How to Marry a Millionaire

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How to Marry a Millionaire
How to Marry a Millionaire.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jean Negulesco
Produced by Nunnally Johnson
Screenplay byNunnally Johnson
Based onThe Greeks Had a Word for It
by Zoë Akins
by Dale Eunson
Katherine Albert
Starring Marilyn Monroe
Betty Grable
Lauren Bacall
William Powell
Music by Cyril J. Mockridge (composer)
Alfred Newman (direction)
Cinematography Joseph MacDonald
Edited by Louis R. Loeffler
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • November 5, 1953 (1953-11-05)(United States)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.9 million [1]
Box office$8 million [2]

How to Marry a Millionaire is a 1953 American romantic comedy film directed by Jean Negulesco and written and produced by Nunnally Johnson. The screenplay was based on the plays The Greeks Had a Word for It (1930) by Zoë Akins and Loco (1946) by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert.


The film stars Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, and Lauren Bacall as three gold diggers, along with William Powell, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, and Cameron Mitchell as their wealthy marks. Although Grable received top billing in the screen credits, Monroe's name was listed first in all advertising, including the trailer.

Made by 20th Century Fox, How to Marry a Millionaire was the studio's first film to be shot in the new CinemaScope wide-screen sound process, although it was the second CinemaScope film released by Fox after the biblical epic film The Robe (also 1953).

How to Marry a Millionaire was also the first 1960s color and CinemaScope film ever to be shown on prime-time network television, though panned-and-scanned, when it was presented as the first film on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies on September 23, 1961. [3]

The soundtrack to How to Marry a Millionaire was released on CD by Film Score Monthly on March 15, 2001.


Monroe as Pola, Grable as Loco, and Bacall as Schatze Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire trailer.jpg
Monroe as Pola, Grable as Loco, and Bacall as Schatze

Resourceful Schatze Page, spunky Loco Dempsey, and ditzy Pola Debevoise rent a luxurious Sutton Place penthouse in New York City from Freddie Denmark, who is avoiding the IRS by living in Europe. The women plan to use the apartment to attract rich men and marry them. When money is tight, Schatze pawns some of Freddie's furniture, without his knowledge. To their dismay, as winter approaches, the furnishings continue to be sold off as they have no luck.

One day, Loco carries in some groceries, assisted by Tom Brookman. Tom is very interested in Schatze, but she dismisses him, thinking he is poor. She tries repeatedly to brush him off as she sets her sights on the charming, classy widower J.D. Hanley, whose worth is irreproachably large. All the while she is stalking the older J.D., Tom, who is actually very wealthy, keeps after her. After every single one of their dates, she tells him she never wants to see him again as she refuses to marry a poor man again.

Pola being romanced by a phony tycoon, played by Alexander D'Arcy Alexander D'Arcy and Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire trailer.jpg
Pola being romanced by a phony tycoon, played by Alexander D'Arcy

Meanwhile, Loco becomes acquainted with a grumpy businessman, Walter Brewster. He is married, but she agrees to go with him to his lodge in Maine, mistakenly thinking she is going to meet a bunch of Elks Club members. When they arrive, Loco is disappointed to find that the businessman was hoping to have an affair with her and set them up in a dingy lodge instead of the glamorous one she was expecting. She attempts to leave, but has to stay due to the train not running till the next day and comes down with the measles. After Loco recovers, Walter (Clark) comes down with the measles and has to stay in the lodge until cured. He is nursed back to health with the help of Loco.

Loco meets Evan Salem, who she thinks owns most of the surrounding land. She has no trouble transferring her affections to the handsome outdoorsman and they become engaged. When she finds out that he is just a forest ranger, she is very disappointed, but Loco realizes that she loves him and is willing to overlook his financial shortcomings.

William Powell as J.D. Hanley prepares to marry Schatze, with Loco and Pola as bridesmaids. William Powell, Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe in How to Marry a Millionaire trailer.jpg
William Powell as J.D. Hanley prepares to marry Schatze, with Loco and Pola as bridesmaids.

