AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Director: Howard Hawks (Dir)
Release Date:   Aug 1953
Premiere Information:   World premiere in Atlantic City, NJ: 1 Jul 1953; New York opening: 15 Jul 1953; Los Angeles opening: 31 Jul 1953
Production Date:   17 Nov 1952--late Jan 1953; addl seq mid-Feb 1953
Duration (in mins):   91
Duration (in feet):   8,213
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Jane Russell (Dorothy Shaw)  
    Marilyn Monroe (Lorelei Lee)  
    Charles Coburn (Sir Francis "Piggy" Beekman)  
    Elliott Reid (Ernie Malone)  
    Tommy Noonan (Gus Esmond, Jr.)  
    George Winslow (Henry Spofford, III)  
    Marcel Dalio (Magistrate)  
    Taylor Holmes (Gus Esmond, Sr.)  
    Norma Varden (Lady Beekman)  
    Howard Wendell (Watson)  
    Steven Geray (Hotel manager)  
    Henri Letondal (Grotier)  
    Alex Frazer (Pritchard)  
    Leo Mostovoy (Phillipe)  
    George Davis (Cab driver)  
    Alphonse Martell (Headwaiter)  
    Jimmie Moultrie (Black child dancer)  
    Freddie Moultrie (Black child dancer)  
    Jean De Briac (Gendarme)  
    Peter Camlin (Gendarme)  
    George Dee (Gendarme)  
    Harry Carey, Jr. (Winslow)  
    Jean Del Val (Ship's captain)  
    Ray Montgomery (Peters)  
    Alvy Moore (Anderson)  
    Robert Nichols (Evans)  
    Charles Tannen (Ed)  
    Jimmy Young (Stevens)  
    Charles De Ravanne (Purser)  
    John Close (Coach)  
    William Cabanne (Sims)  
    Philip Sylvestre (Steward)  
    Jack Chefe (Proprietor)  
    John Hedloe (Athlete)  
    Gayle Pace (Athlete)  
    Alfred Paix (Pierre)  
    Max Willenz (Court clerk)  
    Rolfe Sedan (Waiter)  
    Bennett Green (Waiter)  
    Robert Foulk (Passport official)  
    Ralph Peters (Passport official)  
    Harry Seymour (Captain of waiters)  
    Alex Akimoff (Captain of waiters)  
    Donald Moray (Airport porter)  
    Deena Dikkers (Hotel clerk)  
    Dorothe Kellogg (Passenger)  
    Peggy Smith (Passenger)  
    Noel Neill (Passenger)  
    Barry Regan (Passenger)  
    Kay Garrett (Passenger)  
    Warren Mace (Passenger)  
    Roger Moore (Chauffeur)  
    Josette Deegan (French stewardess)  
    Raoul Freeman (Hotel doorman)  
    Stephen Papich (French waiter)  
    George Chakiris (Dancer)  
    Harris Brown    
    A. Cameron Grant    
    Richard La Marr    
    Becky Davis    
    Joel Friend    
    Ray Weamer    
    Tom Ladd    
    Richard Keate    
    Jack Boyle    
    Robert Cole    
    Bob Fuller    
    Larry Kert    
    Casse Jaeger    
    Manuel Petroff    
    Robert Street    
    Herb Lurie    
    Jack Regas    
    Gene Dailey    
    Frank Dernhammer    
    Ellen Ray    
    Leo Wheeler    
    Marlina Tepel    
    Stanley Hall    
    Frank Radcliffe    
    Judy Landon    
    Lisa Lang    
    Shirley Lopez    
    Drusilla Davis    
    Erin Martin    
    Roberta Stevenson    
    Edward C. Browne    
    Joan Collenette    
    Joan Larkin    
    Patricia Barker    
    Jamie Russell    
    Reed Maxcy    
    Herman Boden    
    Don M. Rosenstock    
    John Robinson    
    Mel Robin    
    Robert Diamond    
    Harold E. Coates    
    Wallace Bickmore    
    John Weidemann    
    Ron Nyman    
    Ray Long    
    Matt Mattox    
    Charles Hicks    
    Jack Dodds    
    Marc Wilder    
    Julio Bonini    
    Virginia Bates    
    Arthur Dulac    
    George Ford    
    John Marlin    
    Loulette Sablon    

Summary: After curvaceous show girls Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw finish their nightclub act, blonde gold digger Lorelei receives an engagement ring from her beau, wealthy Gus Esmond, Jr., much to the amusement of cynical, brunette Dorothy. Gus's father, who is opposed to the marriage, has prevented Gus from marrying Lorelei in the past, and he again intervenes. Gus had planned to marry Lorelei in Paris, and so sends her and Dorothy ahead on the ocean liner Isle de Paris , cautioning Lorelei to avoid any scandal. As the buxom beauties board the ship, the American men's Olympic team comments that neither would drown if the ship sank. Dorothy, who does not share her chum's preference for rich men, is thrilled by the handsome athletes, while Lorelei searches the passenger list for suitable men to escort Dorothy. Unknown to the women, Gus's father has hired handsome private detective Ernie Malone to spy on Lorelei. Malone develops a crush on Dorothy, and is one of several men who bribe the headwaiter for a