How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

95-96 mins | Comedy | November 1953

Full page view
HISTORY

The film begins with an almost six-minute sequence showing Alfred Newman conducting the Twentieth Century-Fox Symphony Orchestra as it plays part of the well-known score he wrote for the 1931 United Artists release Street Scene (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ). At the completion of the song, the opening credits of the film begin, and the orchestra briefly appears again at the end of the picture. As noted by contemporary sources, the sequence was included to demonstrate the versatility of CinemaScope and stereophonic sound. How to Marry a Millionaire was Twentieth Century-Fox's second CinemaScope release, although it had completed production before The Robe , which was released first (see below).
       According to modern sources, George Cukor suggested to Lauren Bacall that she persuade Twentieth Century-Fox production chief Darryl F. Zanuck to purchase the rights to Zoë Akins' play The Greeks Had a Word for It . Producer-writer Nunnally Johnson then added elements of the Dale Eunson-Katherine Albert play Loco to build up Betty Grable's role. Although studio publicity announced that production manager Gaston Glass's teenage son Paul would be making his screen debut in the film as a piano player, his appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. HR news items include George Dunn and Donald Kerr in the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. A Jan 1953 HR news item includes Larry Keating in the cast, but he was not in the released picture.
       There are several "inside" jokes in the film, among them, the fashion show sequence, when Marilyn Monroe's ... More Less

The film begins with an almost six-minute sequence showing Alfred Newman conducting the Twentieth Century-Fox Symphony Orchestra as it plays part of the well-known score he wrote for the 1931 United Artists release Street Scene (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ). At the completion of the song, the opening credits of the film begin, and the orchestra briefly appears again at the end of the picture. As noted by contemporary sources, the sequence was included to demonstrate the versatility of CinemaScope and stereophonic sound. How to Marry a Millionaire was Twentieth Century-Fox's second CinemaScope release, although it had completed production before The Robe , which was released first (see below).
       According to modern sources, George Cukor suggested to Lauren Bacall that she persuade Twentieth Century-Fox production chief Darryl F. Zanuck to purchase the rights to Zoë Akins' play The Greeks Had a Word for It . Producer-writer Nunnally Johnson then added elements of the Dale Eunson-Katherine Albert play Loco to build up Betty Grable's role. Although studio publicity announced that production manager Gaston Glass's teenage son Paul would be making his screen debut in the film as a piano player, his appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. HR news items include George Dunn and Donald Kerr in the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. A Jan 1953 HR news item includes Larry Keating in the cast, but he was not in the released picture.
       There are several "inside" jokes in the film, among them, the fashion show sequence, when Marilyn Monroe's character, "Pola," appears in a diamond-encrusted bathing suit and the mistress of the fashion house states that "diamonds are a girl's best friend," a reference to Monroe's hit film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes . Pola's complaint that "men aren't attentive to girls who wear glasses" is a play on the famous Dorothy Parker quip "men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses." While "Loco" is in Maine with "Waldo," they listen to the radio and she insists that the musician playing is Harry James, who in real life was married to Grable. When "Schatze" attempts to persuade "J. D." that she prefers older men, she lists "that guy who was in The African Queen " as one of her crushes. The star of that film, Humphrey Bogart, was married to Bacall.
       Some modern sources incorrectly state that Monroe receives top billing over Grable in the onscreen credits, although Monroe did receive first billing in the film's trailer and advertising. It was the first time since 1941 that Grable did not receive top billing in advertisements for one of her films, according to modern sources. How to Marry a Millionaire was Grable's last contract film for Twentieth Century-Fox, to which she had been under contract since 1936. According to a Jul 1953 HR news item, the "amicably agreed" split came after "a series of disputes" during which Grable was put on suspension for refusing various roles assigned to her. Grable did appear in the studio's 1955 production How to Be Very, Very Popular , but as a freelance artist.
       According to HR news items, background sequences for the film were shot in New York City and Sun Valley, ID. Charles LeMaire and Travilla received an Academy Award nomination for Best Costume Design (Color) for their work on How to Marry a Millionaire . The film, which garnered excellent reviews, was a smash hit and grossed approximately eight million dollars worldwide, according to modern sources. According to an Apr 1954 Var news item, New York City resident Eveyln Paige filed a libel and invasion-of-privacy suit against Twentieth Century-Fox, because of similarities between the character of "Schatze Page" and herself. The outcome of the suit has not been determined.
       Akins' play The Greeks Had a Word for It was also used as the basis for the 1932 United Artists release The Greeks Had a Word for Them , directed by Lowell Sherman and starring Joan Blondell, Ina Claire and Madge Evans. According to modern sources, Grable appeared in the 1932 production in a bit role as a showgirl. The 1953 film was the basis of a 1957--1958 syndicated television series entitled How To Marry a Millionaire , which starred Barbara Eden, Lori Nelson and Merry Anders (who appears in the film as a model). In 2000, Fox Television announced plans for a comedy series entitled How to Marry a Billionaire , in which three male roommates would try to find a rich wife. Although some modern sources state that films such as Working Girls , Three Blind Mice , Moon Over Miami and Three Little Girls in Blue are based on the same sources as How to Marry a Millionaire , they are not. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Nov 53
p. 24.
Box Office
14 Nov 1953.
---
Daily Variety
5 Nov 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Nov 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Aug 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 53
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 53
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 53
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Mar 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Apr 53
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 53
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 53
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 53
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 53
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 53
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Nov 53
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 53
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Nov 53
p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Dec 53
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1954
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Mar 1954
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Apr 1954
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1954
p. 1.
Los Angeles Daily News
5 Nov 1953.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Nov 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Nov 53
p. 2070.
New York Times
25 Apr 1953.
---
New York Times
11 Nov 53
p. 37.
New York Times
15 Nov 1953.
---
New Yorker
21 Nov 1953.
---
Newsweek
16 Nov 1953.
---
Pix
2 Jan 1954.
---
Variety
11 Nov 53
p. 6.
Variety
7 Apr 1954.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Key grip
Cable man
Stills
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup
Makeup asst
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Asst prod mgr
Unit casting dir
Casting
Unit pub
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the plays The Greeks Had a Word for It by Zoë Akins (New York, 25 Sep 1930) and Loco by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert (New York, 16 Oct 1946).
MUSIC
The Twentieth Century-Fox Symphony Orchestra's "Street Scene," composed and conducted by Alfred Newman.
SONGS
"New York," music and lyrics by Alfred Newman and Ken Darby.
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1953
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 4 November 1953
New York premiere: 10 November 1953
Production Date:
9 March--mid April 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
4 November 1953
Copyright Number:
LP3269
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
95-96
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16443
SYNOPSIS

