Lorelei and Dorothy are just "Two Little Girls from Little Rock", lounge singers on a transatlantic cruise, working their way to Paris, and enjoying the company of any eligible men they might meet along the way, even though "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." Based on the Broadway musical based on the novel.
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There might not have been a better screen tandem, at least for males, than Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). The two were well known for their sex appeal. Russell was brunette. Marilyn was blonde. Their effects on men were the same though.
The two got along brilliantly on and off-screen. Marilyn had a tremendous inability to get to places on time. Jane would stop by her house every day and drive her to the set so she would be on time. Marilyn was involved in Freud and psychoanalysis. She tried to get Jane to read some of his work. She didn’t quite take to it. Jane was more religious and tried to help Marilyn find a religion. Marilyn didn’t quite take to this either.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a musical and musicals aren’t known for their plot. This one revolves around best friends and club singers Lorelei Lee, a blonde who covets diamonds and money, and Dorothy, a brunette who is more concerned with true love rather than material love. Lorelei and millionaire geek, Gus are planning an engagement. Gus’ father is not too happy with Lorelei’s lack of brain power. When the two showgirls head out for a European tour, Gus’ father sends a detective to spy on Lorelei. It is his hope that Lorelei will embarrass herself enough that Gus will be unable to marry her. Lorelei is too dense to notice his plot however. Instead, she spends her time trying to find Dorothy a man to marry. Although the U.S. Olympic Team is on board, Dorothy ends up falling for the detective who is trailing Lorelei.
Dorothy is not the only one looking out for Lorelei. Charles Coburn is wonderful as Sir Frances “Piggy” Beekman, a rich man who is enamored with Lorelei’s beauty. She in return, is enamored with the diamonds his wife possesses. Piggy happens to own a diamond mine so the two get along well.
It appears that they get along too well though when Lorelei invites him over to her cabin. The detective, Malone, is outside taking pictures of the two. Dorothy catches him taking the pictures. The two girls are able to get the pictures back, but as a thank you to preventing the embarrassment that the pictures could have caused him, Lorelei suggests that Piggy give her his wife’s diamond tiara. Piggy can do nothing but agree.
It all works out in the end though as Lorelei demonstrates to Gus’ father that she is not completely dimwitted and Dorothy dresses up as Lorelei, even singing “Diamonds Are a Girls Best Friend,” in a courtroom to prove her friend’s innocence. Gus and Lorelei are able to marry and Dorothy and Malone end up falling in love again and getting married as well.
But like in all musicals, it is the music that matters. Three songs from the movie still survive today. “I’m Just a Little Girl from Little Rock,” “Bye Bye Baby,” and most famously, “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The later is most associated with Marilyn, but the version that seems the most familiar was sung by Jane Russell in the movie. Still the Technicolor rendition of Marilyn’s version is most frequently replayed when Marilyn Monroe tributes occur on T.V. The three songs were all taken from the Broadway musical written by Anita Loos. Carol Channing performed the role of Lorelei on the stage. Some believe that Fox missed out when they didn’t get one of the greatest musical performances ever on film by not casting Carol Channing. But Anita Loos stated that Marilyn was the perfect Lorelei. The only original song included for the movie was “When Love Goes Wrong.”
With the success of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes came the ultimate success for any actor. Both Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe got to put their foot and hand prints in the cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Legend has it that Marilyn said instead of hand and foot prints, the two should have placed their breasts in the wet cement. Anyways, Marilyn put a diamond over the “i” in her name. It was stolen a few days later. Today a rhinestone is in its place.