How to Marry a Millionaire
Release year: 1953
Director: Jean Negulesco
Screenwriter: Nunnally Johnson, Zoë Akins (Play), Dale Eunson (Play), Katherine Albert (Play)
Starring: Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell, Alexander D’arcy, William Powell, Fred Clark
Ratings: 1 Oscar nomination: Best Costume Design
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #16, week 39 2014
Schatze (Lauren Bacall), Pola (Marilyn Monroe), and Loco (Betty Grable) are three models who want to find rich men to marry, so they spend all their money renting a luxury appartement to lure in eligible victims, selling the furniture when money runs out. Plenty of men are interested in the three gorgeous girls, only trouble is they need to be both rich and single, not to mention willing to marry.
The screenplay for How to Marry a Millionaire was based on the plays The Greek Had a Word for It by Zoë Akins and Loco by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert, and directed by Jean Negulesco who was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for his movie Johnny Belinda (1948). Though critical acclaim was mostly given to Betty Grable (Coney Island 1943) and Lauren Bacall (The Big Sleep 1946), the Blonde Bombshell Marilyn Monroe (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes 1953) was the box-office drawing card and the main reason many, especially the male audience, came to see the movie. It is without doubt that Monroe is mesmerizing whenever she is on screen, as she always were, and she manages to bring a certain innocence and vulnerability tot he character. At the same time the movie showcases some of her more humorous acting, as she plays a vain girl reluctant to wear the glasses she is nearly blind without. Though we follow both her and Grable in their quest for love, the main character and the main focus is the elegant and sensuous Bacall, who with her sultry looks and husky voice easily take the lead among the trio. Though Monroe’s Pola may be the funniest, the story of Bacall’s Schatze may bring the most pleasure. Her resourceful appearance make it much easier to acknowledge her as a heroine than the spunky Loco and ditzy Pola (even the names help), as well as the fact that Bacall oozes so much attitude and authority that she demands respect in a way the two other women can’t manage. The story may be simple, but the three ladies do a wonderful job, perhaps not giving their characters depth, but they sure manage to give them big beating hearts and some of the best looks available at that time. The sweetness they bring to the script added with the sweetness of the story, means the only thing you should fear by watching this is a sugar overdose.
While Betty Grable received top billing as the credits rolled, a contractual promise made to her by Twentieth Century-Fox, Marilyn Monroe as promoted to first place in the trailer and poster art.
This is Twentieth Century-Fox’s first CinemaScope feature; however it wasn’t released until after The Robe (1953), it is also one of the first movies to have its score recorded in stereo.
Lauren Bacall’s character, Schatze, says: “I’ve always liked older men… Look a that old fellow what’s-his-name in The African Queen (1951), Absolutely crazy about him.” She is referrring to Bacall’s real-life husband Humphrey Bogart.
Picture copyright: SF Films