seat at Lorelei and Dorothy's dining room table. That afternoon, after Malone engineers a meeting with Dorothy to question her about Lorelei, Lorelei is introduced to Sir Francis "Piggy" Beekman, who owns a diamond mine in South Africa. Lorelei is dazzled when Piggy's wife, Lady Beekman, shows off her tiara, for she loves to find new places to wear diamonds. That night, the companion that Lorelei chooses for Dorothy, Henry Spofford III, turns out to be a six-year-old boy. After dinner, Malone tells Lorelei that he "clips coupons," and, mistakenly believing that he is well-off, Lorelei endorses his romance with Dorothy. As the days pass, Dorothy falls for Malone, although she reprimands him for criticizing Lorelei's passion for riches. One afternoon, Dorothy sees Malone taking pictures through the porthole of her and Lorelei's cabin, and after rushing inside, discovers that Lorelei was pretending to be a goat while Piggy, pretending to be a python, was demonstrating how pythons encircle their prey. Deducing that Malone is a detective, Dorothy schemes to retrieve his film. While Dorothy occupies Malone in the bar, Lorelei searches his cabin but cannot find the film. Forced to escape through the porthole, Lorelei gets stuck, but Spofford helps her to wiggle out of her predicament. With the aid of some strong drinks and knockout drops, Dorothy and Lorelei then succeed in getting Malone's clothes and the film. After developing the pictures, Lorelei shows them to Piggy, who is so grateful for her "honesty" that she convinces him to give her Lady Beekman's tiara. After they leave the cabin, Malone is retrieving the tape recorder he had planted when Dorothy catches him. Malone assures Dorothy that his feelings for her are real, but she refuses to forgive him. Upon their arrival in Paris, Dorothy and Lorelei go on a buying spree, and when they try to check into their hotel, they discover that Gus, who has received Malone's damning report, has cancelled their reservations and letter of credit. Left on their own, the women obtain jobs at a local nightclub, and soon after, Gus visits in an attempt to reconcile with Lorelei. Although Lorelei loves Gus, she brushes him off, and outrages him with her tuneful declaration that "diamonds are a girl's best friend." After Lorelei's number, gendarmes arrive to retrieve Lady Beekman's tiara, but the jewelry has been stolen from the women's dressing room. Dorothy, wearing a blonde wig, then impersonates Lorelei in court while her friend tries to wheedle the price of a tiara out of Gus. Meanwhile, Malone, who has come to Paris to meet Esmond, Sr., deduces that Piggy has stolen the tiara and successfully retrieves it. Back at the nightclub, Lorelei convinces Esmond, Sr. that a man being rich is like a woman being pretty, and he finally consents to her marriage to Gus. Dorothy and Malone, who have also resolved their romantic difficulties, join Gus and Lorelei for a double wedding ceremony, and Dorothy advises Lorelei, "Remember, honey, on your wedding day, it's alright to say yes." 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Howard Hawks (Dir)
  Paul Helmick (Asst dir)
  Don Torpin (2d asst dir)
Producer: Sol C. Siegel (Prod)
Writer: Charles Lederer (Scr)
Photography: Harry J. Wild (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler (Art dir)
  Joseph C. Wright (Art dir)
Film Editor: Hugh S. Fowler (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Claude Carpenter (Set dec)
Costumes: Charles LeMaire (Ward dir)
  Travilla (Cost des)
  J. C. Joseff (Costume jewelry)
Music: Lionel Newman (Mus dir)
  Eliot Daniel (Vocal dir)
  Herbert Spencer (Orch)
  Earle Hagen (Orch)
  Bernard Mayers (Orch)
Sound: E. Clayton Ward (Sd)
  Roger Heman (Sd)
Special Effects: Ray Kellogg (Spec photog eff)
Dance: Jack Cole (Choreog)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Lorraine Sherwood (Dial coach)
  Dick A. Smith (Tech adv)
  Doris Drought (Scr clerk)
Color Personnel: Leonard Doss (Technicolor col consultant)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "When Love Goes Wrong" and "Anyone Here for Love?" music and lyrics by Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson; "Two Little Girls from Little Rock," music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Leo Robin, special lyrics by Ken Darby and Eliot Daniel; "You're in Love," music and lyrics by Lionel Newman and Eliot Daniel; "Bye Bye Baby" and "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Leo Robin.
