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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.55:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • German: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • English: Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround
  Subtitles
    French, Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Portuguese, English - Hearing Impaired, Turkish, Icelandic, Croatian, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • 3 Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Featurette

How to Marry a Millionaire

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 92 mins . G . PAL

  Feature
Contract

How does one become a millionaire? Well, I guess there are several possibilities. Maybe you could win the lottery, or even buy a sawn-off shotgun and see where fancy takes you. For a few deluded souls there’s always that stupid game show, what’s it called again...? But if, like most people, the very thought of Eddie Maguire’s gormless face turns your stomach, there's not much hope there. However, if you have the good fortune to be a beautiful young model, and you have a little time on your hands, there is another way...

This way, of course, is very simple - just snag yourself an oil magnate, a stock-broker or erm, the son or daughter of a media-baron. Of course this is a courting technique that is older than the oldest of professions, and in 1953 it became the subject of the instructional film How to Marry a Millionaire. The film goes something like this...

"In Cinemascope!"

Having endured a loveless marriage to a gas-station yob, Schatze Page (Lauren Bacall) suddenly hits upon the perfect gold-digging scheme. With two of her friends, the short-sighted Pola Debevoise (Marilyn) and free-spirit Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable), she rents an expensive penthouse apartment for the three of them and finances their search for wealthy bachelors by slowly selling off the apartment’s furnishings. Because the snag, as we all know, is that a beautiful face and a tasty rack are not the only things required to court the wealthy. That old adage ‘it takes money to make money’ applies equally well here, and scoring yourself a rich husband often requires some serious financing! And so, with their new found source of income, our three young beauties are soon a movin’ and shakin’ in New York’s high society.

Now, despite being a boon to finishing school curriculums the world over, and despite featuring three of Hollywood's then hottest young starlets, How to Marry a Millionaire is not often mentioned amongst the great films of its era. For the star of the film is not Bacall, Grable or even Monroe, it’s (wait for it) Cinemascope. That’s right – technology! -it was the source of poor film making even back then. The first romantic comedy to be filmed using the new expansive film medium, Fox executives (as evidenced by the theatrical trailer) concentrated on little else. It’s a shame, because with three fantastic leads and the basis for a good old fashioned farce, How to Marry a Millionaire could have been fantastic. Marilyn is, of course, her usual adorable self, but there’s little else holding this one together. As it is it’s light, and mildly entertaining, but in the end it lacks any real comedic teeth.

  Video
Contract

Showcasing as it did the spanking new Cinemascope technology, How to Marry a Millionaire views as one long experiment in the framing of scenes for the extra-wide screen. Certainly director Negulesco seems to have given more thought to composition than the acting; constantly utilizing the entire 2.55:1 aspect ratio to full effect. The results are certainly stunning; a deft mixture of sweeping outdoor vistas, including the New York skyline and the American wilderness, and tightly composed three-way dialogue sequences.

In terms of the restoration and digital transfer, Fox have done another amazing job. Colours are vibrant and skin tones realistic (for ‘50s lighting and makeup that is), and whilst the amount of detail in the razor sharp image reveals the shortcomings in the ‘50s sets (like the painted backdrop of the New York skyline) there’s still detail aplenty to be relished. While there’s no hint of MPEG artefacing and only one or two specks and just a tiny bit of grain to sully the otherwise crystal clear image, the video conversion suffers only from a little from aliasing and moire – predominantly brickwork and fire escapes are the culprits here. Also, during the first interior scene the colour does appear to fluctuate as the camera pans; an effect can be seen in several early colour films and one that does become mildly distracting. Thankfully this problem disappears after the first ten minutes, and given the overall high quality on display, it is easily forgiven. As with many in Fox’s Marilyn collections, there’s no doubt that this digital version of How to Marry a Millionaire represents the film’s definitive version and will be relished by most fans will have never seen the film looking this good.

  Audio
Contract

In terms of audio, How to Marry a Millionaire has had the full treatment from Fox, and sports a spanking new, remastered Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack. What this actually amounts to is the extension of the original Cinemascope soundtrack (that sits across the front of the soundstage), that mixes a proportion of Alfred Newman’s bubbly score to the rear channels. The result is a soundstage that displays good channel separation across the front to follow voices and foley effects, and which becomes satisfyingly immersive when the score kicks in. Thankfully, the all-important dialogue remains clear and distinct throughout, and there’s no evidence of noise or dropouts.

  Extras
Contract

Like most others in this series, How to Marry a Millionaire supplies static yet anamorphic menus. Sadly, what few extras there are have almost zero re-watch potential.

  • Theatrical Trailers: Three trailers have been provided here. The first is the American trailer that was developed in black and white for full-frame (1.33:1) theatres and talks almost exclusively about the wonders of Cinemascope. The second is the Italian trailer that consists of widescreen (2.35:1 anamorphic) colour footage from the film overlaid with Italian titles. The third is the German trailer and is of lesser quality but identical content (except language) to the Italian offering.

  • Restoration Comparison:Like most others in Fox’s Marilyn Collections, this short featurette presents comparative, split-screen segments contrasting the restored image and the previous restoration, as well as the previous video master.

  • Movietone News: Full frame Movietone footage of celebrities arriving at the film’s glitzy Hollywood premiere.

  Overall  
Contract

Although I still find it hard to believe that, left alone in a room with fifty Jamie Packers, these three gorgeous models would stay single for more than 30 seconds, How to Marry a Millionaire was a film with promise. As it is, it remains probably the first film to be short-changed by the focus on technology over content, a trend that fills today’s cinema screens with dross every day of the week. Given little to work with, Bacall, Grable and most importantly Marilyn herself really are just going through the motions. Having said this, in terms of the disc itself Fox’s attention to the restoration cannot be faulted, and despite the dearth of extras, the presentation will certainly please you fans out there.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1855
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      And I quote...
    "...probably the first film to be short-changed by new production technologies, sadly Bacall, Grable and Marilyn are really just going through the motions. "
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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