How grand for 20th Century Fox to release a set of some of the best Marilyn Monroe Classics. Some of these films were among the first CinemaScope productions at 20th Century Fox, with How to Marry a Millionaire being the second following "The Robe.". According to 20th Century Fox, each film in the set has been restored in digital transfers and the soundtracks taken from the original magnetic 35mm stems. The box set looks to be a real treat for classic fans, and new fans of film who are discovering classic Hollywood and should be a must on the shelf of Blu-ray fans. Here at The Silver Screen, we will cover more of these films (though this film has its own column, the others will be 'double feature' columns). While we do give some history of the Cinemascope process, a special holiday column later this year for "The Robe" will go into great depth about the widescreen process. The Robe was released before we began this Silver Screen column, so we were not able to cover it at the time of release.
Marry A Millionaire," a comedy with David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell and William Powell, who share co-starring honors with the three Hollywood starlets, who were revealed on the screen in CinemaScope for the first time. What the new anamorphic lens process did to their personalities is another chapter in the revolutionary method of filming motion pictures.
For the story background Pro City's famous skyline, its fabulous harbor, the canyons of Wall Street and fashionable Sutton Place. These scenes, when they were spread out on the panoramic Miracle Mirror screen more than twice as large as the old standard screen, captured the spectacle of the big city as it was never before seen on a motion picture screen. The story of How to Marry a Millionaire is about three beautiful New York fashion models who decide it's as easy to love a rich man as a poor man. They: Monroe, Grable and Bacall, pool their resources to put on the dog in a swank rented apartment and are forced to sell most of its furnishings in order to eat. The men they meet in their efforts to snare millionaire husbands are the quartet of co-stars. How the three young ladies solve their romantic and financial dilemmas makes for some mirthful situations.
Payroll sheet from the Fox archives.
Miss Monroe plays the role of a myopic blonde who is as blind as a bat without her glasses, Miss Grable makes her debut as a straight comedienne, and Miss Bacall does a switch from her low-voiced roles to playing a salty-talking model, who hates herself for falling for a handsome but poor "gas pump jockey." Cameron Mitchell is her target. David Wayne, who was the sensation of the Broadway stage in "The Teahouse of the August Moon," had one of the funniest roles of his career, and William Powell is again his debonair self.
Rory Calhoun, as a forest ranger, had an opportunity to show Miss Grable the intricacies of skiing made increasingly spectacular with the wide expanse afforded by the anamorphic lens of CinemaScope. Fred Clark and Alex D'Arcy score handily in support. Something special is provided for the ladies in How to Marry a Millionaire through a modeling sequence in which the Misses Monroe, Grable and Bacall parade in mink, silks and jewelry of the latest style. Yes, Miss Monroe does wear a bathing suit in this all-encompassing fashion show. Nunnally Johnson's screenplay is based on plays by Zoe Akins ("The Greeks Had a Word For It") and Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert ("Loco").
Jean Negulesco, director of How to Marry a Millionaire was a well-known artist as well, and had many exhibitions of his work. For "Millionaire" he made five continuous one-line drawings to decorate sets used by stars Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall. The drawings were on paper covered with sheer silk, done in water color. Negulesco's actress-model wife, Dusty Anderson, appeared in each of Jean's films as a good-luck token. It was easy in "Millionaire"; she appears briefly as a model in a fashion show scene.
Costume promotion suggested by Fox publicity.
Nunnally Johnson, Screenwriter and Producer
With the panoramic curved screen of CinemaScope, motion pictures became the "perfect medium" for the creative writer, according to Nunnally Johnson, writer and producer of How to Marry a Millionaire.
The picture made virtually every scene a closeup, and Johnson believed that its wide canvas freed the screen writer of all his former mechanical shackles. "The film writer now can visualize his scenes in their entirety, as a playwright does, and not be cramped by thinking of them in terms of 'cuts/ 'closeups,' and 'inserts/ " Johnson pointed out. "Likewise, CinemaScope's third-dimensional sound lends an importance to dialogue equal to that of the stage. In short, Johnson said, the added realism of the big screen made possible more realism in the writing.
