Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Jane Russell, I’m sorry that this is what we have to remember you by.

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is not a great film.  Marilyn Monroe is lovely.  Her performance of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” deserves to be remembered.  But we have to wait a very long time for that number, and after it’s over, the film might as well be over too.

From the flat opening song and dance routine, complete with silly hand movements and forgettable lyrics, through the cringe-inducing acrobatic number starring Jane and the Olympic team onboard the ocean liner, we keep hoping that the film will improve.  All those pointy breasts and awful hats.  Even in Paris their style doesn’t improve.  The nightclub where the two American girls perform is trashy, the whole Paris sequence with its leering Frenchmen and tarty showgirls is depressing.  Ugly Americans abroad might be a better title.

Marcel Dalio, what are you doing in this film?  Here’s the man who played in Renoir’s “Grand Illusion” and “Rules of the Game,” who played opposite Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca” and “To Have and Have Not.”  In this film he plays a cartoonish magistrate in the scene where the Jane Russell character is pretending to be Marilyn Monroe’s character.  What a waste of talent!

(4 March 2011)

Some Like it Hot

My favorite sequence in “Some Like it Hot” is the one where Jack Lemmon (as Daphne) is dancing the tango with his millionaire suitor, Osgood Fielding III, a white rose clenched in his teeth.  You see the couple turn and now Fielding’s got the rose clenched in his teeth. Next thing you know, the rose is tucked behind Fielding’s ear and Daphne’s got him down in a dip.  Olé!

Whether Daphne’s mixing bootleg Manhattans in a hot water bottle for the other girls in the band from her berth on the train to Florida, or fending off Fielding’s advances in the elevator, you can’t take your eyes off Lemmon’s character.  Marilyn Monroe is delightful to watch, and Tony Curtis does a pretty good imitation of Cary Grant when he’s courting her, but Lemmon carries this picture.  He’s having way too much fun in a dress, and when he tells Tony Curtis’s character that he and Fielding are engaged, his comic timing is perfect.

Of course, Fielding gets in the last word.  Our two “girls” are in Fielding’s motorboat, escaping from the mob.  Fielding thinks that he and Daphne are eloping, and Lemmon’s got to tell him the truth:

Daphne: Osgood, I’m gonna level with you.  We can’t get married at all.

Fielding: Why not?

Daphne: Well, in the first place, I’m not a natural blonde.

Fielding: Doesn’t matter.

Daphne: I smoke!  I smoke all the time!

Fielding: I don’t care.

Daphne: Well, I have a terrible past.  For three years now, I’ve been living with a saxophone player.

Fielding: I forgive you.

Daphne: I can never have children!

Fielding: We can adopt some.

Daphne: But you don’t understand, Osgood! (he pulls off his wig)  I’m a man.

Fielding: Well, nobody’s perfect.

(11 April 2011)