Blondes & Bond

Marilyn Monroe, Sean Connery and Roger Moore all star in revivals at 3Below
Two of Marilyn Monroe's most iconic films duel with a revival of two 007 films from 1983.

An ungodly amount of kitsch surrounds the suffering and decline of Marilyn Monroe, obscuring how much fun she was to watch. A double bill of 1953's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (July 31-Aug. 12) and How to Marry a Millionaire (July 31-Aug. 5) explains the appeal.

Marry isn't as magic—it's a reprise of a frequently filmed script with three Manhattan ladies (Lauren Bacall, a myopic Marilyn, and Betty Grable) trying their luck with various menfolk. But for some reason Monroe excelled in 1920s settings, as in Some Like it Hot.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is based on Anita Loos' superb comedic novel about Jazz Age siren and showgirl Lorelei Lee (Monroe) boating to Paris with her traveling companion Dorothy (Jane Russell, dark, shrewd and macha, where Marilyn is tentative, breathy and squeaky.)

Lorelei has a thing for gemstones. Though trying hard to be faithful to her rich, square boyfriend (Tommy Noonan) she's willing to tangle with a wealthy old shipmate, Sir Francis "Piggy" Beekman (Charles Coburn, rumbling away in Swahili as he demonstrates how the boa constrictors back in Africa would encircle and squeeze a native).

The effervescent composer Jule Styne gave MM two of her best numbers. Her duet with Russell on "Two Little Girls from Little Rock" is an outrageously bold opener of spangles, tinsel and girl power. "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" is the moment when Marilyn started to captivate the world. Producer and director Howard Hawks told biographer Joseph McBride that he hadn't been interested in production numbers. Thus this brief 91-minute musical has the sharpness and compact size of great cabaret, highlighting the bright screwball comedy and the hot pink and fire-orange color scheme.

Some gentlemen prefer Bonds. On Aug 7-11, 3Below hosts the non-canonical remake of Thunderball (1965)—Never Say Never Again (1983)—has Sean Connery reprising the role of James Bond for the first time in a decade. Octopussy (also 1983) is an embarrassment for those who like 007 to be brutal (clown makeup, really?). However, it has a great deal of sweep, and a thrilling pre-title sequence with a Bede BD-5 jetting through a hangar at 150 mph. Co-scriptwriter George MacDonald Fraser brought in inventive deathtraps to throw at the unflappable Roger Moore, including a deadly blue ringed octopus and a giant razor yo-yo.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
How To Marry a Millionaire
Never Say Never Again
3Below Theatres & Lounge, San Jose

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