“Playing up the usual style gap between Monroe’s acting and everyone else’s, and playing down her often-cited vulnerability, Hawks oversees a remarkable comic performance, with terrific line readings like beat poetry (‘Sometimes Mr. Esmond finds it very difficult to say no to me’) and bits of business that hint at a bizarre inner life (confronted for the first time with a diamond tiara, Lorelei can barely restrain her hands from pouncing inappropriately; after the tiara’s departure, she happily improvises a scenario of future possession, using a napkin ring encircled by a necklace as a stand-in).”
“Just months after Gentlemen Prefer Blondes opened, Monroe graced the first cover of Playboy, connecting one boom-time America to another, the Ziegfeld Girl to the Bunny.
In Hawks’s Gentlemen, the flat-chested flappers illustrating Loos’s book are swept aside by not-so-little Monroe and Russell, striding out with ‘Just two little girls from Little Rock,’ their opening bump-and-wiggle …
Russell is supposedly romanced by oval-faced zero-charisma snoop Elliott Reid, but there’s more warmth in her fondly bemused looks at Monroe, whose friendship is a front-row ticket to the best show in town. The girls, untouched by competition, present a united front, even transferring identities—Russell does a dye-job masquerade as Lorelei—until they practically exchange vows with each other in the most ironic wedding in Hollywood history.”
“One of the most famous lines from the book and film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is: ‘Don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she’s pretty, but my goodness, doesn’t it help?’
In the film, Marilyn Monroe utters those words as the character Lorelei Lee but the lines were written first in the novel by American author Anita Loos.
And Lorelei Lee is one of the most memorable female fictional characters for Australian crime novelist Shane Maloney.”
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes screens at sunset (8.30 – 9pm) on July 16 at the southeast corner of Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.
Concessions will be sold, and a limited number of lawn chairs available for rent. Admission is free, but donations to Three Dollar Bill Cinema are happily accepted. Proceeds benefit efforts to promote LGBT film and visibility.
Entertainer Barry Humphries (alias Dame Edna Everage) made this rather catty remark in The Spectator diary, July 3:
“When Arthur Miller shook my hand I could only think that this was the hand that had once cupped the breasts of Marilyn Monroe. I visited Jersey yesterday to see a small Marilyn Monroe exhibition in the Jersey Museum. It was part of a private collection assembled by a colourful local ratbag. The depredations of time had de-eroticised these famous garments, though some of the songs lisped by Marilyn were playing in the background. Alas, few of her fans know that they were mostly mimed by the actress and actually sung by Marni Nixon and Gloria Woods.”
“I don’t know about Gloria Woods but that isn’t right about Marni Nixon, who inserted the high notes Monroe couldn’t reach in ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’ from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes– sounds to me as though the whole introduction and maybe a few notes at the end are Nixon not Monroe, whose voice is appealing but very different. But the main part of the song is definitely Monroe.”
Marilyn Monroe’s legendary gold dress, designed by Travilla for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), features in Icons of Costume, exhibition of Hollywood wardrobe design, at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Philadelphia until September 5th.
Marilyn wore the dress while singing ‘Down Boy’, but most of the scene was cut.
Nonetheless, Marilyn modelled the dress for some of her most famous studio portraits, and caused a sensation when she was once again sewn into it for her appearance at the Photoplay Awards in March 1953, to accept her award as ‘Fastest Rising Star’.
But is it the same dress that Marilyn wore, asks collector Scott Fortner today…
“The dress Marilyn actually wore in the film (below) is a vibrant and shiny fabric, quite unlike the material of the dress sold at auction (above). In many other examples of proven authentic costumes, they look very much today the same way they did when worn by Marilyn in her films. Most often the colors match, as do the materials and fabrics … The dress that sold at auction is likely a copy of the dress that Marilyn actually wore. We’ll never know for sure if this was in fact the dress Marilyn wore in the number, though personally I don’t believe that to be the case. What is undeniable is the fact that there is more than one pink dress as there are actually two known to exist today.”
UPDATE: A last word from Andrew Hansford, author of Dressing Marilyn, a book about Travilla’s costumes…
“I was asked by the press if this was the original dress. I did a lot of research and found the following: it had all the right tags and studio numbers so I have to assume it was a Travilla, however and how many time I have said this is amazing, he always made a few of the dresses to check shape and wearability especially in this gown as it was so complicated to create. The dress she wore did have felt lining, this one has not – so no it was not worn in the film. I may have been tried on by her. But it stops there. The dress in the Travilla collection is a prototype and has so many corrections and alterations on it, including at least three cut out linings, which I can only assume did not work. Hense the felt. From his notes he stated she wore two identical copies in that scene as it took so long to shoot and of course no retouching then, any dirt on it and on with the next one.”