With the film industry then seeking bigger and better stories for CinemaScope, Johnson criticized writers who complained, on the one hand, of scarce markets for their wares and fail, on the other, to submit their works to motion pictures. "The writers' negligence in submitting material to Hollywood can come only from ignorance or snobbism," he said. "The literary lads have looked far too long with upturned noses and downcast eyes upon the movies, claiming they write only 'on order' or that the movies are too 'commercial' in their demands.
Marilyn Monroe on the set
"Nonsense. How many authors can name editors or book publishers who 'order' stories from them and pay in advance? Certainly the movies aren't more commercial because they charge 60 cents admission while a magazine sells for half that." It was Johnson's opinion that CinemaScope would broaden horizons for the writer, make possible the dramatizing of situations which would be confined and imprisoned on the printed page. "For instance," he said, "no writer has the gift to portray in words the magnitude and the spirit of New York City as we did in 'How To Marry A Millionaire' with a single shot of the city's streets and skyline. This one scene was so moving that audiences applauded it in recent CinemaScope demonstrations as though it were a symphony orchestra."
Fox trade advertisement from Boxoffice Magazine, 1953.
Marilyn Monroe wanted all her women fans to know that from the time she made How to Marry a Millionaire on she would be, off screen, a conformist in dress. This pronouncement was made during filming. Following disclosure that she had acquired a private wardrobe de-emphasizing the obvious, Miss Monroe revealed that she had been forced in the past to use some of her skin-tight screen gowns for street wear because she didn't have enough dresses to clothe herself in the fashion the public expects of a movie star. Marilyn Monroe plays a near-sighted girl too vain to wear glasses in How to Marry a Millionaire and had taken up the cudgels for all cheater-wearing young girls. "Some of the most beautiful girls in the world wear glasses," Miss Monroe said, "and I am glad to be able to do whatever possible to offset the unkind stories that glasses hurt a girl's looks."
Marilyn Monroe publicity still
When she signed her Twentieth Century-Fox contract, she said, she had only two dresses suitable for semi-formal wear and not a single evening gown. "Because I was pressed into one public appearance after another it was necessary for me to borrow clothes from the studio wardrobe," Miss Monroe confessed. "They were better than I could afford and if they were too daring you can blame men designers who design clothes for men's appreciation. Women must dress for other women—and my first complete wardrobe designed by a woman will include a lot of suits and high-necked dresses that all women wear."
Marilyn Monroe publicity still
In How to Marry a Millionaire as in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" Miss Monroe was compelled to wear sketchy costumes to emphasize her screen character as a gold-digger in both films, but she said she would wear this type of revealing costume only on the screen. She'll be conservatively dressed on all other occasions. Marilyn was the first Twentieth Century-Fox star to go before the anamorphic-lensed camera three times. She had completed her second film made in the process, "River Of No Return," opposite Robert Mitchum (available in the "Forever Marilyn" set and coming in the next Silver Screen column). She was seen in the "Diamond's Are A Girl's Best Friend" sequence of "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," as part of the original hour-long CinemaScope demonstration program shown to the press and those in show business. That special clip made Marilyn the first star in CinemaScope.
Marilyn Monroe publicity stills
Marilyn was very excited to get the part for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (This is one title we do not have enough material to cover for a column here, so we will add this here) but she was friends with Carol Channing, who had played the role on Broadway. In fact, she had gone to visit Channing backstage after seeing the show before she was signed for the movie. Marilyn commented to Photoplay Magazine, "This is one of those situations that I am very unhappy with. A woman who plays a part on Broadway for hundreds of performances really 'is' the part, and under contract with Fox, I had to accept the role. I did march into the executive offices at Fox and practically begged them to cast Carol Channing, because she was so wonderful. I did get a chance to see her after the film was released and she was so gracious, told me she had gone to see the film and loved it, but I could see some hurt behind her eyes, and I didn't blame her. No one can sing 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend' like she can."
The film was heavily promoted in women's magazines.
Lauren Bacall said she was the happiest woman in Hollywood while filing How to Marry a Millionaire. The reason, she explained, is because she had everything a woman—or an actress—needed: home, family, health and a career. Resuming her screen career after three years of "nesting," as she described the birth of her and Humphrey Bogart's two children, she considered her role in "How To Marry A Millionaire as the best she has ever had.
