Laemmle Theatres and the Anniversary Classics series present a tribute to one of the greatest stars in film history, Marilyn Monroe, during her birthday month of June. The program, part of our Twofer Tuesday series, features two of Monroe’s most popular movies—GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES and HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, both from 1953.
‘Blondes’ is an adaptation of the 1949 stage musical by Anita Loos and Joseph Fields, based on a 1925 novel by Loos, one of the first women writers to score a success in Hollywood as well as on Broadway. It tells the story of two showgirls and best friends, played by Monroe and fellow screen siren Jane Russell. Marilyn plays the endearing gold-digger, Lorelei Lee.
Master director Howard Hawks, who excelled in several genres, proved just as adept in his first and only screen musical. Charles Lederer, the writer of such films as Hawks’ ‘His Girl Friday’ and ‘I Was a Male War Bride,’ freely adapted the stage play. Hawks retained some of the songs by Jule Styne and Leo Robin, especially the show’s signature number, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” choreographed by Jack Cole and sizzlingly performed by Monroe in a bright pink dress. But he added new songs by Hoagy Carmichael and Harold Adamson, including a classic campy number (also choreographed by Cole) with muscle-bound athletes around a swimming pool. Monroe and Russell are ably supported by Oscar winner Charles Coburn (as a lecherous diamond magnate), Tommy Noonan and Elliott Reid.
According to Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, “Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell make a fantastic double act in Howard Hawks’ sparkling 1953 comedy.” The New Yorker’s Richard Brody wrote, “Jack Cole’s choreography offers some of the most incisively swinging musical numbers ever filmed.” Dave Kehr of The Chicago Reader added, “The opening shot—Russell and Monroe in sequins standing against a screaming red drape—is enough to knock you out of your seat, and the audacity barely lets up from there… a landmark encounter in the battle of the sexes.”
‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ opened later in 1953 and teamed Monroe with two other screen bombshells, Betty Grable (the top pin-up girl of the 1940s), and Lauren Bacall, who seared the screen when she co-starred with her husband-to-be, Humphrey Bogart.
In this picture three working girls set their sights on snaring a rich tycoon, but their plans go awry when true love enters the picture. Jean Negulesco directed the script by Nunnally Johnson, and the men in their lives are portrayed by Cameron Mitchell, Rory Calhoun, David Wayne, Fred Clark, and screen veteran William Powell. Leonard Maltin hailed the “terrific ensemble work in dandy comedy of three man-hunting females pooling resources to trap eligible bachelors.” ‘Millionaire’ was the second movie shot in 20th Century Fox’s new Cinemascope format, following the studio’s Biblical breakthrough, ‘The Robe.’ It incorporated Alfred Newman’s memorable score, presented in stereoscopic sound.
At the Royal Theatre only, Debra Levine, the editor of the popular online arts journal arts•meme and the author of several articles about choreographer Jack Cole, will introduce the 7 o’clock screening of ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.’
Our Marilyn Monroe double feature screens Tuesday, June 5th at the Royal, NoHo 7, and Playhouse 7.
Click here to buy a ticket to the 7:00pm show of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES with admission to the 9:00pm show of HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE included. Or, click here to buy a ticket to the 5:00pm show of HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE with admission to the 7:00pm show of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES included.