Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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“Don’t you know a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You may not marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?” — Lorelei Lee

Director: Howard Hawks
Year: 1953
Country: USA
Running time: 91 mins
Censor Rating: PG - cert

Producer: Sol C. Siegel
Screenplay: Charles Lederer. Based on the musical by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos
Photography: Harry J. Wild
Editor: Hugh S. Fowler
Music: Lionel Newman, Jule Styne, Leo Robin, Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Adamson

With: Jane Russell (Dorothy Shaw), Marilyn Monroe (Lorelei Lee), Charles Coburn (Piggy Beekman), Elliott Reid (Ernie Malone), Tommy Noonan (Gus Esmond Jr), George Winslow (Henry Spofford III), Marcel Dalio (magistrate), Taylor Holmes (Mr Esmond Sr), Norma Varden (Lady Beekman), Howard Wendell (Watson), Steven Geray (hotel manager)

Marilyn Monroe is at her most beatifically ditsy alongside Jane Russell in Howard Hawks’ dazzling 1953 Technicolor comedy seen here in a new DCP restoration. Based on Anita Loos’ 20s bestseller, the film pairs them perfectly as two best girlfriends prospecting for squillionaire husbands on a cruise ship heading for Paris. Who’d have guessed that the richest candidates turn out to be approaching senility or barely in long trousers? Monroe’s Lorelei Lee is the original for many material girls to come: her sublime ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ is a defining moment in Hollywood glamour. Meanwhile Russell’s Dorothy is easily distracted from the project: the entire US Olympic team is on board. — BG

“The opening shot – Russell and Monroe in sequins standing against a screaming red drape – is enough to knock you out of your seat, and the audacity barely lets up from there… A landmark encounter in the battle of the sexes.” — Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

NZIFF STAFF PICK: Felicity Drace, Bill Gosden