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GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953)

icon-dots A CELEBRATION OF 20TH CENTURY FOX

Marilyn Monroe, dressed in a tight pink evening gown, advises a group of chorus girls to “get that ice or else no dice.” Jane Russell, in a black lounging outfit, tries to vamp a group of Olympic athletes preoccupied with training. These are two of the most iconic images of 1950s musicals, both from the same film. Twentieth Century Fox had bought the musical adaptation of Anita Loos’ popular book as a vehicle for Betty Grable in 1952, but her box-office appeal was waning, even if her salary wasn’t. Monroe, on the other hand, was registering strongly in the rushes for Niagara (1953) and wasn’t getting paid anywhere near as much. So Fox assigned the film to her and cast established star Jane Russell as box-office insurance. The two were perfect as a pair of showgirls traveling to France, where Monroe hopes to marry her millionaire boyfriend. Director Howard Hawks helped soften Monroe’s image to make her the big star she would become, while choreographer Jack Cole (with help from assistant Gwen Verdon) made both stars look like accomplished dancers. Audiences made it one of the year’s biggest hits and still applaud revivals of one of the decade’s jauntiest, sexiest musicals. (d. Howard Hawks, 91m, DCP)

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