Cast & Crew
The Jones sisters, Connie and Bonnie, are forced to leave their singing jobs at yet another nightclub because of brawl resulting from Bonnie's habit of accepting the marriage proposal of any beau who asks her. After the sensible Connie urges her starry-eyed sister to be more practical, the girls receive a telegram from American agent David Action, who tells them that he has booked them at the prestigious Casino de Paris in Paris. The sisters leave for Europe, while in Paris, unknown to the girls, the impoverished David and his pal, would-be entertainer Charles Biddle, prepare for their arrival. David, who has written to many acts soliciting their business, knows nothing about the Jones sisters and so questions his friend, Rudy Vallee, an ex-patriate American singer who knows everyone in show business. At first Rudy thinks that David means the original Jones sisters, Mimi and Mitzi, who were Bonnie and Connie's mother and aunt. Rudy, who remains a well-known playboy despite being middle-aged, reminisces about the blonde Mimi and Mitzi's success in Paris in 1926. Hoping that the younger sisters will be as glamorous and flirtatious as their predecessors, Rudy joins David and Charlie in meeting the girls. The men are disappointed when the quietly dressed, brunette sisters disembark, and tell the women that they must "glamorize" themselves before attending the press conference David has arranged. Connie and Bonnie protest, and so Rudy tells them about Mimi and Mitzi's triumphant presentation to the Paris press, during which he and the womanizing Earl of Wickenware became enamored of them, as did dozens of other wealthy men. Although Mimi and Mitzi were marginally talented, their beauty and outrageous behavior made them the toast of Paris. Impressed, Connie and Bonnie allow themselves to be shepherded to their hotel, where Rudy, Charlie and David primp and costume them before presenting them to the press. The next morning, the Jones sisters are featured on the front page of every newspaper, and David celebrates by taking them sightseeing. Connie is annoyed at being paired off with the self-deprecating Charlie, but as they spend the day together, she realizes how kind he is and responds to his declaration of love. Meanwhile, Bonnie, who was attracted to David immediately, is irritated by his many female friends, as well as his insistence that he is a professional bachelor. Bonnie's charms win David over, however, and David is about to propose when he is interrupted by Connie and Charlie. Quietly warning David that Bonnie has more than seventy fiancés, Connie instructs him not to mix business with pleasure. David then dismisses a puzzled Bonnie, and that night, Bonnie prepares to return home. When Bonnie declares that she loves David, Connie apologizes for interfering and persuades her to give David another chance. The following morning, Connie and Bonnie are in their dressing room at the Casino de Paris, preparing for their audition. They are plagued with stage fright, however, and Rudy tells them about Mitzi and Mimi's opening night at the same club: Although the sisters are nervous, and their screechy singing irritates Rudy, who performs with them, their je ne sais quois captivates the audience, which rewards them with thunderous applause. Connie and Bonnie then sing for the owner, who is delighted that the girls have better voices than their predecessors. He hires the girls, but when he asks them to wear Mitzi and Mimi's most famous costumes, which consist only of a strand of diamonds, ornamented with a butterfly, they reject the proposition and leave. As David presents them at a series of clubs, the girls are repeatedly asked to wear the skimpiest of costumes. Finally, at Monsieur Dufond's, Bonnie surprises everyone by agreeing to perform wearing only a blue feather fan. On opening night, David bitterly asserts that Bonnie is toying with him because she knows that he is in love with her, and tells Dufond that the girls will not go through with their performance. Dufond unnerves him by stating that the sisters are already undressing, and soon the show begins. Covered by the fans and strategically placed screens, the sisters wow the crowd with their singing, but elicit booing when they reveal that, instead of being nude, they are wearing sleeveless tops and shorts. Backstage, David yells at the girls that they have been fired. After David storms off, the angry girls dine with Rudy and Wickenware. The next morning, Connie and Bonnie are awakened by the hotel manager, who lavishes upon them the many gifts sent to them by an anonymous admirer. Atlhough they covet the gowns, jewels, furs, poodles and other luxuries, the girls hesitate to accept them. Deciding that it will not count if they return the gifts after enjoying them for one day, Connie and Bonnie dress in their new finery and astonish all who see them. News of the Jones sisters' "admirer" spreads throughout the city, and gossip about his identity reaches a feverish peak. Assuming that the girls have become the mistresses of a rich, older man, David is consumed with jealousy. Meanwhile, the sisters fear that their benefactor will feel he has a rightful claim to their affections. Unknown to David or the girls, Charlie is actually a millionaire who made an arrangement with his blue-blooded parents allowing him to pursue a show business career if he did not spend any of his money on himself. Hoping to keep Connie and Bonnie safe from "the wolves," Charlie secretly sent them the gifts, or "loot," as they refer to it. Charlie also surreptitiously arranges for the sisters to appear at a Monte Carlo casino, and David believes that it is through his agenting that the girls landed the job. In Monte Carlo, the male lead of the show drops out, and Charlie wins an honest chance at his break at show business. He and the Jones sisters are a hit, much to the surprise of the stage manager, who reveals to David that their appearance was pre-arranged. An infuriated David reproaches the girls when they arrive backstage, and to stop the quarreling, Rudy tells them how Mitzi and Mimi left Europe due to a bitter argument over which one of them would marry him. Before Charlie can confess his scheme, an indignant Mimi arrives and orders her daughters to return home. The men pursue the women, and when Charlie hires an airplane to follow them, he reveals to David, Rudy and Wickenware that he is a millionaire. David and his friends find the women on board an ocean liner, and while David reconciles with Bonnie, and Charlie reunites with Connie, Rudy and Wickenware eagerly follow Mimi.
