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A Gentleman Prefers Friends

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) isn't my favorite Howard Hawks film, musical, Marilyn Monroe picture, or use of Technicolor, but watching it again in a frighteningly flawless new restored print for a run opening this Friday New York's Film Forum, I happily realized there was something I really loved about this movie that so-often left me cold: a truly swimming picture of friendship.  With constant reminders that the buddy cop genre in the 1980s and the conversational, sitcom-style sidekick of 90s romantic comedies have mostly blandly evolved friendship into a "bro"-like and/or snarky camaraderie in the 2000s, one seems hard pressed these days for shining examples of pure cinematic friendship, different personalities, characters, ideologies, beauties in a teetering equilibrium of assistance, support, and true affection, as Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe are in this picture. Suddenly it made so much sense to me that Jacques Rivette modeled the relationship between Dominique Labourier and Juliet Berto in the seminal friendship film (a good retrospective idea, perhaps?) Celine and Julie Go Boating on Hawks, and Blondes in particular.  Is there a lighter, more natural and unassuming picture of the adventures and hijinks of a pair of friends than Hawks'?  Each woman is on her own individual path, yet their fate lines are intimately intertwined; each is always warmly helped, like a beautiful gravity assist of friendship, by the comforting strength of a body to be drawn to, relied upon, be assured in and by.  As if further proof is needed, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes basically ends with Monroe and Jane Russell marrying each other, codifying one of cinema's best friendships!

Best friends forever! Top: Russell & Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Bottom: Labourier & Berto in Celine and Julie Go Boating.

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