Few movies are as delightful as Howard Hawks' Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). It has everything: clever production numbers, great quips, beautiful stars, and a zippy plot. But mostly the film sparkles just by ogling the twin pleasures of Jane Russell & Marilyn Monroe. Russell and Monroe play best friends and musical partners, wisecracking Dorothy Shaw and golddigging Lorelei Lei, respectfully. One of the best sequences plays like an extended joke on the movie itself, riffing on both the musical numbers and the two star personae that director Howard Hawks has so expertly shined up for the audience.
Toward the end of the film, there's a misunderstanding over jewelry that gets Lorelei (Monroe) in hot water. A tiara has reportedly been stolen and everyone thinks Lorelei is the culprit. Well, her eyes do flash at the mention of diamonds. Dorothy (Russell) attempts to buy her friend some time by impersonating her at a court hearing about the absent jewelry.
At first Dorothy isn't sure she's sold the Lorelei illusion. Jane fusses comically at her blonde wig, over selling the Monroeisms for the back row. The next time she's worried that the illusion is breaking she razzles and dazzles the courtroom to utter distraction with a coarser version of the number we just saw the real Lorelei perform "Diamonds Are a Girl Best Friend."
Just when it seems clear that Dorothy's (and therefore Jane's) approximation of Lorelei's (and therefore Marilyn's) 's breathless 'who me?' dumb blonde act has worked its trick, Dorothy's new boyfriend Ernie Malone (Elliot Reid) charges into the courtroom threatening to give the game away. Dorothy as "Lorelei" acts quickly to protect Lorelei and regain control of "Dorothy"'s man.
Your honor before he talks could I explain something?It's a real kick to hear Russell comically mimic Monroe's line readings while playing her own romantic story arc.
Well, I have a friend named Dorothy and she's a really good friend. And Dorothy knows that I would never do anything that was really wrong.
There's a certain young man that Dorothy likes. In fact, she's very fond of him.On this last line reading, Russell amusingly dumps Monroe's naive girliness for her own jaded womanliness. Dorothy's suitor is naturally delighted at this admission of love, even though she's underlined it as comic exasperation.
And Dorothy would never speak to this man again if he ever did anything to hurt me, Lorelei. So I think this young man had just better know that... well... well...
Dorothy thinks she's in love with him!
Needless to say Mr. Malone supports Dorothy's courtroom ruse and saves the day.
Jane's faux-Marilyn scene comes shortly after Marilyn's legendary "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" showcase. It's tempting to view this from a modern perspective -- "Diamonds" is the film's great legacy having been referenced countless times in pop culture since -- and assume that any performer would be hard pressed to follow that showstopper and mock it in the very next setpiece. But Jane Russell, a formidable star, doesn't sweat it. In fact, she appears to be having a complete ball. She sure had a pair.
The courtroom imposter scene isn't as famous as the musical numbers but it's as priceless as any missing tiara. All things considered it's Russell, top billed, who may be best in show. In the case of this 1953 classic, this gentleman prefers brunettes.