Charles Ray Hall
J. J. Y. Scarlett
E. M. Smedley-aston
Thomas "fats" Waller
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes
Russell's contract with eccentric tycoon Howard Hughes and RKO Studios was due to end in 1954, and she wasn't sure if they'd be asking her to stay around. RKO wasn't doing that well, and speculation was that Hughes was about to get out of the picture business. So she got together with her husband, former football star Robert Waterfield, her agents at MCA and attorney Sam Zagon to form her own production company, Russ-Field. She wasn't blazing any trails. Several other stars were doing the same thing in the '50s. But she did succeed in creating a hedge for herself against RKO's fading fortunes. As it turned out, Hughes offered her a contract she couldn't afford to turn down -- $1 million for five films, with payments made over the next 20 years. And the terms were so loose that she could still work for other production companies, including her own.
Zagon sold Russ-Field's services to United Artists, which agreed to six pictures if the first was Gentlemen Marry Brunettes. Although based on a story by Anita Loos, who'd written the original Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the only thing it retained was the title and the Loos name, in the person of Anita's niece Mary, who had written the script for Russell's latest film, The French Line (1954). That should have been a warning to Russell -- The French Line would be the worst film she ever made if she hadn't followed it with Underwater! (1955). Russell didn't care for the story of a sister act who flee the U.S. for Paris to escape their ardent suitors. Even the chance to play a double role during flashbacks depicting how her mother and aunt had taken Europe by storm didn't sell her. She finally gave in to the studio's assurances that it was a sure thing. The large budget concerned her, too, as did plans to shoot entirely in Europe.
Many of her concerns turned out to be well-founded. Although she traveled with a friend, she was desperately homesick. She had left her children at home to spare them the prying eyes of the British tabloid press, but the move backfired when her son developed a stutter in her absence (it vanished when she finally came home). Her husband visited for a few months, but then went home to spend Christmas with the children. He also embarked on an affair that would lead to a decade of marital problems. On top of that, Russell was horrified at the mounting expenses. When she saw how quickly her expense allowance was depleted, she told the chef hired to cook for her during studio shooting in London that she was on a diet. As a result, her weight fluctuates throughout the film.
On the plus side, shooting was going well. Russell's leading man, Scott Brady, had been a friend since they co-starred in Montana Belle in 1952. Twenties heartthrob Rudy Vallee was on hand to play himself as Russell's modern-day protector and one of her mother's suitors. The costumes were top of the line, designed by couturier Christian Dior and Hollywood veteran Travilla. And Jack Cole, who had choreographed and directed the musical numbers in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, returned to create some unique routines, highlighted by a lavish interpretation of "Ain't Misbehavin'."
Best of all, however, was Jeanne Crain's surprising performance as Russell's sister. Having just finished her contract with 20th Century-Fox, Crain had fought for the role, hoping it would help her shake the squeaky clean image fostered by the studio. Shake it she did, as she dropped wisecracks and shimmied her way through the provocative dance numbers. Her singing was dubbed by Anita Ellis, best known for supplying the steamy vocals for Rita Hayworth's rendition of "Put the Blame on Mame" in Gilda (1946). Crain reveled in the chance to break free and also enjoyed the fans' attention during location shooting. "There's nothing bigger than a Hollywood star in Europe," she said. "One day of being followed through the city by screaming fans is enough to cure any star of an inferiority complex."
Crain got the film's best reviews, with the New York Herald Tribune's critic commenting, "[She] has been hiding her light under a pinafore far too long. She turns out to be a fine song and dance girl from head to toe." Unfortunately, Russell's fears about the film's extravagant budget proved correct. It was too expensive to turn a profit.
