Marilyn, Jane Russell and the Female Buddy Movie

Writing for Collider, Julia Harari argues that the dynamic between the two leading ladies in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes gave us the silver screen’s ‘ultimate female friendship.’

“On the surface, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a musical about two man-hungry women who board a cruise ship and seduce a blatantly homosexual American Olympic team. But looks can be deceiving, and beneath the sensual costumes, catchy tunes, and irrelevant plot, lies a tale of female friendship that would put Thelma and Louise to shame. Howard Hawks’ 1953 classic sinks or swims on the chemistry between Marilyn Monroes Lorelei Lee and Jane Russell’s Dorothy Shaw, with the men fading into the background despite their best attempts at flexing muscles, bank balances, and street smarts … So co-dependent is their friendship, so sensual their behavior, and so insignificant are the objects of their affections throughout the film, that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes could easily be read as a statement on female friendship, agency, and sexuality.

What makes Gentlemen Prefer Blondes so different from many female-led films in the past (and present), is not only the very fact of the autonomy and willingness of female characters to take up space but to do so without ever suggesting jealousy, rivalry, or conflict between them. Instead, the film explores the lives of two women who relish their days as a duo and will only cross the finish line as a double act. Using their sexual and intellectual powers to their best advantage, the two leads are in control of every hip jiggle and eyelash flutter, not only ensuring that the story remains their own, but that the audience have a far greater investment in their friendship than whether Lorelei keeps her besotted nerd and Dorothy, her smarmy ‘everyman.'”