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How to Marry a Millionaire
Original film poster
Directed by Jean Negulesco
Produced by Nunnally Johnson
Written by Nunnally Johnson
Zoe Akins (play)
Dale Eunson (play)
Katherine Albert (play)
Starring Betty Grable
Music by Cyril J. Mockridge, composer
Alfred Newman, direction
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald
Editing by Louis R. Loeffler
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Release date(s) November 5, 1953
Running time 95 minutes
How to Marry a Millionaire is a 1953 romantic comedy film made by 20th Century Fox, directed by Jean Negulesco and produced and written by Nunnally Johnson. The screenplay was based on the plays The Greeks Had a Word for It by Zoe Akins and Loco by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert. The music score was by Alfred Newman and the cinematography by Joseph MacDonald. The costume design was by Travilla.
The film stars Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grable as fortune hunters with William Powell, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell, Alexander D"Arcy, and Fred Clark.
How to Marry a Millionaire was the first film ever to be photographed in the new CinemaScope wide-screen process, and the second released, after The Robe.
Resourceful Schatze Page (Lauren Bacall), spunky Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable) and ditsy Pola Debevoise (Marilyn Monroe) rent a luxurious Sutton Place penthouse from Freddie Denmark (David Wayne), who is avoiding the IRS by living in Europe. The women plan to use it to attract and marry millionaires. When money is tight, Schatze pawns some of Freddie"s furniture, without his knowledge of course; as winter approaches, the furnishings gradually vanish.
One day, Loco carries in some groceries, assisted by Tom Brookman (Cameron Mitchell). Tom is very interested in Schatze, but she knows from prior marital experience what he is — a "gas pump jockey" — and tries repeatedly to brush him off, without success. She has her sights on bigger game: the charming, classy widower J.D. Hanley (William Powell) whose worth is irreproachably large. All the while she"s stalking the older J.D., Tom keeps after her. After every one of their dates, she tells him she never wants to see him again. She refuses to marry a poor man again.
Meanwhile, Loco (Grable) becomes acquainted with a grumpy businessman (Fred Clark). He"s married, but she agrees to go with him to his "lodge" in Maine, mistakenly thinking she"s going to meet a bunch of Elks Club members. When she learns the truth, she wants nothing to do with his plans. Fortunately, he comes down with the measles. She stays and nurses him back to health, with the help of a strapping young man named Eben (Rory Calhoun), who she thinks owns most of the surrounding land. She has no trouble transferring her affections to the handsome outdoorsman and they become engaged. When she finds out that he"s just a forest ranger, guarding against fires on "his" land, she is very disappointed, but she loves him and is willing to overlook his financial shortcomings.
The third member of the group, Pola (Monroe), is hilariously nearsighted, but hates to wear her glasses where any man might see her. As she puts it, "Men aren"t attentive to girls who wear glasses." (a takeoff of Dorothy Parker"s "Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.") She falls for a phony Arab oil tycoon, not knowing he"s really a crooked speculator. Luckily, when she takes a plane to meet him, she misreads an airport sign and ends up on the wrong plane. She sits next to a man, also wearing glasses, who thinks she"s "quite a strudel" and encourages her to put hers on. It turns out that he is the mysterious Freddie Denmark; he is on his way to Kansas City to find the crooked accountant who got him into trouble with the IRS. He doesn"t have much luck when he tracks the man down (he gets beaten up), but has much more success with Pola.
Loco and Pola are reunited with Schatze just before her wedding. She finally managed to overcome J.D."s qualms about their age difference. Tom shows up and is recognized by the groom. It turns out that Tom is by far the richer of the two men. J.D. has an inkling how things are going to turn out, so he is not too surprised when Schatze finds herself unable to go through with the wedding because she doesn"t love him. J.D. leaves graciously and Schatze, against her better judgement, ends up marrying Tom.
Afterwards, the three happy couples end up at a greasy spoon, dining on hamburgers. Tom breaks the news to Schatze that he is extremely wealthy, naming all the things he owns, but she thinks he"s kidding. He then pays the bill, pulling out an enormous wad of money. The three women faint dead away. The men then drink a toast to their unconscious wives.