Miss Bacall said, "It's wonderful enough just to get back to work," Miss Bacall said, "but when you are fortunate enough to begin again in an entirely new cinematic medium, you really get giddy about it. CinemaScope is the most exciting thing that has happened to all of us in the entertainment industry. The new process with its wide screen that permits audiences a feeling of participation in the story gives a new meaning to film acting. Since most scenes are continuous, as on the stage, the performers get more into the wing of the story and consequently it makes for better acting."
Lauren Bacall publicity still
In "How To Marry A Millionaire" Miss Bacall had a chance to establish herself as a comedienne after nine years and nine starring pictures. In this, story of three gold-digging models— the other two being Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe — the tawny-haired, grey-green eyed actress plays "Schatze Page," a tired fugitive from a poor husband's budget who decides after her divorce that it's as easy to love a rich man as a poor one. She thus becomes the ring-leader of her blonde companions in a hilarious scheme to snare millionaire husbands. Nunnally Johnson, who wrote the screen play as well as being the producer, presented Miss Bacall as a straight-talking woman. which she is in real life, and gave her enough witty lines to change the public's conception of her from a straight romantic star to a clever comedienne. Motherhood did not rob Miss Bacall of any of her willowy charm. She still had the curves in the right places and the proper proportions to a lithe body.
Lauren Bacall publicity still
Working together on "How to Marry a Millionaire, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable were expected to clash. They didn't. They hadn't met before but became the best of pals, using each others dressing room, taking coffee together, etc. Said Marilyn: "She's as wonderful a person as she is a dancer." Reciprocated Betty: "She's been a shot in the arm for Hollywood. We all owe a lot to her." Said co-star William Powell: These girls, like Clara Bow and Jean Harlow, have 'It.' Don't ask me what 'It' is. Certainly more than beauty, personality and sex appeal. Whatever it is, it's magnetic." At Bill's suggestion, Marilyn became a platinum blonde, a modified version of the hair-do of the late, great Jean Harlow. It's a gray-white, sort of old-silver hue.
How To Marry A Millionaire might well have been titled "How To Change Careers At The Top." For Betty Grable was considering putting her dancing shoes away although they made her one of Hollywood's top ten attractions for ten previous years. "I am a dancer," Betty said once. "People like to hear me sing, see me dance and watch my legs." But the CinemaScope Technicolor comedy was another matter. "Give me something light and gay, in which the spirit at least can dance, and I'll be a good girl," she told Twentieth Century-Fox, with whom she is winding up a long association to free lance. How the public accepted her in How To Marry A Millionaire had a lot of bearing on what course her career took, Betty explained.
The 5-foot 3-inch blue-eyed pin up girl had reason to think twice before abandoning dancing. Her legs made her. At the age of 13 her tap dancing won her a specialty spot in "Let's Go Places," after which she danced in the chorus of the old Fox company for a year. From there the youngster went to Samuel Goldwyn for a part in Eddie Cantor's "Whoopee"; did a short stage stint with Barbara Stanwyck and Frank Fay, sang with Ted Fio Rito's band, made a film with Wheeler and Woolsey and got a Contract with RKO. For two years she showed her knees at the studio, then played college sophomores at Paramount for two more.
Original German program book
In 1939 she went on a personal appearance tour, climaxed by a part with Ethel Merman and Bert Lahr in Buddy DeSylva's New York show, "Du Barry Was A Lady," in which she was an instant hit. Darryl F. Zanuck saw a picture of her legs and gave her a contract. Alice Faye, scheduled for "Down Argentine Way," a big musical, was taken ill, and Betty filled her stockings. That did it. Pictures like "Moon Over Miami," "Footlight Serenade," "Coney Island" and "Sweet Rosie O'Grady" made her the first woman to top an exhibitor's box-office poll (The Motion Picture Herald, a trade publication).
For three straight years: 1946, '47 and '48, Grable was the highest salaried woman in the United States, according to figures published by the Treasury Department. At the time she and husband Harry James had two children, 28 race horses, two ranches and two Beverly Hills estates. How To Marry A Millionaire was her 40th film, and, as she hoped, marked a turning point in her career. She had the temperament, the sense of humor, the timing, the face and eyes for comedy. "And it's a lot easier than dancing," she said of her first day's work in the picture. "In the past I've had to rehearse dance routines for months before the start of shooting. Now all I have to do is study a few pages of dialogue and make faces. Maybe I've been missing something."
