Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Comedy,Drama,Romance Rated: How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

Rated: How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

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“Now all we gotta do, is one of us has to catch a bear!”

Since her death 40 years ago, Marilyn Monroe has become a legendary cultural icon and arguably the most celebrated actress of all time. In her short 15 year acting career she was featured in a good number of films, yet only a handful of those films went on to transcend their contemporary pop-culture status. Therefore, Marilyn Monroe is a enigma among Hollywood starlets; she is famous and well-known for her lifestyle and the way she lived more so than any of her work as an actress. How to Marry a Millionaire is an excellent example of this.

By no means is this film a groundbreaking revelation of pop culture artistry, although the style and costumes are top-notch. It’s cute, fun, and light, but that’s about it. Marilyn Monroe has to share her screen time with 2 other women, and even then her role never seems like more than a supporting one. Her character is perhaps the most memorable, but only because of the use of slapstick comedy. I think you are seeing where I am headed here. This is one of Marilyn Monroe’s best known films, yet it doesn’t really seem all that special or unique.

That’s not to say that this film isn’t fun to watch. It is. Even more so considering that the Sex In The City-like topics it discusses would have been downright outrageous in the 1950’s. Plus, it is well structured and has numerous parts that I wouldn’t hesitate to call funny, even if the acting is rather tame. In short, this is an excellent look at mainstream 1950’s cinema that, when looking back from today’s sex-inundated state of society, doesn’t seem as edgy as perhaps it was in 1953. But then again, with Marilyn Monroe’s expanding post-mortem influence, this film has found another reason to become relative and edgy yet again.

Story: Three women purchase an expensive apartment with the goal of attracting rich men. They live their lives with one goal in mind; to get married to a rich guy. In pursuit of this goal, the girls find themselves in several crazy adventures, only to find that they were selling themselves short of true happiness in the process… Okay (16/25)

Acting: Despite the way that this film may be promoted, Lauren Bacall is the lead lady. Her character is the brains behind the operation, and as a result she is perhaps the least likable. Her actions seem stiff even though she is a commanding presence. Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe play the other two women, each with a little bit of a personality. Monroe’s character is aloof and insecure, but she makes the character likable with her honesty and her emotion. Grable is often obnoxious, which is funny at times but annoying at others. The rest of the cast is charming and fun, and they suit their purposes well as reality anchors which keep the girls grounded. Okay (18/25)

Direction: Jean Negulesco directs, and he has a lot of experience. He shows a real sense of style and sophistication. The film moves forward with a brisk pace, which is good considering that there are three story lines to explore. The feel of the film is light and airy, not a lot to really think about. The director understands this and that means that his focus is on enhancing the audience’s enjoyment rather than on petty details. The bizarre opening credits are the only real gaff, going on far too long compared to the pace of the rest of the movie. Good (20/25)

X-Factor: Perhaps there was a time that this film was known for its slightly taboo subject matter, but to today’s audiences it is rather tame. Today it is best known as showcasing Marylyn Monroe’s comedic talents. It succeeds in this regard even if she is not really the focus of the story for a majority of the film. It’s an interesting look at 50’s cultural behaviors and the way that Monroe fit (or didn’t fit) into them. Okay (17/25)

Rating: (71/100) = C- (Okay)

  • What’s Good: A light and carefree comedy that is not your typical rom-com. It has historical importance as a well-rounded glimpse into the career of Marilyn Monroe.
  • What’s Bad: There’s not too much substance here, time has watered down its ideas, and you pretty much know how it will end as soon as it starts.

Summary: It’s all about Marilyn Monroe, even if it isn’t all about Marilyn Monroe. 

My previous review: Rated: Everything Must Go (2010)

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