In 1953, Marilyn Monroe starred in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as Lorelei Lee, a lovable but shallow showgirl, who travels to Europe with her best friend Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell). The movie follows Lorelei's attempts to marry her rich boyfriend, Augustus Edmond, over the objections of his stern father. For Lorelei and Gus, the trip to the altar is littered with spectacular musical numbers, robberies, private detectives, and some very questionable photographs.
Monroe's first and most important accomplishment in this movie is making the manipulative and diamond-obsessed Lorelei thoroughly likable. On paper, the character is a complete nightmare (I ain't saying she's a gold digger but...). However, Monroe's natural charisma insures that you can't help but root for Lorelei despite her obvious flaws. Marilyn Monroe had that indescribable 'it'. When she is on screen, your eyes are drawn to her. And when Lorelei encounters problems- arguably at least partially of her own making- you pray that she makes it through okay. I guess one could say Marilyn possesses pure charm, something that is invaluable in a movie star. If Monroe hadn't made Lorelei so captivating, the entire film would've fallen apart.
The musical numbers in Gentlemen are a lot of fun. They 're highly energetic and Monroe and Russell have appealing voices and great chemistry. In particular, the lavish spectacle and sassiness of the film's most famous number, "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend", are enough, on their own, to be worth the price of admission. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that the rest of the songs, though undeniably entertaining, are nothing terribly special.
Monroe's singing voice, as I said, is very appealing. Her speaking voice, on the other hand, takes a little getting used to. In keeping with her carefully cultivated image, Monroe spends the movie talking in an obviously affected childlike voice. The effect, for a modern audience, can be jarring at first but as the movie goes on, it becomes less and less noticeable. This particular acting choice fits with the character of Lorelei, whose outward persona is all innocence and sweetness, but it detracts from the overall performance because it is very clearly unnatural.
However, the best surprise, for anyone totally unfamiliar with Monroe's movies, is that she is hilarious. In Gentlemen, she is heavily assisted by an excellent screenplay. However, the clever dialogue and playful scenarios could not have been put in better hands. Monroe enhances the already funny material with her impeccable comedic timing and gift for melodramatic flare. Not to give anything away, but one specific episode, involving the attempted retrieval of the aforementioned suspicious photos, devolves into a series of race-against-the-clock gags through which Monroe's aptitude for physical comedy is revealed and which are guaranteed to make even the most selective of viewers giggle. Anyone can enjoyGentlemen Prefer Blondes. It is a solid comedy, fast-paced, unpredictable, and gloriously entertaining. And at the heart of it all is that universally known woman whom almost no one takes the time to meet. We shouldn't let it be forgotten: Marilyn Monroe was an actress and a damn good one, at that.