Composer: Harold Adamson
  Hoagy Carmichael
  Eliot Daniel
  Ken Darby
  Lionel Newman
  Leo Robin
  Jule Styne
Source Text: Based on the musical Gentleman Prefer Blondes , book by Joseph Fields and Anita Loos, music and lyrics by Jule Styne and Leo Robin, as presented by Herman Levin and Oliver Smith (New York, 8 Dec 1949).
Authors: Anita Loos
  Herman Levin
  Joseph Fields
  Jule Styne
  Leo Robin
  Oliver Smith

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 1/7/1953 dd/mm/yyyy LP2925

PCA NO: 16244
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording
  col: Technicolor

Genre: Musical comedy
Subjects (Major): Diamonds
  Gold diggers
  Show girls
Subjects (Minor): Athletes
  Beauty, Personal
  Fathers and sons
  Impersonation and imposture
  Ocean liners
  Paris (France)
  Private detectives
  Ship crews
  Surveillance devices

Note: Anita Loos's popular novella depicting the adventures of "Lorelei Lee" and "Dorothy Shaw" first appeared as a serial in Harper's Bazaar (Mar--Aug 1925) under the title The Diary of a Hasty Traveler . After being published in book form as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady , the material was turned into a dramatic play by Loos and her husband, John Emerson (New York, 27 Sep 1926). Loos again wrote about her heroines in the novellas Why Not Brunette and But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes .
       An Aug 1951 DV news item reported that the musical comedy's producers, Herman Levin and Oliver Smith, would "have to scare up a deal for sale of film rights by 17 Nov or face the prospect" of the rights reverting to Paramount, which had produced a 1928 film based on the Loos novella. Paramount had released the rights in exchange for a percentage of the profits from the sale to another film company, conditional upon the sale taking place within two years of the show's opening. DV further reported that Columbia had tried to purchase the rights for Judy Holliday, but that she refused the role of Lorelei Lee. After Levin and Smith bought out Paramount's interest in the rights in late Aug 1951, according to DV news items, they sold the property to Twentieth Century-Fox in Nov 1951 for $150,000.
       According to a 23 Nov 1951 HR news item, the picture was originally to be produced by George Jessel and directed by Richard Sale, who was to collaborate on the screenplay with his wife, Mary Loos, Anita Loos's niece. Although the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, note that Sale and Mary Loos wrote a screenplay for the film, their work was not included in the finished picture.
       Sep 1952 HR news items speculated that David Wayne would appear in the picture as Marilyn Monroe's "Little Rock swain," and that songwriter Hoagy Carmichael was being considered "for a piano routine," but neither appear in the released picture. A Nov 1952 HR news item included Donna Lee Hickey in the cast, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. Studio publicity announced that dancer Gwen Verdon would appear in the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" production number "performing a 'wash-woman dance,' scrubbing 'Lorelei's' diamonds and hanging them out on a line to dry." The "wash-woman dance" does not appear in the number, however, and Verdon was not seen in the viewed print. Modern sources add that Verdon did serve as an assistant to choreographer Jack Cole, however. A Jan 1953 HR news item reported that Verdon was working with Monroe and Jane Russell on a "can-can number with a 'Three Musketeers' dueling motif," but that number also does not appear in the picture.