Like the prizefighter who hangs up his gloves after a championship bout or the baseball player who preserves his favorite bat, William Powell, who had been a screen star in Hollywood for 32 years, hung the costume he wore in How To Marry A Millionaire in a special wardrobe section in the basement of his home when he finished the picture. His valet sprayed it with a moth-proofing agent, covered it with a paper sack and tagged it "No. 68, co-stars Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, David Wayne—Director Jean Negulesco, Producer Nunnally Johnson." Thus completed one of the most extensive costume collections in Hollywood history—one costume for each picture in which Powell appeared.
Original advertisement painting
Since the actor was eligible for a pension from M-G-M, the collection he added he will always be available if the part is choice enough. "It's just as well that I quit acting because there's hardly any more room to hang the souvenir costumes," Powell said. Included in the collection are costumes from "Sherlock Holmes," which he played in 1921, "Beau Geste," "The Thin Man," "The Great Ziegfield" and other Powell triumphs. Since then, some of the costumes have been sold off and some are in museums, and several were included in the recent Debbie Reynolds Hollywood History Auction.
Charlotte Austin, who heads the bevy of models in How To Marry A Millionaire at the time was considered Hollywood's first CinemaScope "find." The story of her rise was another one of those fabulous yarns with a Cinderella twist that cropped up periodically in Hollywood. Back in March of 1953, Twentieth Century-Fox began its first demonstrations of the new CinemaScope process which projects a picture on a panoramic screen twice as large as the normal movie screen. Among the scenes shown with the Cinemascope lens that has caused such a a revolution in motion picture production and exhibition was a test made for How To Marry A Millionaire in which Miss Austin was given the assignment of "stand-in" for Marilyn Monroe. The scene was seen by thousands of exhibitors, producers, writers, players and newspaper men throughout the country. When it came on the screen the beholders immediately said: "Whoever that girl is, she's going places."
Thus, Charlotte stepped into the CinemaScope spotlight before the general public had a chance to see the new process. Charlotte, who was named after her birthplace in North Carolina, is the daughter of Gene Austin, famed radio and recording star. Her mother, Mrs. Ned Kalmar, was the former Agnes Antelline, niece of a celebrated Italian opera singer so Miss Austin came by her singing talent quite naturally. She was of Italian descent on her mother's side and Shoshone Indian, English, Irish and French descent on her father's. Miss Austin was been under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox for sometime and had been attending the studio's school. It was the magic of CinemaScope which projected her into the spotlight.
Movie Magazines heavily covered the film.
How to Marry a Millionaire came to the screen as the second offering in CinemaScope by the company that introduced the new process with "The Robe," the record-smashing pace-setter for a new era in film production. CinemaScope had been heralded by industry leaders, critics, and its first audiences as an important milestone in film entertainment, the next great technological development in a procession of progress that incorporated first sound, then color. The revolutionary process brought a panoramic scope to the screen which gave the audience a sense of participation while achieving the illusion of depth. Furthermore, this photographic marvel does not require the use of any special glasses to attain this effect, with films in 3D having been extremely popular but only in 1952-1954.
Trade magazine ad
CinemaScope consisted of an anamorphic lens, a specially proportioned screen and stereophonic sound. The anamorphic lens used on the motion picture camera "squeezed" the shot of the action onto regulation-size film. When this film is projected through a compensating anamorphic lens attached to the theater projection machine the same view is "released," spreading the image horizontally to its original form or to an aspect ratio of 2.55 to 1 (later 2.35:1 became the norm). This proportion is the exact arc that the human eye focuses and in the filming of "How To Marry A Millionaire," the studio had been more than generous in providing one eye-filling sequence after another of three of the most luscious queens in Hollywood. As the lens follows their madcap antics to lure rich men to the altar, it managed to reveal such vistas as the New York skyline viewed from the harbor and from atop an elegant penthouse in the heart of Manhattan. It swept on to include the snowy slopes of a Maine ski run and take-offs of streamlined luxury airliners, but always returned to give generous close-ups of Monroe, Grable and Bacall.
