Though I enjoyed the film, it was more so because of Jane Russell's portrayal of the witty and sarcastic Dorothy Shaw, who disapproves of her best friend's, Lorelei Lee's (Monroe), shallow pursuit of rich men.
Monroe's performance is almost cringe-worthy. Don't get me wrong — she plays her part as the gold-digging dumb blonde well enough, but it was painful to see her stereotyped in such a way. Whether it's her eyes glazing over when she talks to diamond-mine owner Sir Piggy Beekman (Charles Coburn) as she envisions a fat jewel for his head, or her fiancé, Gus Esmond (Tommy Noonan), scolding her like she's a child for bouncing on the bed, the film banks on Monroe's silly and superficial antics. But viewers can sense that there's more under Monroe's surface.
This is only confirmed when her character hatches a plan with Dorothy to steal back photos that Ernie Malone (Elliot Reid) took of her with Beekman, as he was hired by Gus's father to investigate Lorelei. As she directs Dorothy and gives her orders that display a previously unseen sense of acumen, Monroe's performance significantly brightens up, filled with more energy than in any other part of the film—including her performance of the song, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," now a staple of Hollywood history.
It was as if she was latching on to any chance she could get to prove that she was capable of being more than just "beautiful and brainless." It's a hunger that doesn't go unnoticed.
Russell has many witty one-liners to work with, her character a nice balance to Monroe's nearly insufferable one. Although Monroe was credited as the star who completely made the film, I have an inkling that if the film was made today, Russell's character would've been the more admired heroine.
Despite the misogynistic characterization of Lorelei and feelings of pity the film garners for Monroe, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" is still a fun watch — if one doesn't analyze it too closely. My best advice is to just take it with a grain of salt and see it for what it is: a 1950s comedy.
Watch the trailer below:
Reach Staff Reporter Agnessa Kasumyan here.