Canny couturier model Schatze Page leases a posh New York City apartment owned by Freddie Denmark, a businessman "on the lam" from the Internal Revenue Service because of overdue taxes, and calls her friend, Pola Debevoise, to inform her that the deal is set. Pola, who vainly refuses to wear her glasses, despite being "blind as a bat," arrives and persuades Schatze to invite fellow model Loco Dempsey to live with them, though she has only a quarter. Instructed to bring lunch, Loco arrives with several bags of groceries carried by Tom Brookman, who paid for her food when Loco pretended to have forgotten her wallet. Although Tom is immediately taken with Schatze, she ushers him out and opines that a man met at the coldcuts counter is not as attractive as one met at the mink department in Bergdorf Goodman. Schatze then tells Loco that she and Pola have taken the apartment in order to find rich husbands, and that after divorcing a "gas pump jockey," she now wants to live in luxury. Impressed with Schatze's scheme, Loco and Pola agree, but after three months, none of the women have become engaged and Schatze has to sell the furniture to pay the rent. One afternoon, Loco comes home with another gentleman bearing boxes, J. D. Hanley, and despite the fact that J. D. is middle-aged, Schatze flirts with him upon learning that Loco met him in the mink department at "Bergdorf's." J. D. invites the women to a reception that night, and afterward, the women accompany their dates to a restaurant. Pola is escorted by J. Stewart Merrill, an eye-patch wearing "Arab" ... +