The second chapter in the history of the new CinemaScope era in motion picture production and presentation was written when "How To Marry A Millionaire," the first comedy produced in the new process by Twentieth Century-Fox, had its local premiere. Only a few weeks prior the public was introduced to the wonders of the revolutionary development in motion picture making with the presentation of "The Robe," the film company's initial production in CinemaScope form. In announcing the premiere of "How To Marry A Millionaire," many theater managers revealed that their cinemas has been completely equipped to accommodate CinemaScope, a three-fold process that had been acclaimed as the greatest advancement in motion picture presentation since the advent of sound some 20 years prior. The cost of converting a cinema to Cinemascope was expensive, so major cities were the first to be converted.
Important to the proper projection of CinemaScope product was the use of a specially curved and treated Miracle Mirror screen with its millions of tiny "lenses" reflecting greater light for a maximum of projection clarity and color richness. Many theaters projection equipment had been revamped with the compensating lenses necessary for the projection of the picture. The anamorphic lens used in the filming of a CinemaScope picture made it possible for a 35 mm camera to reach out to each side as the eye does and compress a wide angle scene onto a narrow strip of film. When this film was projected through the compensating lens it spread the image horizontally to its original shape to fill the entire proscenium of the theater.
Rare Fox Cinemascope comparison
The equipped theaters also had been completely equipped for stereophonic sound, which was the third component of the CinemaScope process. This high fidelity sound system used four magnetic tracks which were carried on the 35 mm film. The sound from these tracks was transmitted through speakers strategically placed in the theater, giving the natural and realistic effect of sound emanating from the actual persons or locations on the vast CinemaScope screen. The audience was treated to a real sense of participation, according to theater managers across the country. The picture with its wealth of intimate scenes as well as the massiveness of its New York locale demonstrated the facility of the CinemaScope camera in bringing new life and new vistas to the motion picture screen and according to Producer Nunnally Johnson, who also wrote the screen play for the comedy, and Director Jean Negulesco, the new method enriched the entertainment possibilities of any film which utilized it.
Hand in hand in importance is the high-fidelity sound system which placed the four sound tracks on the same strip of 35mm. film that carries the photographic image. The Robe was the first time many audiences had heard stereophonic sound in theaters, though the Cinerama films and Disney's Fantasia had used it but in only large city limited engagements). Twentieth Century-Fox at the time "Millionaire" was released had the following CinemaScope films lined up for early release: Tyrone Power in "King of the Khyber Rifles"; "Prince Valiant," starring Robert Wagner and James Mason; "Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef," revealing the mysteries beneath the seas; "We Believe in Love," filmed in Rome and Venice; "Night People," produced in Germany with Gregory Peck, and "Demetrius and the Gladiators," sequel to "The Robe." Meanwhile M-G-M was soon prepared to show its first CinemaScope production, "Knights of the Round Table," to be followed by "Rose Marie," and Warner Brothers was readying "A Star Is Born" and "Mr. Roberts" among others in CinemaScope.
Fox commissioned trade ad
The players in this revolutionary production seem to sense the epoch-making qualities of CinemaScope and they rise to the occasion with scintillating performances. Miss Monroe delineates a gold-digger to perfection and Miss Grable turns comedienne for the first time with a performance that scores from the outset while Miss Bacalls role of a salty-talking model, who believes it is just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one, is handled with finesse. While the distaff side carries much of the plot on their pretty shoulders the men come in for their share of accolades that must be passed around.
David Wayne has the funniest role of his career and William Powell is as debonair as usual. Rory Calhoun and Cameron Mitchell round out the star roster and give outstanding performances. In its Cinemascope form there is so much new and different about How to Marry a Millionaire that it is difficult to single out specific highlights, but it can be said without reservation that Twentieth Century-Fox has given us a really delightful motion picture.
Fox shows the use of the anamorphic process.
CinemaScope also had its effect on the lives of Hollywood actresses. Now the cinema glamour girls could throw away their diet books, according to Jean Negulesco who directed "How To Marry A Millionaire." "Conventional flat screen photography added anything from a pound or so to 10 pounds to the actress, depending upon a number of variables such as bone structure," the director explained. "The result was that some stars actually dieted themselves underweight in order to appear at their most attractive weight on the screen. But the new CinemaScope process, with its concave screen and three dimensional illusion, permits an actress to appear at what is really her best weight without having to allow for a fattening camera lens."
