alr

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Screening on Film
Directed by Howard Hawks.
With Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, Charles Coburn.
US, 1953, 35mm, color, 91 min.
Print source: 20th Century Fox

Prior to presenting any onscreen credits or production logos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes offers the brash spectacle of Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe singing in tandem against a garish violet backdrop, their ruby-red dresses glistening in contrast. It’s a suitably potent opening to Hawks’ delirious musical, a film whose stylistic excesses match the insatiable appetites of its two female protagonists. Russell’s Dorothy Shaw longs for love and sex, while Monroe’s Lorelei Lee gravitates towards money and shiny objects, and the film charts the teamwork they foster while aboard a Paris-bound luxury liner in helping each other achieve these desires—a mission ushered along by extravagant Jack Cole-directed musical numbers. Somewhat unique in Hawks’ oeuvre for its rapt focus on female friendship and yearning, the film is even more remarkable in its wholesale burlesquing of the dominant sex, represented here as a gallery of gullible buffoons that recall the cartoons of Frank Tashlin. Alternately analyzed in the decades since as sexist or feminist, unabashedly capitalistic or radical, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes remains a slippery product of the same consumer culture it ravenously sends up.

Part of film series

Read more

The Complete Howard Hawks

Other film series with this film

Read more

Innocence Abroad

Current and upcoming film series

Read more

Ousmane Sembène, Cinematic Revolutionary

Read more

Afterimage… For a New, Radical Cinema

Read more

This Is Us. Two Films by Hong Sangsoo

Read more

Harvard Undergraduate Cinematheque

Read more

Cotton Comes to Harlem. The Godfrey Cambridge Collection at Houghton

Read more

Jean-Pierre Bekolo, 2024 McMillan-Stewart Fellow

Read more

The Practice (and Other Works) By Martín Rejtman

Read more

Chronicles of Changing Times. The Cinema of Edward Yang

Read more
Gene Hackman crouched beside a toilet with audio equipment

From the HFA Collection...