Canny couturier model Schatze Page leases a posh New York City apartment owned by Freddie Denmark, a businessman "on the lam" from the Internal Revenue Service because of overdue taxes, and calls her friend, Pola Debevoise, to inform her that the deal is set. Pola, who vainly refuses to wear her glasses, despite being "blind as a bat," arrives and persuades Schatze to invite fellow model Loco Dempsey to live with them, though she has only a quarter. Instructed to bring lunch, Loco arrives with several bags of groceries carried by Tom Brookman, who paid for her food when Loco pretended to have forgotten her wallet. Although Tom is immediately taken with Schatze, she ushers him out and opines that a man met at the coldcuts counter is not as attractive as one met at the mink department in Bergdorf Goodman. Schatze then tells Loco that she and Pola have taken the apartment in order to find rich husbands, and that after divorcing a "gas pump jockey," she now wants to live in luxury. Impressed with Schatze's scheme, Loco and Pola agree, but after three months, none of the women have become engaged and Schatze has to sell the furniture to pay the rent. One afternoon, Loco comes home with another gentleman bearing boxes, J. D. Hanley, and despite the fact that J. D. is middle-aged, Schatze flirts with him upon learning that Loco met him in the mink department at "Bergdorf's." J. D. invites the women to a reception that night, and afterward, the women accompany their dates to a restaurant. Pola is escorted by J. Stewart Merrill, an eye-patch wearing "Arab" who brags about his money, while Loco is accompanied by Waldo Brewster, a rich businessman who complains about his wife. While Schatze genuinely begins to enjoy J. D.'s company, Brewster mentions his lodge in Maine, and Loco, mistakenly assuming that he means an Elks Lodge, agrees to accompany him there. That night, Schatze dreams of spending J. D.'s money, while Pola dreams of being showered with jewels in Arabia, and Loco dreams of a hot dog and a beer. Meanwhile, Tom becomes frustrated by Schatze's refusals to date him because she thinks he is a "gas pump jockey." Unknown to Schatze, Tom is a multi-millionaire, and one day, asks her boss, Mr. Antoine, to show him clothes to purchase for his aunt. Loco and Pola are pleased to see Tom, but Schatze is annoyed by his nerve and attempts to tell Antoine that Tom is conning him. Soon after, Loco travels with Waldo to Maine, and there is aghast to discover that Waldo's lodge is just a house. The annoyed Waldo tells Eben Salem, a forest ranger who met them at the train station, that they will be returning to New York, but Loco begins to feel ill and is diagnosed with measles. While Loco rests, Schatze continues to date J. D. in New York. One evening, elevator operator Mike sneaks Freddie into the apartment so that he can recover a document that could resolve his financial dilemma. Freddie is forced to hide on the balcony, however, when Schatze and J. D. return from a date and J. D. announces that he is returning to Dallas. When Schatze protests that she prefers older men, J. D. proclaims that their marriage would be wonderful for him but disasterous for her, and as a farewell present, buys back the apartment's furniture. Schatze's dismay is heightened by the news that Pola is engaged to Stewart, who is taking Pola is to Atlantic City "to meet his mother." Schatze's concerns are borne out when Stewart phones Pola with flight times, and unknown to her, lifts up his eye patch to read the schedule. Fortunately for Pola, her bad vision causes her to board a plane bound for Kansas City, and she sits next to Freddie, who finally succeeded in retrieving his papers. Despite Pola's fears that "men aren't attentive to girls who wear glasses," Freddie, who also wears glasses, assures her that her glasses make her look even more beautiful. The couple cuddles during the plane ride, and Freddie explains that his accountant cashed his IRS payment himself, instead of sending it to the government, and that he is going to Kansas City to confront him. Meanwhile, in Maine, Loco has recovered from the measles, which have now felled Waldo, and has fallen in love with Eben, who is chagrined to realize that Loco thought he actually owned the forest that he supervises. Waldo and Loco drive back to New York, but along the way, are stopped on the George Washington Bridge and photographed as the fifty millionth couple to cross it, thereby destroying Waldo's carefully crafted alibi to deceive his wife about his trip. Weeks later, Schatze wonders where Loco and Pola have gone and is again forced to sell the furniture. She finally succumbs to Tom's request for a date, although she harps on his lack of money and states that she never wants to see him again. Despite her resolve, Schatze continues to see Tom and falls in love with him. When J. D. returns to propose to her, though she quickly accepts. On her wedding day, Schatze paces nervously and is surprised when Loco appears and announces that she returned to Maine and married Eben. Schatze is disappointed to learn that Eben is poor, but Loco assures her that they are in love. Pola also appears and introduces Freddie, to whom she is now married, although he, too, is without funds. Schatze grandly informs them that J. D. is worth a fortune, but as the wedding ceremony begins, Schatze fakes an ankle injury and asks J. D. to help her to the bedroom. There, Schatze tells J. D. that he is too nice to marry someone who does not love him, and he guesses that she is in love with someone else. Schatze reluctantly admits that she has fallen for Tom, and J. D., who knows that Tom is even wealthier than he, does not disclose Tom's secret. Soon after, Schatze has married Tom, and the three couples go to a diner to celebrate. As the women joke about how much their husbands are worth, Tom states that he is worth approximately two-hundred-million dollars. They all laugh until Tom pulls out a thick wad of $1,000 bills to pay the check, and after their wives have fainted, the husbands drink a toast to them. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.