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  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Featurette - Movietone News: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Cement; Restoration Comparison
  • Photo gallery

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 87 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Do gentlemen really prefer blondes?

Sure, we know that some guys prefer anything with a pulse, but do men in general actually prefer blondes? I don’t see what the big deal is. Every blonde I’ve ever met in my life has been to some degree mentally deranged and totally delusional. I figure it’s the result of believing that men find them fascinating simply because of their hair colour, even if their natural colour is brunette and they have to dye it to keep up the charade. With fake blondes, perhaps the peroxide has a secret ingredient that slowly soaks into their skulls and penetrates the brain, turning it into a spongy hole-filled mass with the consistency of soggy Vogue magazines. On the other hand, natural blondes are born demented and get worse with age. I don’t know for sure, but whatever the reason, they’re all nuts and not deserving of the attention they get.

So who or what do we have to blame for this epidemic of hair colour induced idiocy? Let me introduce the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The most famous blonde in history, Marilyn Monroe, stars as gold-digging hussy Lorelei Lee. She’s a shameless singing floozy after money, sex, money, a nice big house, money, money and more money. If nothing else, it just goes to show that you shouldn’t trust anyone with so many L’s and E’s in their name. Like Lenny Llewelyn, he’s a shifty bastard. And watch out for Leeane Lennerd, she’s a ho.

Anyhoo, Lorelei and her brunette friend, Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) are on a boat to France. Lorelei is on the lookout for anyone rich. Dorothy is on the lookout for anyone nice, while making sure Lorelei doesn’t do anything stupid to upset the father of her rich boyfriend back at home.

As is the way in these films, they get up to some naughty no-good, sing a song, get in trouble, sing a song, try to get out of trouble, sing a song, you know, whatever people normally do when they’re drunk on a Contiki tour.

The best thing about it for the viewer is that it’s harmless good fun for the whole brief running time. As much as Marilyn plays her money hungry temptress as a ditzy blonde, her character is well enough written to have plenty of clever lines and a hidden sense of logic to draw on when it counts. Jane Russell is downright sexy as the brunette looking for her own Mr. Right (even if Mr. Right is the whole U.S. Olympic Gym Squad, naughty naughty), but it’s ironic that the highlight of her role would have to be her perfect imitation of Marilyn - blonde wig and all - in a courtcase caused by Marilyn’s innocent theft of a diamond tiara from a would be married suitor.

Director Howard Hawks showed he knew how to put these things together the right way. The man who was also responsible for the classic original B&W version of The Thing threw in plenty of plain silly scenes which were surely trying to straddle the border between risqué and comedy back then. Today these scenes come off as harmless fun, but they still work in an era when many directors believe comedy can only come from violent slapstick and excessive foul language.

Finally, let’s not forget that song! Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend can be held responsible for every broke man on the planet who’s had to bury himself in debt for the sake of a bit of shiny glass to please his nastier half.

Men should never have to know the horror of the four C’s: Cut, Carat, Colour and Clarity. They should be focusing on the four B’s instead: Beer, Babes and Boobs and Barbeques. Of course, two of the four B’s lead to the four C’s, but at least you can console yourself with the beer when it all gets too much.

If beer doesn’t fix your woes, then you could do worse than settle in with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the evening. The sexy blonde, the sassy brunette, the memorable music, the humour and clever script create what many fans warmly regard as one of their favourite Marilyn Monroe delights.

  Video
Contract

Naturally, these same fans would be the pickiest people to assess the quality of this DVD. Screw this one up, and there would be a lot of people screaming “Not happy Jan!” from the rooftops. As it turns out, they’re sitting in front of their screens at this moment pleased as punch.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was another film shot in the Academy Ratio (1.37:1), which was common at the time, and the DVD does the normal thing of presenting it in fullscreen - and what an image it is! Here’s another film you can safely discard if you own it in any other format, it’s simply that good. Starting right at the beginning, with our two stars singing in bright red sparkly dresses, you just want to reach into the screen and grab their hoomammas and squeeze them! Sorry, lost control there. The colours, whether it be costumes, makeup, sets, whatever, all look wonderfully vivid for the age of the film, and give the event a liveliness and richness that allow you to simply ignore the grain (if grain bothers you, that is) and very minor edge enhancement. In fact, forget the negative aspects, they are far outweighed by the positives qualities exhibited here, and will be a sheer delight for eyes.

  Audio
Contract

Complimenting the picture is the practically faultless Dolby Digital 2 audio. Sure, we could ask for a 5.1 mix, which would open things up a little even if it was a simple wraparound effort, but purely assessing what there actually is on the disc, all I can say is “What more could you ask for?”

Clarity? Check. It’s as clear as a bell, just like if you were on the soundstage with the cast. No annoying hiss, pops, farts, anything, with this transfer to bother you. Dialogue? Check. You’ll think they’re talking directly to you. It doesn’t sound overly forced or fake, just forward and bright enough to be pleasing. You’ll go to bed at night with visions of Marilyn singing lullabies in your ear. Music? Check. No point in all the other bits sounding good if the music sounds like crap! No such problem here. The songs sound clear, bright and great across the board. You won’t miss a beat, even if some are a bit average, you won’t care.

So thumbs up for the picture and sound quality, now if only they could have done a little something more with the extras…

  Extras
Contract

Oh well, three Monroe films down in this set, and the extras on this disc are the best yet, but unfortunately that isn’t saying much. First cab off the rank, there’s the usual Theatrical Trailer, then there’s the Restoration Comparison to show just how good this version looks compared to versions of old. Then there’s another Gallery with TWO images in it! I find it hard to believe that’s all they could dig up, but there you have it. Then, a bright light on the horizon brings promise of something more extensive and compelling to flesh out the anaemic extras so far - Movietone News: Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Cement. Load it up and give it a run and discover that it’s 48 seconds of the gals getting their handprints in cement. As much as I’ve always wanted to visit the kind of tourist sites with actors handprints and stars on the walk of fame and so on, I never have understood the fascination with immortalising people in this fashion. Where I live, it’s a form of graffiti and a neat way to piss off people who have just poured a new footpath or driveway. Still, I wish they’d have put a little more on the disc than this lot.

  Overall  
Contract

To wrap this up, just in case you haven’t bothered to read the preceding 1,323 incoherent words I’ve written with my own blood, sweat and tears, what I had to say basically amounts to that this DVD gets the thumbs up on all counts except the extra features list, which should go and sit in a corner and think long and hard about what it did wrong. It’s a pity that such a nice looking and sound film which is hugely enjoyable is let down by a weak selection of added material. On some of the other films in this set it would be forgivable, but with a classic such as this, a little more quality and quantity wouldn’t have gone astray.


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      And I quote...
    "A classic film on a DVD that looks almost as good as the pneumatic female stars."
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB1070
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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