Best friend singing-dancing double act Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) and Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) have very different approaches to love. Dorothy is looking for a penniless hunk for a night of passion, whilst Lorelei is content settling down with her bookish but extremely wealthy fiancé Gus Edmond (Tommy Noonan). When Gus’ father imposes upon the upcoming wedding, Lorelei and Dorothy jump aboard a cruise ship to Paris, with the intention that Gus will join them at a later date and they will have the wedding in France. However, once aboard the ship the wealth-obsessed gold-digging Lorelei soon finds her attention drawn to Sir Francis “Piggy” Beekman, the owner of a diamond mine.
Other than her very small role in All About Eve, this is only my third Marilyn Monroe film after The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot, and I’d always assumed that once she became Marilyn Monroe, Movie Star she’d always be the main lead in her films, but here she plays almost a supporting role to Jane Russell who, I’m sorry to say, I’ve not seen in anything else. Russell gets top billing and I’d argue is on screen more, and is probably the more capable actress, comedian and overall performer. That’s not to say Monroe is bad, I just think Russell is better. Case in point comes from the many numerous musical performances throughout the film, within which it’s abundantly clear than Monroe is lip syncing. I’m sure Russell is as well, that was the fashion back then, but Monroe just can’t seem to match her mouth with the vocals. It’s a small niggle given how impressive the songs and dance numbers are aside from this issue, but it took me out of the film each and every time Marilyn Monroe “sang”.
Monroe’s character is certainly the most fun, but she’s also incredibly infuriating. Throughout the picture I wanted horrendous things to happen to her, as she has no qualms with fully admitting she is only dating Gus because he is rich, however by the end of the film she has a fairly sound line of reasoning that, whilst not being entirely devoid of sexism, still kind of makes sense from a certain point of view. Lorelei may be childish, naive and incapable of understanding something as straightforward as an address, but she also has her own way of reasoning things out that makes her entertaining to watch. There’s also a sense that she is actually just playing Marilyn Monroe. Whenever she and Jane Russell walk anywhere, literally everyone around them stops what they are doing to watch these two walk past. It doesn’t matter where they are, as long as the other people aren’t engaged within the same dance number as the two ladies they’ll have their eyes glued to them instead. I grant you they’re attractive, but so much so that every woman and child is drawn to their figures too?
Whilst I liked the character and particularly the sense of humour of Malone (Elliott Reid), the spy hired to catch Lorelei in an indecent act but who eventually falls for Dorothy, I found some of the elements to his story to be rather predictable, as indeed is much of the overall plot, but it doesn’t take away from just how enjoyable everything is. This isn’t a serious movie, it’s light-hearted fluff. There are some great songs (though I personally prefer Nicole Kidman’s rendition of Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend from Moulin Rouge, but that could be from familiarity more than anything else) and some funny scenes too, such as the girls drugging and stripping Malone to find a roll of film, and Dorothy having to imitate Lorelie late in the game. All in all, I had a lot more fun than I was expecting.
Choose Film 7/10
Yes, there is a lot of fun to be had here. I also found it better than I expected.
To understand why these two women could be magnets to everyone around them you really have to take the 1950’ies viewpoint. Today they may seem quaint but back then they were superhot. I do not think you could find bigger sex symbols in the early fifties than these two ladies.
I get that the actresses were superhot sex symbols, but their characters weren’t supposed to be world-renowned, recognisable idols! Regardless, it added to the campy tone, so I don’t mind all that much.
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