarm these men and make them more comfortable so she can have a relationship with someone she loves. The money-grubbing isn’t the primary but secondary desire of the love; and just a benefit. Just as a women being beautiful being a benefit to all of these attractions men have of women, but at times it can seem as though that’s all the man cares for.
So do I forgive a movie that had me suffer through all the ditsy blonde moments without this context and trying to brush it under in one simple expository moment? I’m not sure. I don’t think the film could have as heavy an effect with it’s point if it let me in on the brilliance of Munroe’s character’s intentions. For the entire movie I sat there judging her. Calling her a gold digger and in the same breath being lost in her beauty. It’s a weird thought.
More to the point I kind of want to take a minute to praise Jane Russell for her showing in this film. While Munroe’s ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ performance is the stand out as it relates to general spectacle and musical bombasticness, Russell’s character is what kept me in this film. For an actress with 31 credits over 50+ years she stole the show. I walked in looking forward to Munroe and walked out loving Russell.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes didn’t hit me as the essential that was promised, but it definitely left some thoughts on my mind as it left me.
It’s interesting to me that besides the mention of the famed song I barely talk about the music in this musical… hmmm.