From ‘Blondes’ to ‘Millionaire’ in San Jose

Back in 1953, Marilyn was the undisputed queen of the box office. Two great movies from that golden year – Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire – will be screened as a double bill at 3 Below Theaters in San Jose, California on July 31 and August 2, beginning at 5:45 pm.

Richard von Busack reviews both films for MetroActive.

“An ungodly amount of kitsch surrounds the suffering and decline of Marilyn Monroe, obscuring how much fun she was to watch. A double bill of 1953’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (July 31-Aug. 12) and How to Marry a Millionaire(July 31-Aug. 5) explains the appeal.

Marry isn’t as magic—it’s a reprise of a frequently filmed script with three Manhattan ladies (Lauren Bacall, a myopic Marilyn, and Betty Grable) trying their luck with various menfolk. But for some reason Monroe excelled in 1920s settings, as in Some Like it Hot.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is based on Anita Loos’ superb comedic novel about Jazz Age siren and showgirl Lorelei Lee (Monroe) boating to Paris with her traveling companion Dorothy (Jane Russell, dark, shrewd and macha, where Marilyn is tentative, breathy and squeaky.)

The effervescent composer Jule Styne gave MM two of her best numbers. Her duet with Russell on ‘Two Little Girls from Little Rock’ is an outrageously bold opener of spangles, tinsel and girl power. ‘Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend’ is the moment when Marilyn started to captivate the world. Producer and director Howard Hawks told biographer Joseph McBride that he hadn’t been interested in production numbers. Thus this brief 91-minute musical has the sharpness and compact size of great cabaret, highlighting the bright screwball comedy and the hot pink and fire-orange color scheme.”