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How to Marry a Millionaire(1953)
Three New York models, Shatze, Pola and Loco set-up in an exclusive appartment with a plan: tired of cheap men and a lack of money they intend to use all their talents to trap and marry three millionaires. The trouble is that's it's not so easy to tell the rich men from the huxters and even when they can, is the money really worth it?
For more about How to Marry a Millionaire and the How to Marry a Millionaire Blu-ray release, see How to Marry a Millionaire Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on August 2, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell
Director: Jean Negulesco
» See full cast & crew
How to Marry a Millionaire Blu-ray Review
"I think it's just creamy."
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, August 2, 2012
She was the innocent girl next door and a va-va-voom sex symbol. A "dumb" blond anxious to be taken seriously. The archetypal exploited starlet, a shrewd showbiz negotiator, and an on-top-of-the-world performer with a personal life in shambles. A flame snuffed out too soon and a 20th century pop culture icon forever immortalized on the screen. Marilyn Monroe was and is a glorious contradiction, and the enigma of her life, career, and death has inspired an ongoing stream of biographies and photobooks, critical commentary and general interest. As this year is the 50th anniversary of Monroe's probable suicide, the tributes have been coming in at an even faster pace, from Vanity Fair covers to NBC's Smash to the recent My Week with Marilyn.
20th Century Fox is getting in on the action with the Forever Marilyn collection, a seven-disc set that features a selection of films made between 1952 and 1962, the decade that took Monroe from a pretty up-and-coming face to the most recognized and highly paid actress on the planet. The films are also available individually—Some Like It Hot and The Misfits came out last year, the rest arrive simultaneously this week —and since the set includes no exclusive special features, it's really up to fans if they want to go all in or pick and choose which titles they want. (Unsurprisingly, you save a bit of cash with the boxed set.) Instead of writing up a single, epically long review of the Forever Marilyn collection as a whole, we've put up a sort of overview here of the packaging and contents, with links to the individual reviews.
The second disc in the collection is 1953's How to Marry A Millionaire, a big-budget romantic comedy and the first film to be shot in the new widescreen Cinemascope format, a bid to get television-obsessed post-war audiences back into theaters for a unique cinematic experience that couldn't be had at home. "If you want to get the crowds to come around," goes the Cole Porter line in Silk Stockings, "you've gotta have glorious Technicolor, breathtaking Cinemascope, and stereophonic sound." Porter was a bit ignorant of the filmmaking realities, however. Cinemascope and true three-strip Technicolor were quickly found to be incompatible, due to distortion, graininess, and soft-focus problems. There's simply no such thing as an anamorphic widescreen three-strip Technicolor movie. Oh, you'll spot a Technicolor credit at the start of How to Marry a Millionaire, but the film was actually shot on Eastmancolor single-strip negative stock and merely processed by Technicolor, a sort of sly marketing ploy. But let's not quibble over technicalities.
The film itself is a frosted confection of a comedy—not exactly dramatically filling, but delicious nonetheless. Like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the subject here is the age-old marry for love or marry for money dilemma, with love predictably winning out in the end. The film opens with a gratuitously long six-minute sequence of composer Alfred Newman's orchestra performing "Street Scene," clearly meant to show off the capabilities of Cinemascope and 4-channel stereophonic sound, but completely unrelated to the subsequent story. When we finally get going, we follow three bachelorettes, all fashion models—the shrewd Shatze Page (Lauren Ball), pushing forty and in need of a husband pronto, the appropriately named "Loco" Dempsy (Betty Grable), and the blind-as-a-bat ditz Pola Debevoise (Marilyn Monroe)—as they rent an out-of-their-league penthouse flat, thinking their upscale digs will attract wealthy gentlemen caller. "If you want to catch a mouse," explains Shatze, "you set a mouse trap."
The apartment is owned by Freddie Denmark (David Wayne), who's hiding from the IRS in Europe, and the three middle-class girls make ends meet by pawning off his furniture and belongings to pay the rent. The plan, shall we say, is as short-sighted as Pola, who refuses to wear corrective lenses— after all, "men are seldom attentive to girls who wear glasses," she says, bungling the famous Dorothy Parker line—and comically stumbles her way around the set. The ladies do meet a trio of well-to-do businessmen at a party for oil investors, however; Shatze begins wooing the friendly widower J.D. Hanley (William Powell), Loco runs off to rural Maine with the married grump Waldo Brewster (Fred Clark), and Pola falls under the spell of a crook posing as an Arab tycoon (Alex D'Arcy). Through the usual rom-com reversals—played out entertainingly, if with little originality—the three women end up with entirely different men by the picture's conclusion.
