How to Marry a Millionaire
|How to Marry a Millionaire|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jean Negulesco|
|Produced by||Nunnally Johnson|
|Screenplay by||Nunnally Johnson|
|Based on||The Greeks Had a Word for It
by Zoë Akins
by Dale Eunson
|Music by||Cyril J. Mockridge, composer
Alfred Newman, direction
|Editing by||Louis R. Loeffler|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||95 minutes|
How to Marry a Millionaire is a 1953 American romantic comedy directed by Jean Negulesco and produced and written by Nunnally Johnson. The film stars Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall, as three gold diggers along with William Powell, David Wayne and Rory Calhoun, and Cameron Mitchell. The screenplay was based on the plays The Greeks Had a Word for It by Zoë Akins and Loco by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert.
Distributed by 20th Century Fox, How to Marry a Millionaire was filmed in Technicolor and was the first film ever to be photographed in the new CinemaScope wide-screen process. It was the second Cinemascope film released by Fox after the biblical epic film The Robe.
How to Marry a Millionaire was also the first 1950s color and CinemaScope film ever to be shown on prime time network television (though panned-and-scanned), when it was presented as the first film on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies on September 23, 1961.
Resourceful Schatze Page (Lauren Bacall), spunky Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable), and ditzy Pola Debevoise (Marilyn Monroe) rent a luxurious Sutton Place penthouse in New York City from Freddie Denmark (David Wayne), who is avoiding the IRS by living in Europe. The women plan to use it to attract and marry millionaires: Rockefeller or Vanderbilt. Pola queries whether a Mr Texaco or Mr Cadillac exists. When money is tight, Schatze pawns some of Freddie's furniture, without his knowledge of course; as winter approaches, the furnishings gradually vanish.
One day, Loco carries in some groceries, assisted by Tom Brookman (Cameron Mitchell). Tom is very interested in Schatze, but she knows from prior marital experience what he is — a "gas pump jockey" — and tries repeatedly to brush him off, without success. She has her sights on bigger game: the charming, classy widower J.D. Hanley (William Powell) whose worth is irreproachably large. All the while she's stalking the older J.D., Tom keeps after her. After every one of their dates, she tells him she never wants to see him again. She refuses to marry a poor man again.
Meanwhile, Loco (Grable) becomes acquainted with a grumpy businessman (Fred Clark). He is married, but she agrees to go with him to his "lodge" in Maine, mistakenly thinking she's going to meet a bunch of Elks Club members. (When they arrive, Grable misidentifies a big-band orchestra playing on the radio as that of Harry James - her actual husband at the time.) When she learns the truth about the lodge, she wants nothing to do with his plans. Unfortunately, she comes down with the measles and has to stay in the lodge until cured. She is nursed back to health with the help of a strapping young man named Eben (Rory Calhoun), who she thinks owns most of the surrounding land. She has no trouble transferring her affections to the handsome outdoorsman and they become engaged. When she finds out that he's just a forest ranger, guarding against fires on "his" land, she is very disappointed, but she loves him and is willing to overlook his financial shortcomings.
The third member of the group, Pola (Monroe), is extremely nearsighted, but hates to wear her glasses where any man might see her. As she puts it, "Men aren't attentive to girls who wear glasses." (a takeoff of Dorothy Parker's "Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.") She falls for a phony Arab oil tycoon, not knowing he's really a crooked speculator. Luckily, when she takes a plane from La Guardia airport to meet him, she misreads Kansas City for Atlantic City on an airport sign and ends up on the wrong plane. She sits next to a man, also wearing glasses, who thinks she's "quite a strudel" and encourages her to put hers on. It turns out that he is the mysterious Freddie Denmark; he is on his way to Kansas City to find the crooked accountant who got him into trouble with the IRS. He doesn't have much luck when he tracks the man down (he gets beaten up), but has much more success with Pola.
Loco, and Pola are reunited with Schatze just before her wedding. She finally managed to overcome J.D.'s qualms about their age difference. (Earlier in the film, Bacall makes a reference to "that old guy in The African Queen" - her real-life husband, Humphrey Bogart - as an example of overcoming age differences.) Tom shows up and is recognized by the groom. It turns out that Tom is by far the richer of the two men. J.D. has an inkling how things are going to turn out, so he is not too surprised when Schatze finds herself unable to go through with the wedding because she doesn't love him. J.D. leaves graciously and Schatze, against her better judgement, ends up marrying Tom.
Afterwards, the three happy couples end up at a greasy spoon, dining on hamburgers. Schatze jokingly asks Eben and Freddie about their financial prospects - which are slim. When she finally gets around to Tom, he casually admits a net worth around $200 million, and lists an array of holdings, which none of the others appear to take seriously. He then calls for the bill, pulling out an enormous wad of money and pays with a $1,000 note, telling the chef to keep the change. The three astonished women faint dead away onto the floor. Tom then proposes the men drink a toast to their unconscious wives.
