How To Marry A Mil­lion­aire

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - YOUR TV WEEK -

(1953) U

Mon­day, 1.20pm, Ch4

A trio of beau­ti­ful, well-groomed women – Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe, Lauren Ba­call and Betty Grable (pic­tured) – move into a swanky New York apart­ment with the ex­press in­ten­tion of land­ing wealthy hus­bands. This ro­man­tic com­edy earns its weight in gold thanks to the in­fec­tious charm of its three lead­ing ladies.

Mon­roe is at her sashay­ing, ditzy best as blind-as-a-bat Pola De­bevoise; Ba­call is droll cynic Schatze Page, a di­vor­cée who seems re­signed to her fate, all too aware, per­haps, of the lim­ited choices for a woman in the 1950s; and Grable is plucky Loco Dempsey, who ap­pears to have fewer scruples, but is down to earth and dreams about hot dogs, not di­a­monds.

Some will be un­easy with the film’s premise. Por­tray­ing women as ma­nip­u­la­tive gold-dig­gers whose only goal is mar­riage is pretty un­flat­ter­ing. This is no satire: it was in­tended as mon­ey­mak­ing en­ter­tain­ment, pure and sim­ple.

Taken at face value, then, How To Marry A Mil­lion­aire is to mod­ern au­di­ences, and to mod­ern women, the very def­i­ni­tion of a guilty plea­sure. The three stars are on full beam, out­shin­ing – to a pos­i­tively blind­ing de­gree – all of the male cast mem­bers, none of whom has re­tained much cul­tural ca­chet to­day. (Just see if you can name any of them…)

Each of the fe­male stars proved some­thing with the film. Mon­roe be­came Hol­ly­wood’s hottest prop­erty, Ba­call demon­strated a hith­erto untested gift for com­edy, while Grable, whose star was wan­ing af­ter years on top, went out on a spec­tac­u­lar high (she re­tired in 1955).

The story be­hind

the film

20th Cen­tury Fox used How To Marry A Mil­lion­aire as a show­case for its new widescreen Cin­e­maS­cope process. It was only the sec­ond film to be re­leased in the for­mat, to great fan­fare – the first was bib­li­cal epic The Robe, also in 1953.

Cin­e­maS­cope was an ef­fort to win back au­di­ences from tele­vi­sion. Iron­i­cally, from 1957 to 1959, How To Marry A Mil­lion­aire was also a hit TV sit­com, star­ring Lori Nel­son, Bar­bara Eden and Merry An­ders (above). Si­mone An­drews

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