Producer: Richard Sale, Robert Waterfield
Director: Richard Sale
Screenplay: Richard Sale, Mary Loos
Based on the Story "But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes" by Anita Loos
Cinematography: Desmond Dickinson
Music: Robert Farnon
Principal Cast: Jane Russell (Bonnie/Mimi Jones), Jeanne Crain (Connie/Mitzi Jones), Alan Young (Charlie Biddle/Mrs. Biddle/Mr. Biddle, Sr.), Scott Brady (David Acton), Rudy Vallee (Himself), Guy Middleton (Earl of Wickenware).
by Frank Miller
Gentlemen Marry Brunettes
Dreams?! I'm having nightmares in Cinemascope!- Connie Jones
The opening title cards of the film read: "Russ-Field Corporation presents A Voyager Production Jane Russell, Jeanne Crain, Alan Young, Scott Brady, Rudy Vallee in Anita Loos's Gentlemen Marry Brunettes." Loos's novella, But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes which was serialized in Harper's Bazaar in 1928, was a sequel to her popular novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Both books featured the characters of "Lorelei Lee" and "Dorothy Shaw," beautiful showgirls who toyed with the affections of wealthy men. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes served as the basis of a film produced by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1953. The earlier film, directed by Howard Hawks, starred Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (see below). According to studio records, Fox considered protesting the production of Gentlemen Marry Brunettes because they felt that it would infringe upon their rights to make a sequel to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In order to avoid any complications, screenwriters Richard Sale and Mary Loos (who was the niece of author Anita Loos) changed the names of the characters and much of the plot, retaining only the title and the idea of two American singers going to Paris.
According to a March 16, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item, Sale was to direct Gentlemen Marry Brunettes for producer Alexander Korda, with Dennis Day set to star. No other contemporary information about Korda's involvement has been found, however. In April 1953, New York Times reported that Sale would be producing the film as an independent venture in Europe "under the banner of Film Locations, Ltd., a British company in which Montague Marks and Mike Frankovich are associated." The article also stated that David Wayne would be one of the male co-stars, and that the picture would be shot on location in Paris, Naples, Rome, Verona, Pisa and London. On June 2, 1953, Hollywood Reporter noted that Frankovich was arriving in Hollywood to finalize the deal with Sale, and that the female leads would be played by Jeanne Crain and Debbie Reynolds.
By May 1954, Hollywood Reporter was reporting that Sale would be producing the picture with Robert Bassler. The picture marked the first production of Russ-Field Corp., which was owned by then-husband and wife Jane Russell and Robert Waterfield, and Voyager Films, Inc., which was the company of Sale and Mary Loos, who were also married. According to an November 18, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, distributing company United Artists supplied 100% of the financing for the picture. Although Russ-Field did produce other films, Gentlemen Marry Brunettes was Voyager's only picture.
Although a July 29, 1954 item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column announced that Keith Andes auditioned for a male lead, he does not appear in the finished film. As noted by numerous contemporary sources, the picture was shot on location in Paris and Monte Carlo, with interior sequences shot at the Shepperton Studios and M-G-M British Studios in England and the Paris Studio Cinema in France. At the end of the film, as the ocean liner carrying the reunited couples sails away, a title card reading "This is where you came in" appears. This is followed by acknowledgments for Shepperton Studios, M-G-M British Studios, and the Paris Studio Cinema.
According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the film's MPAA certificate number was issued on the "understanding" that "the dance sequence by Miss [Gwen] Verdon, which takes place in the girl's [sic] hotel room, is to be eliminated in its entirety." No reason for the elimination of the number was listed, although a September 23, 1955 entry in the Hollywood Reporter column "Rambling Reporter" speculated that the "real reason Gwen Verdon's Gentlemen Marry Brunettes dances were scissored: she wore a rose in the wrong place." In a June 6, 1955 Daily Variety article, Sale stated that the dance was cut because Verdon "wears a garter high on her thigh, and they didn't like that." Verdon was not seen in the viewed print. In the sequence in which the Casino de Paris owner attempts to persuade "Connie" and "Bonnie" to wear costumes consisting only of diamond necklaces, "Bonnie" protests, "No, thanks! The Breen Office'll never pass it!"
The PCA file also reveals that the songs "Clap Yo' Hands" and "Do-Do-Do" by Ira and George Gershwin; "Where Is that Rainbow" by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rodgers; and "My Time Is Your Time" by Eric Little and Leo Dance were considered for inclusion in the film. According to modern sources, Jeanne Crain's singing voice was dubbed by Anita Ellis, and Scott Brady was dubbed by music composer Robert Farnon. In two 1960 Los Angeles Times articles, dancer-actress Juliet Prowse (1936-1996) stated that she had appeared in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes as a dancer, but she was not discernable in the viewed print. The picture marked the feature film debut of the then teenaged Prowse, who was living in Europe at the time of its production, but her first major role was in the 1960 Twentieth Century-Fox picture Can-Can.
Released in United States Fall October 1955
Follow-up to "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953).
Released in United States Fall October 1955