Thursday, 14 August 2014

How to marry a millionaire (3 Stars)

After hearing about Lauren Bacall's death I decided to watch at least one of her films, preferably one I hadn't seen before. It's amazing that out of her more than 50 films only six are available on Netflix. As you probably know, her main films were made in the 1940's and 1950's. In later films she only played minor roles, for instance Paul Sheldon's agent in "Misery". Of the six films carried by Netflix, only one of her classic films is included, namely "How to marry a millionaire" from 1953. Marilyn Monroe was given the main billing as the most famous actress of the time, and even today the DVD releases only show Marilyn on the cover, but it's obvious on watching the film that she's just a supporting actress.

Schatze Page (Lauren Bacall), Pola Debevoise (Marilyn Monroe) and Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable) are three young models in New York. After being divorced from a poor man who worked in a gas station Schatze wants to make a new start. She's determined to marry a millionaire. Preferably an older man, so that he'll die and leave her the money. To make sure that she meets the right sort of people, she moves into a luxury penthouse apartment with Pola and Loco. Even with the three of them contributing towards the rent it's still too expensive, so Schatze sells the apartment's furniture (which doesn't belong to her).

Even though Pola and Loco are in on the plan, they're not as focussed. Schatze introduces them to rich old millionaires, but they prefer handsome young men. Ironically, Schatze has to fight off the advances of a sloppily dressed young man, not realising that he's one of the richest men in the city.

Which one would you marry? Tough choice.

For me, when I think of Lauren Bacall I associate her with Hollywood's film noir period. To me she was the ultimate femme fatale of the 1940's. "How to marry a millionaire" is very different. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy it very much. It was promoted as a comedy, but apart from the slapstick scenes centred around Pola being short sighted I didn't find it funny. The film seems to be more about presenting eye candy to the audience. For instance, the scene where the three girls are modelling various outfits in a New York store is unnecessarily long. Maybe I'll watch a more typical Lauren Bacall film in the next few days.

Lauren Bacall
September 16, 1924 – August 12, 2014

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