[Editor’s Note: This review is excerpted from Judge Barrie Maxwell’s Precedents column, Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection.]
Originating as a book by Anita Loos and a stage play, this film is a super entertainment from director Howard Hawks. The story is nothing too intellectual to tax the brain, but it moves along briskly and incorporates several excellent production numbers smoothly into it. Simply told, glamorous showgirl Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) is intent on marrying her rich but very boring boyfriend. The two are to sail for Europe together, but the boyfriend’s father nixes that idea. When Lorelei decides to go anyway, her good friend Dorothy (Jane Russell) is persuaded to accompany her as a chaperone. As it turns out, a private detective has also been sent on the voyage by Lorelei’s boyfriend’s father who hopes to get proof that she is nothing more than a gold digger. Then a rich older man named Piggy (Charles Coburn) with a wandering eye and a grim-faced wife with lots of diamonds enters the picture. And as they say, anything can and does happen.
Marilyn and Jane work very well together in this film. They both have a couple of great solo production numbers at which they excel. Marilyn’s signature “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” song is in this film and she gives it a wonderfully energetic yet seductive interpretation. The two women’s beaux are nondescript types and even veteran scene-stealer Coburn is no match for Monroe and Russell who dominate the screen in every scene they’re in.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Bus Stop (see below) are the two best-looking transfers in the Diamond Collection. “Gentlemen” was photographed in Technicolor and the new DVD does full justice to the luxurious colours. The transfer (1.37:1 in accord with the original aspect ratio) is bright and vibrant, while maintaining a sharp image throughout. Edge enhancement is non-existent. A newly remastered Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound track is included in addition to the original mono one. The new track gives the musical numbers just a little more presence than the original, but neither is as expansive as the 4.0 surround efforts present on a couple of the other discs in the Collection.
The supplements on the disc include a very brief but interesting Movietone newsreel of Monroe and Russell being immortalized with their signatures and palm prints on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; a restoration comparison; the original theatrical trailer plus ones for the other films in the Diamond Collection; and a couple of one-sheet poster images.