Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell

While it is true that Hawks’s camera often objectifies Monroe and Russell’s bodies, there is power in their characters’ frank sexuality. These women are very much in control of their bodies and obviously take care in how they present themselves. (The scene where they stride through the ship’s dining room, happily aware that all eyes are on them, comes to mind.) Dorothy and Lorelei are also unafraid to hide their lust, sexual or materialistic. It isn’t a secret that Dorothy loves men, just like it isn’t difficult to tell that Lorelei likes the finer things in life. One of the film’s best moments is when she outright admits to Gus’s father that she wants Gus for his fortune. It isn’t malicious — it’s survival.

At a casual glance, these two showgirls couldn’t be more different. Dorothy, a brunette, is the sardonic, practical one who enjoys chasing good-looking men. Lorelei, meanwhile, is a naive, supposedly dumb blonde who enjoys chasing good-looking diamonds. However, as the film goes on, we see that both women possess an intelligence that goes largely overlooked by the other characters. Fiercely loyal to one another, it becomes clear that Lorelei and Dorothy are the only ones who truly appreciate and understand each other. Dorothy knows that her best friend isn’t stupid, just like Lorelei knows Dorothy isn’t the hard-bitten cynic she pretends to be.

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