How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) Poster


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Lauren Bacall's character, Schatze, says, "I've always liked older men... Look at that old fellow what's-his-name in The African Queen (1951). Absolutely crazy about him." She is referring to Bacall's then real-life husband, Humphrey Bogart.
Hollywood legend has it that Marilyn Monroe, who had already rocked to major stardom in Gentleman Prefer Blondes(1953), was befriended during filming by Betty Grable, who offered Marilyn this encouragement: "Honey, I've had mine. Go get yours."
When Pola (Marilyn Monroe) is modeling the red swimsuit, the description given of the outfit is: "You know, of course, that diamonds are a girl's best friend." Marilyn Monroe sings the number 'Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend' in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), which was released the same year as this film.
This film was the final box-office bonanza in Betty Grable's 26-year movie career. According to a 1995 biography of Miss Grable, "The Girl With the Million Dollar Legs," written by Tom McGee, business would be fairly strong for Betty's next picture, Three for the Show (1955), but her last feature, How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955), was tagged, in Betty's own words, "a turkey."
According to Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe was a challenge to work with. It wasn't because she was unpleasant, but rather her insecurity and total dependence on her personal acting coach Natasha Lytess for approval. "Betty Grable was a funny, outgoing woman, totally professional and easy. Marilyn was frightened, insecure - trusted only her coach and was always late. During our scenes she'd look at my forehead instead of my eyes; at the end of a take, look to her coach, standing behind Jean Negulesco, for approval. If the headshake was no, she'd insist on another take. A scene often went to fifteen or more takes, which meant I'd have to be good in all of them as no one knew which one would be used. Not easy - often irritating. And yet I couldn't dislike Marilyn. She had no meanness in her - no bitchery. She just had to concentrate on herself and the people who were there only for her."
Writer and humorist Dorothy Parker's famous quip that "men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses" was purposely bobbled by screenwriter (and producer) Nunnally Johnson for Marilyn Monroe's character Pola to assert to David Wayne (as Freddie) that "you know, men are seldom attentive to girls who wear glasses."
This was 20th Century-Fox's first CinemaScope feature, however it was not released until after The Robe (1953).
Before becoming a major Hollywood success, Lauren Bacall worked as a model for several years of her teenage life while auditioning for roles on Broadway. The modeling she did is exactly like that of her character Ms. Paige, showing pieces for clients.
One of the first films to have its score recorded in stereo.
While Betty Grable receives top billing as the credits roll - a contractual promise made to her by 20th Century-Fox - Marilyn Monroe was promoted to first place in the trailer and poster art.
This film's plot is similar to The Greeks Had a Word for Them (1932), in which 15-year-old Betty Grable showed up briefly as a hatcheck girl, and also to Moon Over Miami (1941), one of Miss Grable's most popular Technicolor vehicles.
This was the first film telecast on "NBC Saturday Night at the Movies", 23 September 1961, the first television program to exclusively broadcast post-1948 theatrical films on US network television. Several of them, like this one, had been filmed in CinemaScope, at its original 2.55:1 ratio, and so had to be "formatted to fit your screen" i.e. shown pan/scan in the conventional 4:3 TV ratio, losing nearly half of the image in the process, and literally destroying the composition of each scene. But viewers didn't seem to mind. The idea proved so successful that NBC soon followed it up with another series with the identical format, "Monday Night at the Movies", and it wasn't long before the format was taken up by both CBS and ABC.
Alexander D'Arcy noticed the destructive nature of Marilyn Monroe's relationship with Natasha Lytess. "Natasha was really advising her badly, justifying her own presence on the set by requiring take after take and simply feeding on Marilyn's insecurity."
Nunnally Johnson took notice of Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable's generosity towards Marilyn Monroe. "The two Bettys have gone out of their way to help, and make friends with Marilyn, but Miss Monroe is generally something of a zombie. Talking to her is like talking to somebody underwater. She's very honest and ambitious and is either studying her lines or her face during all of her working hours, and there is nothing whatever to be said against her, but she's not material for warm friendship."
When Betty Grable listens to her then-husband Harry James on the radio in Maine, the song playing is "You'll Never Know," which then becomes the love theme for Miss Grable and Rory Calhoun. The Oscar-winning song of 1943 (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Mack Gordon) had been sung by Alice Faye in two musicals, Hello Frisco, Hello (1943) and Four Jills in a Jeep (1944), and then sung by Betty Grable in Diamond Horseshoe (1945), and also sung by Ginger Rogers in Dreamboat (1952).
According to Nunnally Johnson', Lauren Bacall (who was known as "Betty" to her friends) and Betty Grable became instant pals. "I don't think Betty Bacall and Betty Grable had ever met before," he said. "...But Betty Bacall fell in love with Grable and now thinks she's the funniest clown she ever had the pleasure of knowing. Which is not far from true. Miss Grable is a real hooligan, and is a fine salty, bawdy girl, without an ounce of pretense about her. In addition, she's giving a better performance than anything she ever did before."
In a gracious display of camaraderie, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable decided not to fight with Marilyn Monroe. "Grable and I decided we'd try to make it easier for her," said Bacall, "make her feel she could trust us. I think she finally did."
