Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Showgirls Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to Paris, pursued by a private detective hired by the suspicious father of Lorelei's fiancé, as well as a rich, enamored old man and many other doting admirers.


“The greatest of all American artists.”

Jean-Luc Godard1


“The essay that marked the first phase of reevaulation was evidently Jacques Rivette’s “The Genius of Howard Hawks” in Cahiers du Cinéma in 1953. Inspired by Monkey Business, Rivette’s philosophical flights and you-see-it-or-you-don’t tone helped define the auteur tactics identified with Cahiers’s young Turks. Rivette and his colleagues became known as “Hitchcocko-Hawksians.” The essay, however, doesn’t seem to have been immediately influential. Antoine de Baecque claims that within Cahiers, an admiration for Hawks was controversial in a way that liking Hitchcock was not. (1) It took some years for Hawks to ascend to the Pantheon.”

Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell2


“Marilyn was just a frightened girl. She never felt that she was good enough to do the things that she did. It was hard to get her to come on time, hard to get her out of her dressing room; when she got out there, it was easy. We had a lot of fun doing Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, but there were a lot of times when I was ready to give up the ghost. Jane Russell would say, "Look at me—all he wants you to do is such-and-such a thing." And Marilyn would say to her, "Why didn't you tell me?" Very strange girl . . . she'd sit around the set and nobody'd pay any attention to her. People wouldn't take her out. And yet she had this strange effect when she was photographed.”

Howard Hawks3


“The Hawks musicals, A Song Is Born and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, demonstrate more decisively perhaps than do any of his other films the stylistic and intellectual unity of Hawksian cinema. (...) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, adapted from a third-rate Broadway musical, served as a dual vehicle for the pagan goddesses of protuberance, fore and aft, Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell. (...) Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell are presented as the ultimately inhuman extension of human grossness and exhibitionism. The scene of Marilyn trapped in a porthole has a bizarre physical quality which even the Marx Brothers never equalled, and Jane Russell's song number with an array of sexless musclemen is Hawks's ultimate comment on male narcissism and homosexuality.”

Andrew Sarris4


“Maar bij Hawks is uiteindelijk noch de charme van een genre, van een echte volkscultuur doorslaggevend, noch de precieze ideeën die zitten achter het spel met het genre, met maatschappelijke mythen en met zijn eigen oeuvre. Op dit niveau is hij nog steeds een ongevaarlijk en burgerlijk moralist.

Het oeuvre van Hawks wordt echter exemplarisch en revolutionair wanneer je oog krijgt voor de productieprincipes van zijn films. De idee namelijk dat een film en de betekenis van een film het resultaat zijn van een haast mathematisch spel van verschuivingen en eenheden. Filmers zoals Bergman of Fellini 'creëren' vanuit de overvloed van hun persoonlijke problemen, Godard of Pasolini filmen vanuit de overvloed aan zichtbaar materiaal. Hawks daarentegen filmt met een zeer beperkt aantal gegevens en hij bewerkt die gegevens.”

Dirk Lauwaert5


“Notoriously, Hawks worked in almost all the genres, treating them pretty much the same - the group could be cow-punchers or pilots delivering the mail or Free French patriots - it didn't much matter as long as there was danger and loyalty and sacrifice and a romance, salted with wisecracks and gimmicks, or, in the case of a comedy, plagued by humiliation, misunderstanding and descent into chaos. Tragedy and comedy were the two complementary faces of fun - the fun that involved life-threathening danger and the fun that involved a cascade of embarrassing mishaps. Given all this, it is not hard to see why Hawks' reputation rode on such a roller-coaster - how he could appear the constructivist of film (Henri Langlois), the master of pulp, operetta and action (Manny Farber), the French classicist, the Corneille (Jacques Rivette), the Greek tragedian, the Sophocles (Andrew Sarris), the serious moralist (Robin Woord), the bard of the male group (Peter Wollen) or of the Hawksian woman (Molly Haskell).”

Peter Wollen6

  • 1Jean-Luc Godard on Howard Hawks in Cahiers du Cinéma.
  • 2Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, “Observations on Film Art,”, 21 February 2008.
  • 3Howard Hawks in a discussion with the audience of the 1970 Chicago Film Festival, November 1970.
  • 4Andrew Sarris, “The World of Howard Hawks,” Films and Filming, July and August 1962.
  • 5Dirk Lauwaert, “Howard Hawks,” De Witte Raaf, september-oktober 2014.
  • 6Peter Wollen, Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film, (London: Verso, 2002), 56-57.
UPDATED ON 12.07.2021