Charylee writes about 1953 romantic comedy How To Marry A Millionaire, directed by Jean Negulesco and starring Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable.
It was the movie To Have and To Have Not, starring the incomparable Humphrey Bogart alongside his soon to be wife Lauren Bacall, that made me completely and utterly mesmerized by her. That deep, husky, provocative voice combined with that “look” she would flash at Bogey would make anyone melt; male or female. She played a handful of roles alongside him, usually acting as his partner in crime, his right hand, his love interest. Lauren portrayed the “tough girl” and it was that persona that made Bogey fall head over heels for her. So when I began watching more of her films and How to Marry a Millionaire was up next in the playlist, I had to wonder how that character she often played would fit in with actresses like Monroe and Grable; I was pleasantly surprised.
Let’s set the tone here…
Three drop-dead gorgeous models are single and living in New York City, looking for love. Well, maybe not LOVE…more like looking for money but love would be a bonus. Schatz Page (Bacall) falls right into character as the boss, the leader. She reminds me almost of a den mother if you will. Monroe, who plays the clueless and nearly blind Pola DeBevoise, was an expected character. I assumed, before even seeing the film, that she would play the role of the ditzy blonde; one she did often. Then there was the sexy pinup Betty Grable, as Loco Dempsey, who brought some pizazz and spark to the trio. She always had a way to get what she wanted, and she did it well. The three megastars of the big screen were almost too big for the new cinema-scope they shot it in. But, their chemistry worked in a way I never saw coming.
As the story goes, the three beauties are broke; no money and no prospects. Schatz sparks the interest early on of a swooner who Loco introduces her to, but she has no interest in him. He makes many appearances throughout the film trying persistently to make a date with her, always being turned away. Meanwhile, Pola and Loco are doing their best to find a man themselves. The quirky way about the ladies and the measures they take to find the man of their bank account’s dream are charming and cheeky. Just when you think they’ve finally struck gold, it ends up becoming a flop. Loco leaves for a weekend getaway with a married man, and Pola is smitten for a self-proclaimed millionaire who is really more talk than he is zeros in his bank account. And what about Schatz? Well, she is still trying to fight off her suitor from the beginning of the film thinking he’s nothing more than a gas jockey. As the ladies sort through men and attempt to find the means to survive from day to day, each of their love interest storylines unfold in ways you never thought they would.
It’s difficult for me to be critical of this spectacular. To some, it’s just another love story with a happy ending. Single girl finds a guy, he falls in love with a girl and sweeps her off her feet; they live happily ever after. But that story times three plus a trio of the most beautiful and well-known actresses of the era equals something more than your average fairy tale.
How to Marry a Millionaire is a delightful romantic comedy for the ages. Maybe, just maybe you and I could take a few things from the girls and apply them to dating in the 21st century. I think it could work.