       Russell was borrowed from Howard Hughes's company, and modern sources note that as part of the loan-out deal, Twentieth Century-Fox was required to borrow cinematographer Harry J. Wild and Russell's makeup, hair and wardrobe personnel. A Dec 1953 HR news item and a 25 Apr 1953 NYT article indicate that the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number was shot in CinemaScope for a special trade and press preview showcasing the new wide-screen process. [For more information about CinemaScope, see the entry below for The Robe ]. To publicize the film, Monroe and Russell put their handprints and footprints in the forecourt of the famed Grauman's Chinese Theatre on 26 Jun 1953. In addition to their signatures, the actresses wrote "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" across their adjoining cement squares.
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the picture received a "B" rating from the Legion of Decency (objectionable in part) and was banned in Yugoslavia, although no reason for the ban was reported in the files. The PCA rejected the original version of the song "A Little Girl from Little Rock," which was sung on Broadway, calling it "a glorification of immorality." The song, with revised lyrics by Ken Darby and Eliot Daniel, was renamed "Two Little Girls from Little Rock" for the film. As noted by several reviews, only three of the many songs written by Jule Styne and Leo Robin for the musical comedy are featured in the screen version.
       Modern sources add the following information about the production: When Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the play, studio production chief Darryl F. Zanuck intended it as a vehicle for Betty Grable. Zanuck changed his mind in favor of Marilyn Monroe, partially in consideration of Monroe's salary, which was considerably less than Grable's. Monroe earned only $18,000 for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes , one of the films with which she is now most closely identified. Monroe sang all of her own songs in the film, with the exception of the brief "No, no, no" introduction to "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," which was sung by Gloria Wood. Modern sources also state that Hawks did not direct the large production numbers, leaving that chore to choreographer Cole. Modern sources also include Jimmy Saung among the dancers in the film. The costume jewelry for the picture was created by J. C. Joseff, the wife and partner of the late Eugene Joseff. Joseff founded the well-known and popular Joseff of Hollywood, considered by jewelry historians as the premier manufacturer of costume jewelry for motion pictures and television. Among the most famous of Joseff's works is a topaz necklace featured in several films, including That Night in Rio and Forever Amber (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ).
       Loos's novella had previously been filmed in 1928 by Paramount, in a version directed by Malcolm St. Clair and starring Ruth Taylor and Alice White. In 1954, Twentieth Century-Fox considered protesting the production of Gentlemen Marry Brunettes , which was directed by Richard Sale and starred Jane Russell and Jeanne Crain, as the studio felt that the second film infringed upon their sequel rights to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes . Sale, who co-wrote the United Artists' 1955 release of "Brunettes" with Mary Loos, changed Anita Loos's source material so that the film did not feature the characters of Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw, and Twentieth Century-Fox did not press its suit.
       In 1984, singer Madonna presented an homage to Monroe in her music video for the song "Material Girl," during which she recreated part of the "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" production number and wore a replica of Monroe's famed pink dress. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   4 Jul 1953.   
Daily Variety   15 Aug 1951.   
Daily Variety   22 Aug 1951.   
Daily Variety   14 Nov 1951.   
Daily Variety   26 Jan 53   p. 3.
Daily Variety   3 Aug 1953.   
Film Daily   26 Jun 53   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Nov 51   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Sep 52   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Sep 52   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Nov 52   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Nov 52   p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Nov 52   pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jan 53   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Jan 53   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jan 53   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Jan 53   p. 2, 18
Hollywood Reporter   28 Jan 53   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Feb 53   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Feb 53   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jun 53   p. 3, 11
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jul 53   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jul 53   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Aug 53   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Aug 53   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Aug 53   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Aug 53   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Dec 53   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   10 May 1954   p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   27 Jun 1953.   
Los Angeles Times   1 Aug 1953.   
Life   25 May 1953.   
Motion Picture Daily   26 Jun 1953.   
Motion Picture Herald   27 Jun 1953.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   4 Jul 53   p. 1903.
New York Times   20 Aug 1950.   
New York Times   25 Apr 1953.   
New York Times   30 Apr 1953.   
New York Times   16 Jul 53   p. 17.
People   21 May 90   p. 128.
Time   27 Jul 1953.   
Variety   1 Jul 1953.   p. 6.
Variety   9 Sep 1953.   

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