Gentlemen Marry Brunettes

Gentlemen Marry Brunettes is a 1955 technicolor romantic musical comedy film produced by Russ-Field productions, starring Jane Russell and Jeanne Crain, and released by United Artists. It was directed by Richard Sale and produced by the director with Bob Waterfield (Russell's husband) and Robert Bassler as executive producer. The script was written by Mary Loos and Sale, based on the novel But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes by Anita Loos, aunt of Mary Loos.

Gentlemen Marry Brunettes
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Sale
Produced byRobert Waterfield
Richard Sale
Screenplay byMary Loos
Richard Sale
Based onBut Gentlemen Marry Brunettes
by Anita Loos
StarringJane Russell
Jeanne Crain
Rudy Vallee
Alan Young
Music byRobert Farnon
CinematographyDesmond Dickinson
Edited byGrant K. Smith
Production
company
Russ-Field Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • September 22, 1955 (1955-09-22) (Chicago, Illinois)
  • October 29, 1955 (1955-10-29) (New York City)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$1.5 million (US)[1]

Anita Loos was the author of the novel and play Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, which had been turned into a smash film with Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe two years before. The studio attempted to repeat the formula, with Russell returning but Jeanne Crain stepping in for a presumably otherwise engaged Monroe (both women played new characters). Alan Young (later the star of TV's Mr. Ed), Scott Brady (brother of Lawrence Tierney), and Rudy Vallee also appear. This film was not as well received as the earlier one.

The choreography was by Jack Cole, who had also contributed to the Gentlemen Prefer Blondes film. The dance ensemble includes the young Gwen Verdon.

Anita Loos had entitled her book But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes, but the studio dropped the first word from the title for the film.

Plot

Bonnie and Connie Jones, played by Jane Russel and Jeanne Crain, are two sisters that live in New York working on Broadway. They are known as the second generation of the Jones sisters, taking the name after their mother, Mitzi Jones, who also performed popularly with her sister, Mimi Jones.

Bonnie and Connie are often offered engagements by men. Connie refuses these New Yorkers every time, while her sister Bonnie seemingly cannot say no to all these men’s offerings. This initiates fights between the men outside the sisters’ shows, and these situations embarrass Connie for being related to Bonnie.

The sisters fight about Bonnie’s weakness to refuse these men. Connie wants her sister to promise her to refuse them for the sake of their career. However, the moment the sisters reconcile, a messenger knocks on their door with an offered Paris agreement by David Action to partake shows around France.

The sisters immediately agree, and promise each other to focus on the success of their career rather than focusing on desperate men looking for marriage. When they arrive in Paris, they are welcomed by Charlie Biddle and David Action, played by Alan Young and Scott Brady, who will later become the sisters’ love interests.

The men are surprised by the difference between the first generation and the second generation of the Jones sisters. They notice that Bonnie and Connie lack the lush living style of their mother and act more sophisticated. The sisters claim that they do not own a lot because of financial problems; it took them three months of savings to buy an average looking dress for their shows.

The girls open their luggage to get ready for a cocktail party; however, their only dress is a cheetah printed dress which to Rudy is not appropriate to wear in the afternoon for the press. They want to be able to show off the new Jones sisters properly, and therefore, they remodel the dresses to impress Paris just like the first generation of the Jones sisters. The cocktail party goes extremely well. Men are dancing and the girls have the attention of the whole room. Their popularity and names go all around Paris, which helps their career.

The next day, the Jones sisters want to tour the city of Paris and plead David and Charlie to show them around. They separate into two groups, Connie leaving with Charlie and Bonnie leaving with David. These quickly turn into dates in the city of Paris, as both couples share kisses and reveal their attraction towards one another. However, Bonnie’s relationship with David complicates because David fears to give himself away to another person. He would rather stay a bachelor, which is what he calls himself.

But as love is growing between the two groups, so are the sisters’ career. Parisian casinos desire to have them perform for their nighttime show. But the girls refuse most of them as the casino provides them with vulgar and lacking attire. For their own dignity, Bonnie and Connie refuse to show their bodies off for the enjoyment of others. Although most of the casinos refuse to give them proper attire, the girls find their way around this and hide their bodies from the audience using a hat with long feathers the casino provided them with. They not only performed and received their well-earned money, but received more attention in France, allowing them to perform in Monte Carlo the next evening.

The girls perform beautifully at their next and unexpectedly last show of the movie. Their mother, Mitzi, is unhappy with the circumstances her daughter are in, and she forces them to come home to New York with her. After her show days, Bonnie and Connie have claimed that their mother has raised them strictly. She especially does not want her daughters to display themselves vulgarly, which is why she forcefully brings them back home.

Grabbing them by the ears, she puts them in a taxi car leaving the Monte Carlo Casino. After seeing the love of their lives leave, David and Charlie know that they cannot bear living the rest of their lives without the sisters and they decide to chase after them. The movie ends with Charlie and David running to the boat taking off for New York looking for the Jones sisters. The moment they meet again, Charlie proposes to Connie, and David pleads to be forgiven by Bonnie for refusing her in the beginning of their relationship. Bonnie, of course, forgives David who then takes action and proposes to her. The movie ends with two newly and happily engaged couples taking off on a boat to New York.

Reception

After its release in November, the movie did not perform as well as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Movie critiques claim that casting Jeanne Crain and Jane Russel gave the audience hope that the movie would not be a complete bore, however, the movie itself is filled with "dull and listless dialogue" (Los Angeles Times). The critique does positively review the costumes of the movie and Jeanne Crain's acting, claiming that "she had been hiding her light" from the world[2].

Cast

Musical numbers

The Musical Supervision is credited to “M.S.I.” Herbert Spencer and Earle Hagen.

Incidental Music Composed and Conducted by Robert Farnon.

  • “Gentlemen Marry Brunettes” (music by Herbert Spencer and Earle Hagen, lyrics by Richard Sale) - Sung by Chorus.
(note: screen credit gives “Sung by Johnny Desmond”, but the song is only heard in a male choral arrangement)

See also

References

  1. 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
  2. Griffith, Richard (November 8, 1995). "Brunettes' Regarded As Almost a Bore". Los Angeles Times.
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