Modern day feminists may face-palm and shake their heads at the film's sexual stereotyping, but hey, How to Marry a Millionaire was a product of the domestic 1950s, when "marrying up" was considered a woman's quickest way to success. Looking past the outdated gender roles, the script— written by Nunnally Johnson—is quite funny, buoyed by Monroe's airheadeness and sharpened by Bacall's icy manipulative stares. Betty Grable, of course, was Hollywood's platinum blond icon before Marilyn came along, and their appearance here together amounts to a passing of the torch. Far from being jealous, Grable is famously quoted as telling the curvy up-and-comer, "Go and get yours, honey! I've had mine!"
How to Marry a Millionaire Blu-ray, Video Quality
The first feature to be shot in Cinemascope—though The Robe was technically released first—How to Marry a Millionaire was a bid by 20th Century Fox to draw audiences back to the theater with a viewing experience that just couldn't be replicated at home on television. While the grandeur of seeing Marilyn in a bikini on the big big screen is unsurpassable, 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray release of the film gets us pretty close, with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that reproduces the theatrical experience wonderfully. The 35mm grain structure is entirely intact—no obvious digital noise reduction or edge enhancement here—and the print has been given a remarkable clean-up, leaving it in pristine condition, with nary a speck or scratch to be seen. Clarity is much improved from standard definition DVD; although the film has never been exceptionally sharp, the newfound level of detail in the costumes and sets is immediately appreciable. Of course, this transfer is all about the Eastmancolor/DeLuxe Color hues, which weren't quite as vibrant as true three-strip Technicolor, but had a sometimes creamy-toned, sometimes candy-colored quality that's gorgeous here. You'll notice some mild color/brightness fluctuations from time to time—besides the normal ones that occur during scene changes—but nothing distracting or pervasive. High marks are well-deserved here.
How to Marry a Millionaire Blu-ray, Audio Quality
How to Marry a Millionaire's original 4-channel stereophonic sound has been expanded slightly—and with care—into a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. In short, it sounds excellent, especially considering the restraints of recording technology at the time. You expect mid-century movies to have a dynamically flat quality—all mids, no bass—but the six-minute opening orchestral sequence here is relatively full and crisp, with a forceful presence from the front speakers and some quiet but noticeable bleed into the rears. Alfred Newman's score is appropriately lush throughout. The surrounds don't get much play otherwise, but the front-anchored mix has a great sense of clarity, free of hisses, pops, or crackles. Dialogue is clean and balanced too, and always easily understood. The disc includes an English Dolby Digital 4.0 track for comparison, along with a wide selection of dubs and subtitle options.
How to Marry a Millionaire Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
How to Marry a Millionaire Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A mid-century chick flick with more wit than just about all of today's crummy rom-com shlock, How to Marry a Millionaire features three female leads who each learn the age-old lesson that love is more valuable than money. Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall are excellent in their roles—Bacall especially, manipulative but empathetic—although it's Marilyn Monroe who steals the show from her more experienced co-stars. 20th Century Fox's Blu- ray release is short on special features, but it looks and sounds wonderful and presents a solid all-around upgrade from Fox's previous DVD. Recommended!
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How to Marry a Millionaire Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Forever Marilyn Part 1: The Second Fox CinemaScope Film: How to M... - July 31, 2012
Forever Marilyn is here!, The 2nd CinemaScope film released, a favorite of fans and Marilyn herself-How to Marry a Millionaire.. We've researched the making of this film from interviews, studio files and libraries. For any Cinemascope fan, the graphics that await ...
• Forever Marilyn: The Blu-ray Collection (Updated) - June 1, 2012
In July, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will bring the Forever Marilyn Collection to Blu-ray. Timed to mark the fiftieth anniversary of screen icon Marilyn Monroe's tragic passing, this box set contains seven of her most beloved features, five of which ...
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