“Technically Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a musical, but if I were to judge it as such the score would be a lot worse.”
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, one of the movies that catapulted Marilyn Monroe to stardom, was actually surprisingly modern and enjoyable in my opinion. Technically Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a musical, but if I were to judge it as such the score would be a lot worse. In my opinion where Gentlemen Prefer Blondes shines is in its comedy, which is still absolutely brilliant to this day.
While watching the movie, and even to this very moment, I’m kind of conflicted about the comedy in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Not in regards to whether or not it was funny, I found it hilarious, but whether or not it was sexist.
The film follows two women, Lorelei Lee and Dorthy Shaw (played by Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell respectively), who have different outlooks on love. Lorelei believes that the best thing about a man is what’s in his wallet, and Dorthy wants to find someone truly special. So you have this classic “women are gold diggers” narrative that is no doubt in my mind driven by the sexist views of society at the time. Or is it?
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes does something really interesting with this message throughout the film, and especially at the end of the movie, where it kind of pokes fun at that idea instead of perpetuating it. Lorelei is not seen as the quintessential woman. She’s pretty dumb and does not hide her intentions in the slightest. But Dorothy kind of keeps her in check, almost to tell the audience that women like Lorelei are an exception instead of a rule.
This character of Dorothy while adding a lot to the comedy also checks the audience’s perceptions constantly. This, coupled with the fact that most of the men are portrayed as just as dumb if not more so than Lorelei, makes me think that there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. This thought is only cemented with the end of the movie when Lorelei explains her reasoning in a very transparent, philosophical way that makes you think about how we see all women. It’s brilliant.
These moments are surrounded by comedic scenarios that made me double-over with laughter which to me sends the point home a lot stronger than if Gentlemen Prefer Blondes had played it straight. Unfortunately, as I said, the music is the weakest link, and while some songs are good most serve very little purpose except to extend the length of the film.
I give Gentlemen Prefer Blondes a B