Monday, 15 February 2016
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
This boxed set describes How to Marry a Millionaire as "one of the finest comedic performances" of Marilyn Monroe's career. Which I think is over-selling it.
I'm not suggesting Monroe isn't good in the film. She is. But it's a paper-thin role that plays third fiddle in the script. Frankly, she could do it with her eyes closed. And given that the main "gag" they have with her character is that she's blind as a bat but won't wear glasses, it's quite possible that's exactly how she did play it.
Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable play three models in search of wealthy husbands. They rent an upscale, furnished apartment belonging to a businessman who has fled the country due to tax irregularities, figuring that there is more chance of meeting wealthy men if they live in wealthy surroundings. To pay for the rent, they sell the furnishings.
If you're thinking "that seems like a rather dishonest thing to do", then welcome to the central dichotomy of the film. For all that it's as light and frothy as the most delicate soufflé, underneath it all this is often a rather mean-spirited script.
This film naturally draws comparison with Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. They were released in the same year, share a star in Marilyn Monroe, and both explore the theme of marrying for love as opposed to marrying for money. Unfortunately for How to Marry a Millionaire, it's not a comparison from which it emerges well.