If you tried to sit your average teenager down to watch a movie older than they are, chances are, they are going to try and scratch your eyes out an escape, especially if its in black and white. And let’s face it, matured adults of the Internet, how many old movies do you watch? Citizen Kane? A Clockwork Orange? That one time you fell into a turkey-induced Thanksgiving coma while watching Gone With the Wind?
As a culture, any movie older than 25 years is only looked at if it’s deemed a classic by the pop culture diaspora. But you know who loved musicals just as much as we do today, what with our adaptations of Sweeney Todd, Into the Woods, Annie (twice), The Music Man, Cinderella, and more? The 1950s. Maybe its time we gave these senior citizens of film another look. Let’s start with the infamous Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell classic, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Following the misadventures in love and music of two showgirls Lorelei (Marilyn Monroe) and Dorothy (Jane Russell). The two go on a cruise to Paris, only to encounter a bevy of characters, including a man with a large diamond Lorelei can’t help but desire, and a detective sent to spy on her who Dorothy can’t quite resist either. After Lorelei’s finance leaves her broke after suspecting her cheating in Paris, the two women are forced to fend for themselves, the girls start anew to great success with the French. Of course, it’s the 1950s so shenanigans ensue but all in good fun.
Ever wonder where Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend comes from? You know, the song Madonna parodies in the video for Material Girl. Well, it’s in this film, in all its sweeping glory and commercialism. And honestly, even have 60 some years, it’s still pretty glorious. Monroe is by no stretch one of my favorite actresses, but in this film, she owns that ditzy Lorelei and her gold-digging ways. Jane Russell is who I think steals the show and it saddens me we don’t remember her more. The songs are all excellent and catchy, even if they don’t use autotune and showcase both women’s immense talent for song and dance.
There’s go course the fuzzy fog of 1950s sexism that lingers over the film a little but for the most part, this movie is all about girls doing it for themselves. They get what they want at the end through their own wiles and wit, making their own way (and wage) in the world. While both are love/money obsessed, it never overloads their better judgement and honestly, the movie is all about them, so you could probably give it a pass. So if you’re looking for another musical to add to your repertoire and surprise your theater friends with some more obscure knowledge, I encourage you to give it a shot!