Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Best Shot: How To Marry a Millionaire

My second entry in The Film Experience's Hit Me With Your Best Shot series. I have mixed feelings about this comedy from 1953. The three leads are terrific: Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable play three single models in New York City who decide to lease a swanky apartment and focus their sites on only rich men. Monroe is, as always, a terrific comedienne and she really only gets one joke: she's blind but won't wear her glasses in front of men. Grable is sweet and kind of dumb and gets the least interesting storyline. Bacall is a no-nonsense millionaire-seeking missile and her line readings are great. She can also move across a movie screen just about as well as any actress ever could.

My problem with the film is the men. There was really no way they were ever going to live up to the ladies in this one but they don't even come close. There are really six men in total: the rich ones that the women aim for and the less-rich ones they fall for. Of that group only William Powell, as an elderly widow who becomes involved with Bacall, makes any kind of impression. In fact, I think she picks the wrong man in not winding up with him. They have a kind of gentle chemistry that really works.

For that reason I'm picking as my favorite shot the one in which Bacall comes across the frame to kiss William Powell. It's so natural and it's a great kiss, despite the years of difference in their age. I love the look on her face and her hands and the spare apartment behind them (the furniture has been hocked). Most movies kisses are framed in the center of the frame so I like how director Jean Negulesco switches this up. Maybe I'll pretend this is the happy ending of the film.

Here are some more of my screenshots I took while watching this.

Okay, maybe this is really my favorite shot.
The winning couples.

Upside down book. Blank stare.

I love all their expressions and how much the audience can read them.

The girls hatch their plan over hot dogs and champagne.


  1. so happy you're back again. I remembered this movie being so much better than it is. I actually like the guys in this movie but maybe that's because i didn't want the distraction as it were from the ladies.

  2. The wedding scene is one I debated about choosing, mostly because Bacall's glare just kills me and Monroe (as per usual) looks blankly cheerful for no apparent reason.

    (The first shot had me distracted because I kept staring at those billowy sleeves.)