Wednesday, August 23, 2006

How to Marry a Millionaire

Cinematical has dubbed How to Marry a Millionaire a guilty pleasure. It's a pleasure that I don't think anyone has to feel guilty about. Three glorious stars, Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable, and Marilyn Monroe play models who cook up a plan to find and marry wealthy men, and all three spend some time with Mr. Wrong before finding their Mr. Rights. There are only two things wrong with it. First, the movie made great use of the then brand-new technology of Cinemascope, taking up all of the wide screen, so it really suffers on television unless it's letterboxed. Second, the leading lady marries the wrong guy. SPOILER ALERT: Bacall almost marries wealthy widower William Powell, assuring him that she's crazy about older men: "Look at Roosevelt, look at Churchill, look at old fella what's his name in The African Queen." (That would be Bacall's real-life husband, Humphrey Bogart.) Instead she ends up with Cameron Mitchell. Nope. Don't buy it for a minute.

By the way, this was not the first time this story was filmed. The first version was in pre-Hayes-Code 1932, with the spicy title, "The Greeks Had a Word for Them" and had Joan Blondell as the ringleader of a trio of ladies who were very well taken care of by their beaux. Like the Bacall/Grable/Monroe version, the ladies were very well dressed. The costumes were designed by Chanel. Loretta Young and her two sisters schemed to find rich husbands in 1938's "Three Blind Mice." Grable herself appeared in another earlier version called Moon Over Miami. There's even a Hong Kong version from 1960 and a late 1950's television series with a pre-Jeannie Barbara Eden in the role played by Monroe. It was updated as a made for TV movie in 2000 called "How to Marry a Billionaire," and this time the gold-diggers were...guys: John Stamos, West Wing's Joshua Malina, and Diary of a Mad Black Woman's Shemar Moore.

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