By By, Baby

Jane Russell died yesterday and it hit surprisingly deep.  I say surprising since I’ve never seen most of the big Jane Russell pictures, including The Outlaw. But I’ve owned Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for as long as I’ve collected film, and I watch it once a year. Something about this movie keeps me rapt besides the fashion, the bodies, and Marilyn’s signature number, which pops like a cosmic champagne cork even for someone who’s generally indifferent both to Marilyn and musicals. I’m pretty sure it comes down to Jane — to Dorothy Shaw, the fearless, sex-positive, I-am-who-I-am foil to Lorelei Lee’s grasping material girl. To Dorothy who only wants a true relationship and prefers that riches not factor into the equation. If Gentlemen Prefer Blondes mines Lorelei’s gold-digger stereotype and its essentialist bits about men and women for humour, Dorothy’s sensible-girl stereotype mitigates it all.  She wants men: she wants men’s bodies, she wants men’s bodies for sex, and she wants to let everyone around her know she wants men’s bodies for sex, until she finds a good heart and a great wit in one of those fine male bodies. And the movie never shames her for it.  It privileges not only her judgment but her desires and proves that sense and sensuality aren’t mutually exclusive in a woman. Moreover, it shows the value of sticking with your best girl, even if your best girl fucks up or — worse, in my mind — reinforces negative female stereotypes we’d all be better off without. This is life for the Dorothy Shaws of the world, and because it’s life even in 2011, sometimes, Jane’s Dorothy is eternal and unimaginable with any other actor in the role. — Ranylt Richildis

Posted in RIP

2 thoughts on “By By, Baby

  1. Okay. So, in seeking info on your name, I came across this remarkable post.

    I, bizarrely enough, was watching (for the first time) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes just as she was dying, and I was somewhat underwhelmed.

    This post has made me appreciate the movie far, FAR more.

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