- Betty Grable as Loco Dempsey
- Marilyn Monroe as Pola Debevoise
- Lauren Bacall as Schatze Page
- Anne Buydens as Laura Page
- David Wayne as Freddie Denmark
- Rory Calhoun as Eben
- Cameron Mitchell as Tom Brookman
- Alex D'Arcy as J. Stewart Merrill
- Fred Clark as Waldo Brewster
- William Powell as J.D. Hanley
Premiere and box office
How to Marry a Millionaire premiered at the Fox Wilshire Theatre (now the Saban Theatre), in Beverly Hills, California, on November 4, 1953. The film was a box office success earning $7.5 million domestically making it Fox's highest grossing film of 1953.
The film's cinematography was by Joseph MacDonald. The costume design was by Travilla.
Portrayal of New York
Between scenes the cinematography has some iconic views of New York City. Views include: Rockefeller Center; Central Park; the United Nations Building; and Brooklyn Bridge in the opening sequence. Other iconic views include the Empire State Building, the lights of Times Square at night and the George Washington Bridge.
The music score was written by Fox studio music chief Alfred Newman. The film features an actual overture after the fashion of a live theatrical extravaganza. The 20th Century Fox Orchestra is arrayed before the camera to perform "Street Scene," conducted by Newman. This serves to highlight CinemaScope's new four-track magnetic stereophonic sound system and widescreen visuals. The orchestra appears throughout in wide shots and there are no closeups of any of the players, nor of Newman. At the conclusion of "Street Scene," Newman turns to take a bow before launching into the "Main Title". The orchestra reappears briefly for the "End Title", also an arrangement of "Street Scene".
Newman originally composed "Street Scene" for the film version of Elmer Rice's play Street Scene (1931), a portrayal of New York (which explains its distinctly Gershwinesque flavor, a la Rhapsody in Blue), and used it in numerous subsequent New York-based films (The Dark Corner, Kiss of Death, Cry of the City, I Wake Up Screaming, How to Marry a Millionaire). Much of the rest of the score for How to Marry a Millionaire consists of similarly familiar, preexisting compositions, including several pieces composed by George Gershwin.
The music soundtrack from How to Marry a Millionaire was released on CD by Membran International in 2004. The film's arrangement of Newman's "Street Scene" was performed in 1973 by National Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Charles Gerhardt, for the album Captain from Castille - Classic Film Scores of Alfred Newman, accompanied by a booklet in which Page Cook chronicles the background of the piece.
In 1957, the film was adapted into a sitcom of the same name. The series stars Barbara Eden (as Loco Jones), Merry Anders (Michelle "Mike" Page), Lori Nelson (Greta Lindquist) and as Nelson's later replacement, Lisa Gaye as Gwen Kirby. How to Marry a Millionaire aired in syndication for a total of two seasons.
Writers Guild of America
- 1954: Best Written American Comedy, Nunnally Johnson
- 1955: Best Film (USA)
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p248
- Lev, Peter. Transforming the Screen, 1950-1959. University of California Press. p. 118. ISBN 0-520-24966-6.
- Churchwell, Sarah. The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe. Picador. p. 57. ISBN 0-312-42565-1.
- Gomery, Douglas; Pafort-Overduin, Clara (2011). Movie History: A Survey: Second Edition (2 ed.). Taylor & Francis. p. 246. ISBN 1-136-83525-3.
- Schwarz, Ted (2008). Marilyn Revealed: The Ambitious Life of an American Icon. Taylor Trade Publications. p. 390. ISBN 1-589-79342-0.
- Siegel, Tatiana. The Hollywood Reporter 2007-04-27
Twentieth-Century Fox started production on "The Robe" before it began production on "Millionaire," although production on the latter was completed first. The studio chose to present "The Robe" as its first CinemaScope production in late September or early October 1953 because it saw this film as being more family-friendly and attracting a larger audience to introduce its widescreen process. "The Robe," then, is the first of the CinemaScope films.
This information is provided by the Wikipedia "CinemaScope" article and also by Widescreen Museum and other sources.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to How to Marry a Millionaire (film).|
- How to Marry a Millionaire at the Internet Movie Database
- How to Marry a Millionaire at AllMovie
- How to Marry a Millionaire at the TCM Movie Database
- How to Marry a Millionaire at the American Film Institute Catalog
- How to Marry a Millionaire at Rotten Tomatoes
- Listing of CD and LP releases of music from the film, including "Street Scene"