The third member of the group, Pola, has myopia, but hates to wear her glasses in the presence of men; as she puts it, "Men aren't attentive to girls who wear glasses." She falls for a phony Arab oil tycoon, J. Stewart Merrill, not knowing he is actually a crooked speculator. Luckily, when she takes a plane from LaGuardia Airport to meet him, she ends up on the wrong plane. A man sits next to her, also wearing glasses, who thinks she is "quite a strudel" and encourages her to put hers on. It turns out that he is the mysterious Freddie Denmark on his way to Kansas City to find the crooked accountant who got him into trouble with the IRS. He does not have much luck when he tracks the man down, but he and Pola fall in love and get married.

Loco and Pola are reunited with Schatze just before her wedding to J.D. Schatze finds herself unable to go through with the wedding and confesses to J.D. that she is in love with Tom. He understands and agrees to call off the wedding. Tom is among the wedding attendees and the two reconcile and marry, with Schatze still not knowing he is rich.

Afterwards, the three happy couples end up at a greasy spoon, dining on hamburgers. Schatze jokingly asks Evan and Freddie about their financial prospects, which are slim. When she finally gets around to Tom, he casually admits a net worth of around $200 million, and lists an array of holdings, which none of the others appear to take seriously. He then calls for the check, pulls out an enormous wad of money, and pays with a $1,000 bill, telling the chef to keep the change. The three astonished women faint dead away onto the floor. Tom then proposes the men drink a toast to their unconscious wives.



How to Marry a Millionaire was the first film ever to be filmed in the new CinemaScope wide-screen process, but it was the second CinemaScope film released by Fox, after the biblical epic The Robe .

20th Century Fox started production on The Robe before it began production on How to Marry a Millionaire, although production on the latter was completed first. The studio chose to present The Robe as its first CinemaScope production in late September or early October 1953 because it saw this film as being more family-friendly and attracting a larger audience to introduce its widescreen process. [4]

The film's cinematography was by Joseph MacDonald. The costume design was by Travilla. [5]

Portrayal of New York

Between scenes, the cinematography has some iconic color views of mid-20th century New York City: Rockefeller Center, Central Park, the United Nations Building, and Brooklyn Bridge in the opening sequence following the credits. Other iconic views include the Empire State Building, the lights of Times Square at night and the George Washington Bridge.

A song extolling the virtues of New York follows the Gershwin-like music used for the title credits, after an elaborate 5 minute pre-credit sequence showcasing a 70-piece orchestra conducted by Alfred Newman before the curtain goes up. [6]


The score for How To Marry a Millionaire was one of the first recorded for film in stereo and was composed and directed by Alfred Newman, with incidental music of Cyril Mockridge and orchestrated by Edward B. Powell. [7] The album was released on CD by Film Score Monthly on March 15, 2001, [8] as part of Film Score Monthly's series Golden Age Classics.

Release and box office

How to Marry a Millionaire premiered at the Fox Wilshire Theatre (now the Saban Theatre), in Beverly Hills, California, on November 4, 1953. [9] The film was a box office success earning $8 million worldwide [2] and $7.5 million domestically, making it Fox's second highest-grossing film of that year (with The Robe being the first), [10] and was the fourth highest-grossing film of 1953, whereas Monroe's previous feature Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was the ninth. [11]


Academy Awards [12] Best Costume Design – Color Charles LeMaire and William Travilla Nominated
British Academy Film Awards [13] Best Film from any Source How to Marry a MillionaireNominated
Writers Guild of America Awards [14] Best Written American Comedy Nunnally Johnson Nominated

Television adaptation

In 1957, the film was adapted into a sitcom of the same name. The series stars Barbara Eden (as Loco Jones), Merry Anders (Michelle "Mike" Page), Lori Nelson (Greta Lindquist) and as Nelson's later replacement, Lisa Gaye as Gwen Kirby. How to Marry a Millionaire aired in syndication for a total of two seasons.


In 2000, the 20th Century Fox Television produced a made-for-TV remake called How to Marry a Billionaire: A Christmas Tale . Instead of three women looking to marry a millionaire man, the film depicts three men looking to marry a millionaire woman. The film starred John Stamos, Joshua Malina and Shemar Moore.

In 2007, Nicole Kidman bought the rights to How to Marry a Millionaire under her production company Blossom Films, and is set to produce and possibly star in a remake. [15]

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