Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Directed by Howard Hawks with Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Charles Coburn
Gotta Dance: The American Movie Musical 1929-1953
1953, U.S. Hailed by no less than R.W. Fassbinder and the great critic Jonathan Rosenbaum as one of the top ten films ever made, Hawks’ classic musical comedy offers the American public bombshells in the shape of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell dressed as sequined Amazons. Blinding with brash Technicolor reds and lurid purples (“We purposely made it as loud and bright as we could, and completely vulgar,” Hawks said.)—and glittering with diamonds, a girl’s best friend—Gentlemen is “a landmark encounter in the battle of the sexes [in which] Hawks keeps topping perversity with perversity” (Dave Kehr). Lorelei Lee (Monroe) and Dorothy Shaw (Hawks discovery Russell) are the man-hungry gold diggers from Anita Loos’ bestselling 1925 novel (adapted countless times to stage and screen), two showgirls from Little Rock en route to Paris on a luxury ocean liner. The film’s gleeful satire of it all exposes a world of caricatures. But Hawks is good-natured: he looks, but does not judge, and even admires his two professional Women, just as we cannot fail to admire Russell and Monroe, who excel at a smiling send-up of themselves. Adapted from PFA film notes.
"Never again in her career will Monroe look so sexually perfect, no never. Her physical coordination is never more vigorous and athletically quick; she dances with all the grace she is ever going to need, all the grace and all the pizzazz — she is a musical comedy star with panache! ... She must be the first embodiment of Camp, for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a perfect film in the way early Connery-James Bond films were perfect...The first film which enables us to speak of her as a great comedian.” – Norman Mailer
Gotta Dance: The American Movie Musical 1929-1953 is a survey of the American film musical, a genre whose uniquely American exuberance and optimism entertained audiences through the dark years of the Great Depression and reached its apex in the 1940s and 50s, where our series concludes in May. From now until then, we will visit the musical each week, with titles ranging from well-loved classics such as An American in Paris (1951) to lesser-known B-musicals and intriguing entries produced outside Hollywood.
The movie musical may be the apotheosis of the American movie theater’s “darkened dream-world,” a seductive space with “surreal sets, sumptuous costumes, uplifting song, and an entire cast moving to the same rhythm” (Rick Altman, The American Film Musical).
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
May 4 @ 6:30pm
May 5 @ 8:30pm
May 6 @ 2pm
Bright Family Screening Room
$10. $7.50 for Members and Seniors. $5 for Students. Emerson Students Free.
Color, 35mm — Restoration Print from the original three-strip Technicolor negative!