Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jane Russell Would've Enjoyed Burlesque!

In my review of Burlesque a month or so back I referenced Howard Hawks' classic 1953 musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in my defense that just because a movie is camp doesn't mean it's instantly bad. I questioned what audiences would make of that film, which starred Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, who passed away today at age 89, in 2011. I mean, there were some people who reacted so negatively to the camp nature of Burlesque that I can't even fathom how they'd react to Blondes, what with it's musical number titled "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love" wherein Russell parades herself around surrounded by near naked men performing gymnastic routines. The closest Burlesque came to anything like that is when Cam Gigandet strips down to a box of Famous Amos cookies.

I do love Gentlemen Prefer Blondes - I even feature it alongside Burlesque in the blog's banner up the top there - and, as far as pure filmmaking skill goes, I don't think anybody, not even I, could say Steve Antin, director of Glass House: The Good Mother, can come close to the masterful Howard Hawks. And yet I do find it curious how many won't bat an eye at a scene like "Ain't Anyone Here for Love", or anything else in Blondes that is excessively girly. People like to pick and choose, I suppose, with the passing of time.

It was sad to learn of Russell's passing, but hardly surprising being she was 89 years old at the time. Of course, apart from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Russell was probably best known as Howard Hughes' cause célèbre with his risque marketing of The Outlaw that placed Russell - and her cleavage - at front and centre. The story was humourously mentioned in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator if you remember that. What I didn't know, but have since discovered, is that she was a fierce advocate of adoption, having adopted three children of her own in the 1950s. That was nice to learn. RIP, Jane Russell.

1 comment:

Atlanta Roofing said...

Those women of the 1940s were the most natural beauties we've seen. No longer do we see these wonderful, larger than life, women. Nowadays, it's the surgeons knife, a bit added, a bit taken, and they all look the same - plain, until they get old, then they look like ventriloquist's dummies - only the mouth can still move. If this is evolution, we should abandon it. RIP Jane.