Film Flick: How to Marry a Millionaire

Friday, August 16, 2013

Three girls making it their mission to marry a millionaire? The classic rom-com, How to Marry a Millionaire may be continually forgotten or overlooked by many in modern day audiences because of its- to a world that has experienced the feminist movement- distasteful premise. But try to look past that, and buried in the celluloid is something worth seeing. Because those three "girls" are played by three of Hollywood's powerhouses- Lauren Becall, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe.

The film starts in the sumptuously decorated Manhattan flat that has just been leased by model Schatze Page (Lauren Becall). Of course, she doesn't really have the dough to pay for it, but since the owner is being hunted down by IRS, no one is looking too closely. To help make ends meet, she invites two other models as roommates and fellow cohorts in a crazy plan she's masterminded. The goal is to marry a millionaire- whom they are much more likely to meet while living in such a ritzy place.  And meet millionaires they do. The question is, do they really want to marry them after all?

The film was based on the play The Greeks Have a Word for It. Becall put the bug in producer Darryl Zanuck's ear; he turned it over to writer Nunally Johnson, and a few weeks later, Becall's phone rings. Zanuck and Johnson wanted Becall in for a screen test. Though she should have been well past screen tests after nearly ten years in Hollywood, she had never played comedy before. Knowing she needed to make a movie now or forget her career completely, Becall went in and got the starring part. Joining her was 37 year old Betty Grable for what would turn out to be one of her last pictures, and rising star Marilyn Monroe. Monroe, as was common in nearly all of her pictures, turned out to be difficult to work with, filled with insecurities and unprofessional habits, such as tardiness. Becall also later recounted in her memoir, that Monroe rarely looked actors she was playing against in the eye. Despite (or maybe because of) this, Monroe turns out one delightful gag after another as girl who doesn't like to wear her glasses. Joining them in more minor roles were several male actors, including William Powell, playing an older, but quite dapper Texas oil baron.

In addition to its star cast, the film had other things going for it too. It would be the first movie to be filmed in Cinemascope, a process many hoped would lure audiences back, away from the exploding popularity of television. Cinemascope required larger screens, and had more vibrant color. As a side effect of showing off the technical attributes of the process, most scenes were longer than in other movie scripts, often four or five pages each. Another way filmmakers took advantage of the new format, was to show amazing, colorful costumes, including a literal fashion runway show!

With its trite plot, How to Marry a Millionaire may not be worth a million viewings, but the fantastic acting is good enough to make sure care about the actors despite the plot. That has got to be worth at least one.


  1. I have a metal cylindrical box to save drinking straws with a printed image of this movie on it! :)

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    1. Oh really? What a fun and unique sounding item!

  2. Think I'll have to watch this soon!

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  3. This movie is the first I ever saw with Marilyn in it and I absolutely loved it. Such a classic!

    Xo, Hannah

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  4. this looks like a good movie, so cool that it was the first to be filmed in cinemascope!

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  5. This is actually one of my fav's!! I've seen it a gazillion times and think it is cute and funny every time!

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