Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Hawks, 1953)

Defining a perfect film isn't easy.  Many students argue that a perfect film is one which never loses your attention (an unsurprising definition in the age of the smartphone, I suppose).  Popular critics have been known to say that it's a series of great scenes.  For some, it is to be moved emotionally or made to laugh or gasp in awe.  While I've been known to call a film "perfect," I don't know the criteria beyond on a gut level.  Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, however, feels perfect to me while also satisfying the criteria above.  

GPB's costume design ranks among the best and most memorable (though, not being period, it doesn't get a lot of attention).  Marilyn Monroe's Lorelei Lee in that hot pink dress in front of a red scrim . . . the boldness of that clash is something one comes to expect from the Oscar-winning (William Jack) Travilla, a costume designer known for works as various as Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata! (1952) and the 1980s television show Dallas


Travilla was known for dressing Monroe: they worked together to create some of her most iconic looks, including for River of No Return, Monkey Business, How to Marry a Millionaire, Don't Bother to Knock and that famous white dress from The Seven Year Itch.  For GPB, Travilla worked with Charles Le Maire, his frequent collaborator, who actually worked with Monroe first in All About Eve.  

Monroe's costumes—and that rebellious pink/red clash!—are not the only costuming triumphs in the film.  Jane Russell's Dorothy Shaw is perfectly styled as Lorelei's equally-fashion-conscious but radically different BFF rocking slacks, sleeveless, strappy heels at the pool.

Which brings me to the characters themselves.  After 91 minutes watching Lorelei and Dorothy, I defy you not to call your best friend.  I don't think there's a better portrayal of friendship on film and it's refreshing to see two beautiful young women love and support each other without rivalry in 1953.  Believe it or not, it passes the Bechdel test.

And finally, there's this scene:

—Erin Lee Mock, Director of the Program in Film Studies