Friday, July 15, 2005

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks)

Two Howard Hawks movies in less than seven days. The good lord must be smiling down upon me. This is, as far as I know, Hawks' only musical, and it's his most female-centric film. Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe are the focus, the men are mostly wimps, ogling oldsters, and ineffectual bumblers. Most traditional films would pit the women against each other in competition for men, but in Hawks' world, Monroe and Russell are allies whose strengths and weaknesses complement each other. Monroe plays a gold-digging airhead; Russell is smarter and more contemptuous of money. That's only a launching pad for a series of gags and musical numbers that satirize our business-obsessed culture and the ways men objectify women, while revealing subtler, deeper shades in Russell and Monroe's characters that modify our opinions of them. Neither Monroe nor Russell are great dancers, and their singing voices are merely pleasant, but these weaknesses only add to the greatness of the musical numbers, giving them an awkward charm and an unpolished naturalness.

1 comment:

kristykay said...

This also has two of the strangest/coolest dance numbers ever: One with Jane Russell and several dozen half-naked athletes and the other the "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" number with Monroe, which is really not as much like the "Material Girl" video as I thought it would be. Especially the beginning which features weird French S&M women lamps and all of Monroes dance-suitors fake shooting themsleves in the head.

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