At fourteen, rather upset that Ed McMahon had not yet driven up to my door with that million dollars he so clearly stated I would be winning, I headed to the library to find an instructional video. Even then, I knew the old stuff was always more dependable than the new. How to Marry a Millionaire is probably one of my top five favorite films. It’s the movie I watch when i’m sick, when i’ve thrown away another perfectly good relationship, and any other old time when I feel icky. It’s hopeful, endearing and lighthearted.
Originally meant to be the comedic vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, Twentieth Century Fox brought out it’s two biggest stars, Grable and Bacall to star its first Cinemascope wide screen film- How to Marry a Millionaire. I was drawn to it immediately because of Lauren Bacall. Lauren is what every woman should be. She’ll stride into the room with her smoldering eyes in an I-just-don’t-give-a-damn way, looking sophisticated, elegant, and unattainable. In Millionaire she is the mastermind behind the Manhattan penthouse scheme that will land her and her gold digger friends millionaire husbands. Every plan is flawless and yet somewhere, every plan somehow terribly goes awry. Set to pick up men at the department store by forgetting money, the girls run into a few good men, and an older William Powell- looking dashing and debonair. Powell is Lauren’s conquest, twice her age, Lauren just can’t say no to the money( he’s into oil and cattle). Lauren’s other problem comes in the form of a ‘gas-pump jockey’ who obviously can’t rub two nickels together.
Betty Grable gets her hands on a married man who whines all the time, but owns a ski lodge which makes up for it. Betty, however, does find it a bit hard to ignore the handsome ranger whose nursing her back to health when she gets the measles. Marilyn is the girl who won’t wear her glasses and goes about bumping into things- including walls- so men won’t discover her secret. Hilariously played by Marilyn you can actually see her comedic timing in play in this film. Poor Marilyn winds up with a guy whose worth millions- if only he could get his hands on it- but then she can see things again, so its a trade off.
One by one they hone in on their targets and become happily blinded by what they want to see. Lauren is the only one who has her man nearly at the altar before giving into the cheapo she’s in love with- little does she know the gas pump jockey she is in love with is worth billions, and owns a city in Pennsylvania. Its every girls dream in glorious technicolor!
Laced with classic slapstick humor, witty writing,and a sprawling orchestral intro, I can never get enough of this film. An absolute gem in the 50’s, annstj mentioned there was television show back then too with this theme. While I have yet to see it, there can never be too many things to help along with those big dreams.