Friday, February 5, 2010

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953
Dir: Howard Hawks

Go pick up that date and sit down and watch this with her. She will (I'm guessing) like this a whole lot more than you, but there is something to be said about what is going on in this film. It is, of course, a musical, and that might be too much for some people. It is most of the time for me. And yes, there are parts of this where that whole "just break into song and dance" routine for no reason might make you roll your eyes. They would all be throwaways for me if they weren't so fucking bizarre. Just watch them. The one where Jane Russell is the lead where she is ogling all these beefcake athletes working out is not female empowerment. It's just plain homo-eroticism. None of then show any interest in her. They all seem enamored with either themselves or each other. Seriously, there is a Roman soldier painted on the wall! The story itself involves two lounge singers (Russell and Marilyn Monroe) on a cruise to Paris (uhhh what?). Monroe's character is an amplified version of her blond bimbo that she unleashed in Monkey Business (1952), and here she likes to play dumb rich guys for fools by acting dumb herself. She just wants to be happy. And money, obviously, makes you happy. Russell is sort of a counterpoint to Monroe, also on the prowl, but for love. She is a pretty good looking woman but almost seems downright masculine next to Monroe. Even if the film is all about these Women being empowered by their "bold" actions, it is still a Howard Hawks film. Clutter in the frame, natural dialogue, "three great scenes, no bad ones." Plus there more of that "eye-popping" Technicolor to contend with. I suppose you can look at this from a feminist angle (based on that that was the whole point of the original book), but Hawks never cared for that garbage. And neither should you.


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