Trade ad from Motion Picture Exhibitor Magazine (best available quality)
Dieting was not a thing of the past in Hollywood, Negulesco averred, but the new lenses provide relief. "This is all a very good thing, too. Excessive dieting tends sometimes to decrease the amount of expression in a face and develops vertical lines which can end a career." Negulesco could comment with authority, since the stars of "How To Marry A Millionaire" were three of Hollywood's top glamour girls. "I don't know whether diet had anything to do with the way they looked when they came on the set," he said diplomatically on the set, "but I do know I would have shot anyone who tried to interfere in any way with their distribution of poundage."
Trade ad (best quality available)
Rory Calhoun's role in How To Marry A Millionaire was written right out of the pages of his life,
Nunnally Johnson, who wrote as well as produced the picture, knew of the actor's outdoor life and ranching activities and wrote him into the story as a forest ranger who inadvertently leads Betty Grable into thinking that he owns the forest. In real life Calhoun once worked as a forest firefighter and as a logger in California's redwoods, earning $1.35 an hour swinging an axe. As in the picture, Calhoun thinks of the huge Los Padres National Forest as his own. The forest adjoined his own 260 acre ranch near Ojai, Calif., and for all practical purposes the land was his, to hunt, fish and camp in.
Calhoun, quietly and without publicity, had turned his ranch into a camp for juvenile delinquents and was an active participant in the "California Rangers" program which put erring youths on private ranches and farms instead of in reform schools. On his ranch Calhoun took care of fifty youngsters at a time, teaching them to ride, hunt, fish and otherwise spend their time in healthful, wholesome pursuits. During his time away from his film chores at the studio the actor conducted classes for the boys in woodcraft and forestry, drawing on his experience as a former logger. Calhoun admitted that there was some selfishness in his work with the delinquents. "I like the outdoors myself and I get a kick out of the kids," he explained.
Rory Calhoun, in the late 1940s, was one of the 'hottest' young actors to grace the American screen. Born Francis McCowan in Los Angeles, the actor's early years included imprisonment in the California Youth Authority at 13 and later hard time in San Quentin for armed robbery. Finally paroled at age 21, Rory was spotted horseback riding in the Hollywood Hills by actor Alan Ladd, whose wife Sue was an agent. At one of her parties young Francis was taken in hand by notorious gay agent Henry Willson (Mr. Willson's list of talent would later include Rock Hudson, Guy Madison, Troy Donahue, etc.).
Henry Willson briefly christened his new find "Troy Donahue" but later changed his name to Rory Calhoun. Troy would have to wait until the next decade to be used. Whether Mr. Willson sampled the new talent or not is debatable. Rory Calhoun's first major film was "The Red House" released in 1947. Starring Edward G. Robinson, the film co-starred gay actor Lon McCallister but the real find of the movie was the duo of Rory Calhoun and Julie London. As this movie was never properly copyrighted, it was shown on TV during the 1950s often. Calhoun did do a few major films including With a Song in My Heart alongside Susan Hayward, and both How to Marry a Millionaire and "River of No Return" with Marilyn Monroe.
Although he continued to make movies and even had a TV Western series The Texan, Rory Calhoun never reached the top in Hollywood. His criminal past was revealed by Confidential magazine in 1955 (a magazine that was notorious for finding scandel in hollywood and "outing" gay stars). It turned out that Henry Willson disclosed this information to the scandal sheet in order to prevent them from printing an expose of Rock Hudson's gay life. The Confidential tell-all had very little negative effect on Calhoun's career as he always played the bad boy, and most of his film career was over by then.
There is a book about Henry Willson, "The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson" about Calhoun's affair with Guy Madison. Henry Wilson's outing of Calhoun to Confidential Magazine hurt his career, but Wilson was much more interested in keeping up a 'straight' appearance for Rock Hudson, and so Calhoun was sacrificed. Sadly, that's the way it was in Hollywood at the time. One can only imagine the hardships and deep anxiety and sadness a gay actor had back then. The studios knew that a certain percentage of their contract players were gay, but forced them to publicly date women and hide their private lives.
On the set.