By all accounts, it was a happy set, which may have been a disappointment to the naysayers who were certain there would be competitive infighting among its three glamorous stars. According to Nunnally Johnson, "The three girls are a good story. Everybody went around with their fingers in their ears blabbering about what temperament there would be on the set, and needless to say, the gossip columnists, those lice, have done everything possible to foment trouble for us. They've printed all kinds of mischievous rumors, quoting one against the other, and printing out fictitious privileges given to one above the other two, in the most desperate effort you ever saw to create feuds. But it hasn't worked in the least."
In one scene, the three women are talking to each other about who they would like to marry. Pola (Marilyn Monroe) says she would like to marry "Mr. Cadillac" and Schatze (Lauren Bacall) replies, "No such person, I checked." However there was a Mr. Cadillac. He was the French Governor of Canada and founded the city of Detroit. In 1710, he was named the Governor of Louisiana. The Cadillac was named after him and his surname lives on in the form of his descendants.
In her 1979 memoir By Myself, Lauren Bacall recalled what it was like to work with the new CinemaScope technology. "As CinemaScope was a new experiment for everyone, it was difficult. One had to keep the actors moving and not too close together, as the screen was long and narrow. You shot longer scenes in CinemaScope, five or six pages without a stop, and I liked that - it felt closer to the stage and better for me."
Signed to Twentieth Century-Fox since October 25, 1939, Betty Grable informed the studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck during production that she would not commit to the remaining three years of her latest contract. On June 3, 1953, a studio press release announced the official split. Returning only once to Fox, Betty would star in How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955), a vehicle in which Marilyn refused to appear and was replaced by Sheree North. Two unfulfilled proposals to have Miss Grable film again at Fox were the mother role (subsequently played by Ginger Rogers) in Teenage Rebel (1956) and then in 1964, another mom part in a project ultimately canceled named "High Heels."
Although Waldo Brewster, played by character actor Fred Clark, is supposed to be much older than Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable), Clark was, in reality, only two years older than Grable.
This film features approximately 254 shots over 88 minutes of action. Thus on average each shot lasts about 21 seconds. This is quite high, even for 1953.
The success of the film made its impact in many ways. It helped make an auspicious introduction for Fox's CinemaScope process to audiences and usher in a new era of widescreen entertainment. Lauren Bacall was able to prove that she could indeed play comedy with panache, and it opened a whole new avenue in her illustrious career that made her just as in demand for comedies on stage and screen as she was for drama. Betty Grable, Fox's long-reigning Queen of the Lot, was able to leave the studio on a high note at the end of her long run, taking with her some of the best reviews of her life. She would return to make just one more film for Fox - this time as a free agent - in How to Be Very, Very Popular (1955).
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The on-screen orchestra at the beginning plays music that was composed by Alfred Newman for the 1931 film Street Scene (1931). The music was also used in 20th Century-Fox's I Wake Up Screaming (1941), also with Betty Grable, and in Gentleman's Agreement (1947).
The theme for Betty Grable and her husband the forest ranger was "You'll Never Know" (music was written by Harry Warren and the lyrics by Mack Gordon) which was introduces by Alice Faye in the movie Hello Frisco, Hello (1943) and it won the Oscar (R) for the Best Song. Betty Grable replaced Alice Faye as 20th Entury Fox's blonde comedy star. In this picture Marilyn Monroe became their blonde comedy star surpassing Betty.
How To Marry A Millionaire was the fourth highest grossing Hollywood film of 1953.
As the film was close to wrapping up production, everyone was confident that the filming had gone well and that they had made a delightful film. "We'll be through with the picture early next week and what I've seen of it looks pretty good in this new CinemaScope, wrote Nunnally Johnson in a letter to a friend. "It's a larkish story, the girls look very beautiful, and its purpose is to see if something indoors and with just two or three people can look good on the new wide screen."
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Zoe Akins's play, "The Greeks Had a Word for It," opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 25 September 1930 and closed in May 1931 after 253 performances. The opening night cast included Verree Teasdale, Muriel Kirkland and Dorothy Hall. Dale Eunson's and Katherine Albert's play, "Loco," opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 16 October 1946 and closed on 16 November 1946 after 37 performances. The opening night cast included Jean Parker as Loco. Parts of this play were added to beef up Betty Grable's part in the movie.
Despite the fact that three of Hollywood's most popular actresses were billed together on the same screen, the three got along surprisingly well on the set. In fact, when a photo shoot was getting ready to happen, Betty Grable noticed that Marilyn Monroe's toe nails needed painting. So, wanting Monroe to look her best, Grable took some of her own polish and painted Marylin's toenails herself.
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During the exterior shots at the beginning of the movie, the camera pans up to a street sign that reads "Sutton Place" outside the building where the girls rent their apartment. Marilyn Monroe actually lived at 2 Sutton Place on the Upper East Side. She shared a penthouse apartment there with her husband, playwright Arthur Miller. Their apartment was recently listed for sale in June of 2016 with an asking price of $6.75 million.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

On the plane, Pola is reading a book called "Murder By Strangulation" which is how Marilyn Monroe's character Rose Loomis meets her demise in Niagara (1953).

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