Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)

Cinema Classics Seminar: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

A Girl’s Best Friend: Female Friendship on Film
Wednesday, May 2, 6:30 pm
Instructor: Andrew Owen, Ph.D., Department of Sociology and Criminology, Cabrini University
Location: Multimedia Room
Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members
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Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) is a delightful musical comedy featuring two of the most iconic screen personalities of ‘50s Hollywood—Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe—yet, beneath the surface, it is also concerned with the era’s evolving gender dynamics. In addition to touching upon the film’s production history, visual style, and initial reception, this seminar will examine the complex depiction of the “vamp” within Howard Hawks’s adaptation of the 1949 Broadway musical. Based on the nineteenth-century Gothic depiction of the female vampire, the vamp has become a popular archetype of Western cinema, combining Biblical conceptions of the feminine (e.g., Eve, Delilah, and Salome), among other elements, to present a character driven by greed and steeped in sexual deception, who ultimately destroys the males that succumb to her.

But Howard Hawks (Scarface, His Girl Friday, Red River) never met a Hollywood trope head-on. By utilizing a comedic approach, along with musical elements, the film transcends the morality-tale formula typically associated with vamp characters. Although the dominant female still preys on the subordinate male, the use of humor obviates the necessity for judgment, therefore enabling Gentlemen to offer a more sophisticated examination of sexual politics. Such a perspective suggests an interesting comparison of Russell’s Dorothy Shaw and Monroe’s Lorelei Lee to some of Hawks’s more commanding male characters, epitomized by Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne in The Big Sleep and Rio Bravo, respectively. We know this is pretty weighty stuff for a ‘50s Technicolor musical, but don’t worry—there will still be plenty of time to discuss “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. Students meet in the 2nd floor Multimedia room for an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. The film itself is shown in one of our theaters. Your ticket for the screening, as well as popcorn and a drink, are included with your registration.
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  • Wednesday, May 2
    6:30pm 2018-05-02 18:30:00 2018-05-02 20:30:00 America/New_York Cinema Classics Seminar: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes Bryn Mawr Film Institute, Bryn Mawr, PA