The 1953 big-budget flick "How to Marry a Millionaire" releases on a single-disc Blu-ray featuring the first Hollywood romantic comedy lensed using the then new widescreen format called Cinemascope. It is a remake of the 1932 Pre-Code comedy "The Greeks Had a Word for Them." It received a Best Costume Design (Color) nomination at the Academy Awards.
This film directed by Jean Negulesco stars the three screen goddesses from their respective eras Betty Grable, Lauren Bacall, and Marilyn Monroe. Its title says it all as its story revolves around three gorgeous gold-digging models who flaunt their best assets and conspire to nab millionaire husbands. However, in the middle of these platinum blonde bombshells' wild scheme to marry rich men, they are pushed to the end of their wits as they find true love during the process.
This vintage Cinemascope offering understandably shows the color limitations of the technology during its early years. Yet, it is worth noting that this motion picture presented a new kind of cinematic experience for the post-war audiences who were clearly hyped with the proliferation of full-screen TV sets. The Cinemascope's longer aspect ratio was primarily meant to lure people back into the theaters.
Taken the proper perspective, this cinematic piece actually delivers a gorgeous anamorphic transfer with hardly a speck or scratch to notice. Although there are mild color and brightness fluctuations seen every now and then, its lovely screen compositions of lingering vistas of New York and upscale Manhattan interiors are always a feast on the eyes. As a dated work, its accurately reproduced film grain gets a bit heavier in between optical shots. But overall, the material's grain structure remains pleasingly intact.
The film's original four-channel stereophonic sound, which is a fairly new technology during its time of release like the Cinemascope format, gets slightly expanded into a five-channel surround track in this Blu-ray edition. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track works best for the on-screen and off-screen audio materials. Meanwhile, the Dolby 4.0 track offers better enhancements for the musical elements. The package also sports a wide selection of dubbed options. These include the alternative five-channel mixes in French, German, and Russian, as well as digital mono mixes in Italian, Czech, Turkish, and Catalan.
As expected, surround channels aren't very aggressive, but the front-anchored mix still provides a great sense of clarity. There is enough presence coming from the front speakers. Minimal audio components bleed into the rears. The appropriately lush and frothy musical score works fine without overpowering the speaking lines. Overall, the soundtrack is free of crucial hisses, pops, and crackles.
The disc supplies a few extras including the newsreel coverage of the film's New York premiere entitled "Movietone News: How to Marry a Millionaire Cinemascope," the film's theatrical, Italian, and German trailers, and other trailers of Marilyn Monroe movies including "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," "River of No Return," "The Seven Year Itch," and "There's No Business Like Show Business." Subtitles are available in several languages including English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Cantonese, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Icelandic, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Greek, Hebrew, Turkish, Indonesian, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), and Mandarin (Traditional).
"How to Marry a Millionaire" may not be cinematically filling, but it is a delicious frosted confection nonetheless. It showcases an era's takes on the age-old marry for love or marry for money issue, sexual stereotyping, and outdated gender roles. As a mid-century chick flick, it generally works as a watchable fare for its technical grandeur and its cast's brilliant comedic timing.
- Arts & Entertainment
- Marilyn Monroe