My chapter on Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell ‘A Travesty on Sex’: Gender and Performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ appeared last year in an edited collection called Howard Hawks: New Perspectives. I recently discovered that this book has been shortlisted in the top three for this year’s Kraszna-Krausz Book Award in the category of Best Moving Image Book.
The Kraszna-Krausz award celebrates excellence in photography and moving image publishing, with prize for the Best Photography Book Award and the Best Moving Image Book published each year. The shortlist was announced last week and the winner will be announced on Thursday, at this year’s Photo London, exhibition at Somerset House where there is a display of material from the shortlisted and winning books this week.
It was my long standing interest in pin-up brought me to the project, and naturally it is through the lens of Monroe and Russell’s pin-up personas that I investigate their roles and performances, the film and it’s marketing and Hawks’ work with both actresses on earlier projects The Outlaw and Monkey Business.
The chapter examines the role that Russell and Monroe’s pin-up personae and their very distinctly caricatured, unruly and ‘awarish’ performances of femininity played into the satirical message of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
The book is published in conjunction with the British Film Institute, and is illustrated with material from their archive. It’s the first new book on Hawks since Robin Wood’s BFI study published in 1981 and provides a fresh reappraisal of all of Hawks’ films such as ‘The Big Sleep’, ‘His Girl Friday’ and in my case ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ (a subject tackled in the previous book by Laura Mulvey – so no pressure there). Leading international scholars consider Hawks’ work in relation to issues of gender, genre and relationships between the sexes, and address Hawks’ visual style and the importance of musicality in his filmmaking. High points for those who share my interests will include Mark Jancovich and Robert Manning’s “‘A Poisonous Picture’: The Big Sleep, the Hollywood Left and the Postwar Thriller” and Jeffrey Hinkelman’s ‘Adapting to Women: Hawks, Comedy and Gender’. You can see the contents and read the introduction of the book here (or click on the cover below).
Howard Hawks: New Perspectives (ed. Ian Brookes)
featuring my chapter on Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell:
‘A Travesty on Sex’: Gender and Performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’