How To Marry a Millionaire (1953): Comedy Starring Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable

A remake of 1933’s “The Greeks Had a Word for Them,” Fox’s hugely popular How to Marry a Millionaire was the first Hollywood comedy to be shot in Cinemascope.

Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe play three models of modest means who rent an expensive Manhattan penthouse and pose as women of wealth.

It’s a scheme hatched by Schatze Page (Bacall), the shrewdest of the trio, to snare rich husbands for herself and her roommates.

Sporting glasses, Monroe plays the near-sighted Pola, who is wooed by an international playboy, but ends up settling for the tax-dodging fugitive (David Wayne), who owns the girls’ apartment.

The knuckle-headed Grable goes off on an illicit weekend in the mountains with a grouchy married executive (Fred Clark), but falls instead for a poor but handsome forest ranger (Rory Calhoun).

Bacall nearly gets an aging millionaire (William Powell), but her conscience bothers her and instead she goes for the poverty-stricken chap (Cameron Mitchell) who has been pursuing her all along. Not to worry: It turns out that he is one of the richest men in New York.

Before the opening credits in “How to Marry a Millionaire,” there was a “live” orchestral rendition of Alfred Newman’s “Street Scene” overture, conducted by Newman.

By standards of the 1950s, this romantic comedy was very popular—the fifth top-grossing picture of the year—catapulting the fast-rising Monroe to major stardom.

“How to Marry a Millionaire” was also the first presentation of the NBC series Saturday Night at the Movies, premiering on TV on September 23, 1961.

 

Credits

Running time: 96 Minutes.

Directed by Jean Negulesco

Screenplay: Nunnally Johnson, Zoë Akins

Released: November 11, 1953

DVD: May 29, 2001

 

Cast

Betty Grable as Loco Dempsey

Marilyn Monroe as Pola Debevoise

Lauren Bacall as Schatze Page

David Wayne as Freddie Denmark

Rory Calhoun as Eben

Cameron Mitchell as Tom Brookman

 

Oscar Nominations: 1

Costume Design (color): Charles LeMaire and Travilla

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was LeMaire, but for another picture, “The Robe,” on which he collaborated with Emile Santiago.