Cameron Mitchell, who went to Hollywood on the strength of his memorable acting of the role of "Happy" Loman on the Broadway stage In "Death of a Salesman," had never had cause to be happier than in 1955. After twenty years on the Twentieth Century-Fox payroll, in which time he scored in "Man on a Tightrope" and "Les Miserables," Cam Mitchell had been selected by the studio to get the "build-up" treatment in the new medium of Cinemascope. 20th Century Fox looked at Cinemascope as not only a fantastic innovation in film, but as a way to take their stable of contract players and make them stars. Already Mitchell had starred in two completed CinemaScope productions, designed to show off his versatility as well as the flexibility of the process, How To Marry A Millionaire, and the second, which was to be released in mid-winter after 'Millionaire', "Hell and High Water," which was an underwater action thriller.
David Wayne was having his biggest season in show business, celebrating twin successes simultaneously on the Broadway stage in the smash hit play, "The Teahouse of the August Moon," and on the screen as leading man in the second CinemaScope production, and How To Marry A Millionaire. In "Teahouse" he played an Oriental "Mr. Fixit" and interpreter to,U. S. forces. Wayne's 14th picture in a five-year Hollywood span, he was said to be delighted that his temporary bow-out from film work came with so auspicious a vehicle as "Millionaire" and with it. the opportunity to be one of the first CinemaScope stars to mark the dawn of a new film era. As a matter of fact, he was just about the first, because he and Charlotte Austin, a starlet appearing in "Millionaire," participated in a special advance CinemaScope reel shot for demonstration purposes several months before the public debut of the technique with the release of "The Robe."
This program book handed out at large city cinemas
No stranger to the stage, it was Wayne's unforgettable work in two striking Broadway hits, the modern comedy classic "Mister Roberts" (where he straight-manned Henry Fonda) and the memorable musical (David was a singer, too) "Finian's Rainbow," that first had him summoned to the movies. It wasn't until the two successive hits, spanning three Broadway seasons, had enjoyed long runs that David could take on the beckoning offer of Twentieth Century-Fox. His belated Broadway return in "The Teahouse" elicited nothing but raves from the New York critics. In the pre-CinemaScope era, Wayne's favorite role was the portrayal of impressario Sol Hurok in the biographical musical, "Tonight We Sing." On a loan-out deal he scored his first drama in a duplication of the old German horror film, "M."
Music Score and Overture
The film features an actual overture. The 20th Century Fox Orchestra is displayed before the camera to perform "Street Scene," conducted by its composer Alfred Newman. This was intended to highlight CinemaScope's new four-track magnetic stereophonic sound system with the widescreen covering the entire orchestra. The orchestra appears in one camera angle playing the entire piece. At the end of the piece, Newman turned to take a bow before launching into the main titles for the picture. The orchestra reappears briefly for the "End Title.", Newman originally composed the Street Scene for the film Street Scene (in 1931) and used it in numerous subsequent New York-based films (The Dark Corner, Kiss of Death, Cry of the City and I Wake Up Screaming..
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. The music was again recorded at the Hollywood Bowl and has become a staple of film music.
Fox music promotion.
For the filming of this scene, a sound stage at the Fox studio was used. Alfred Newman arranged the orchestra so that it would look perfect on the Cinemascope screen, but more so the instruments would be in proper stereophonic assemble. Newman later said of this experience, "I was forever grateful of 20th Century Fox for letting me do this opening. It is tough for a composer, who really has such an important part of any film, to remain invisible except for credits on screen, so this was a wonderful experience and the entire Fox orchestra was very proud of the event. We had three very expensive brand new microphones assembled above the players, and worked for weeks to get the proper sound we needed. When I saw it at a studio special screening in a Fox screening room that was converted to Cinemascope, I can tell you I rarely had such a feeling of excitement."
Boxoffice Magazine promotional advertisement for theater owners.
Much of the filming was done in New York including the famous 36 Sutton Place South (the apartment), The George Washington Bridge, Rockefeller Center, then on to Sun Valley, Idaho and finally to Stage 14 at Fox. The heads of Fox had originally wanted to film exclusively at the studio but the director was firm on New York as the setting.
At the Rivoli Theatre
How to Marry a Millionaire premiered on November 4, 1953 in Los Angeles and on the 10th of November in New York. For both premieres, 20th Century Fox pulled out all the stops and sent special invitations to some 500 of Hollywood's (and Broadway's)biggest names. A multitude of stars arrived in formal dress. The film had cost 20th Century Fox $2.1 million dollars, and brought in $7.3 million in rentals. The New York Times said, "Bursting on the long Cinemascope screen is a fun comedy that was most enjoyable." Variety noted that, "Fox has used the Cinemascope process to its advantage and created a thoroughly entertaining film and has cast it perfectly." The film was nominated for one Academy Award, Best Costume Design, was nominated for best film from the BAFTA Awards, and nominated for the WGA Award for Best Written American Comedy.
The glamorous premiere.
A review from "Motion Picture Exhibitor" (trade) magazine the week after the premiere (used with permission):
"Last night the audience was treated to a new and enriching experience in motion picture entertainment. It was the premiere of "How To Marry A Millionaire," Twentieth Century-Fox's hilarious comedy produced in the new CinemaScope form, and what a delightful evening it was. Just imagine being invited into a lush penthouse apartment on Sutton Place in New York to meet Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall and you'll have some idea of the magic CinemaScope gives to a film. To say that these three Hollywood beauties were more luscious in their new panoramic atmosphere than they have ever been on the screen before would be the understatement of the year. They were gorgeous and they acted their roles of three fashion models out to snare millionaire husbands with a relish that bespoke the enthusiasm they felt in their new environment.
More premiere photographs
From the moment they pool their meager resources to put on the dog in a swank rented apartment and are forced to sell most of the furnishings in order to eat, until they all wind up at a hamburger stand, husbands in tow, the picture crackles with amusement. Nunnally Johnson's screen play sparkles with witty dialogue which makes the comic situations all the more hilarious. Miss Monroe in the role of a myopic blonde who is blind as a bat without her glasses can't make up her mind between David Wayne, the owner of the apartment the girls sublet, and Alex D'Arcy, a dashing young man who never mentions a figure under a million. Betty vacillates between a tycoon, played by Fred Clark, and a forest ranger, Rory Calhoun, while Miss Bacall is torn between William Powell and Cameron Mitchell. How they solve their romantic and financial dilemmas furnishes" plenty of comedy and excitement.
In telling the story Director Jean Negulesdo made good use of his CinemaScope cameras. The New York City background with its fabulous skyline, Wall Street canyons and fascinating harbor has never been shown so vividly on the screen as the new anamorphic lens revealed it in How to Marry a Millionaire. When Betty Grable comes to New York from her New Jersey home on the ferry, the whistles of the puffing tug boats, the swish of incoming tides and the shrill squawks of sea gulls are so realistically reproduced through the use of stereophonic sound that one gets a real sense of participation. Among the many wonderful scenes in the picture, two deserve special mention here, the skiing sequence, filmed in Sun Valley and Maine, and the opulent fashion show.
Spread out as they are by the CinemaScope process both are breath-taking in their way. Women will love the lavish display of mink, silks and jewelry worn by the lovely models and men will get a particular thrill from the vast expanse of snow and mountains shown in Technicolor beauty on the panoramic screen. One can't help but comment about the wonderful new directional sound from the ingenious sound department at 20th Century Fox. When beautiful Marilyn walks from the right side of the screen to the left, one hears her voice follow her to that side of the theater. But the best use of the sound is the high fidelity stereo sound of the 20th Century Fox Orchestra. It is a pleasure to behold and one hopes that one day soon we can hear music in our home in true stereo sound. I was astonished.
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 with 57 episodes produced by National Telefilm for 20th Century Fox Television. It premiered on October 7, 1957 in Black and White, and was filmed at Stage 12 at the Fox studios. The series followed the exploits of three young ladies: Mike, Loco and Greta, as they tried to get themselves three rich husbands. They could hardly afford to eat but they managed to afford a penthouse apartment. The show did well in the ratings for the first season but dropped in the second when several of the characters were changed or deleted. Sadly, the series was never put into syndication nor released on video in any form. How innovative it would be for a company like Shout Factory to revive this on disc.
Nicole Kidman, on April 6, 2007 purchased the property rights to "How to Marry a Millionaire." The actress will produce the project through her Fox-based Blossom Films shingle as a potential starring vehicle. The screenplay will be a contemporary-set reinterpretation of the Marilyn Monroe classic. Plot details for the updated "Millionaire" are being kept under wraps, but it is described as a complete overhaul of the original story. The script is still in development from Blossom Films with 20th Century Fox set to distribute, but it is said that finally in June of this year a completed script is ready. Producers listed are Lisa Elzey, Nicole Kidman and Per Saari.
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