Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Clever Girl: Lauren Bacall in How to Marry a Millionaire


Written for the Lauren Bacall Blogathan hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood

My experience with Lauren Bacall films only began once I developed an interest in Humphrey Bogart. Once I made Bogie's acquaintance, and watched Key Largo (which I'll post about tomorrow), I loved Bacall at least as much as Bogart.

One thing I realized in watching this movie is that she was lucky in her films with Bogart. She was never overlooked or overshadowed, certainly never second fiddle, not even to him. But here, in How to Marry a Millionaire, she is almost an afterthought for the modern viewer. Why? Because Marilyn Monroe is the "it girl" and if a movie has her in the cast, then of course, the movie is about her.

NOT SO!

Everything that happens in How to Marry a Millionaire is because of the cleverness of Bacall's character, Schatze Page. Schatze is the leading role, she is the heroine, and she is the one came up with the idea for this crazy scheme in the first place!
Now that we've established that Lauren Bacall really is the leading lady of How to Marry a Millionaire, we can move on.


This story is about a young woman, Schatze Page, who partners with 2 friends who intend to marry wealthy men. They're literally husband hunting and will settle for nothing less than a man who drips gold from his fingertips. Lauren's character, naturally, is leading this mad concept, and she fights to keep the other two girls in line: Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable) who will settle for almost any type of man and Pola Debevoise (Marilyn Monroe) who is blind as a bat without her glasses. A very funny threesome and completely different one from another.

One of the things I love about Lauren is that she never played simpering, silly little females. Strong female leads were her forte, women of fortitude and intellect. She is no different in the role of Schatze, in fact, I'd say in some ways she's even more clever. But one of the most fascinating things about clever girls is when they get one little detail wrong, as happens in this film.

What detail?

Why the identity of the handsome man pestering her, of course! She thinks he is employed by a gas station because that's the kind of guy she's always fallen for before, as her long list of marriages will attest. And she doesn't want that again. Except she's wrong, and a lot of the fun in this movie is watching her learn that she's wrong.


Okay, okay, so I watched this movie once before. And I kind of just watched it and moved on, not giving it much thought, but really, How to Marry a Millionaire is an entertaining little flick with a couple of solid life lessons to be learned. While we romanticize the idea of marrying someone with wealth and station, if there isn't love in the picture, then what's the point? Money really cannot buy happiness, as all of these delightful women learn. Each of them needed someone different, someone unique to their own quirks, and each of them found that man.

I love that kind of story. I guess the first time I saw it, I wasn't ready to appreciate it.

Of course, it helps being a Bacall fan now because if you let her, she really steals the show. There's just something wonderful about watching her try on a different type of role from the film noir that she deliciously excelled at in the 1940s. As I always suspected, Lauren Bacall cannot be tied down to just one genre, but even though she can change genres, she is still that most deliciously talented young lady who first won the heart of America and Humphrey Bogart at the same time. A woman who knows what she wants and goes for it. What's not to love?

9 comments:

  1. Agreed! This movie has a perfect cast, especially Bacall as the smart, scheming Schatze. She's tough and charming, all at once.

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    1. Bacall was ideal in every way for Schatze. I wish she wasn't so under-appreciated in this role.

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  2. Yes, Bacall is the lead in this film! Thanks God we can acknowledge this, and forget a little about Marilyn Monroe. Sure, Marilyn is charming, but without Bacall this film would never be so good! And I loved what you said about her playing strong women.
    Thanks for the kind comment!
    Kisses!
    Le

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    1. Yep, she's totally the lead. No doubt about it. I mean, I find Marilyn endearing, but she's hands down lower lady on the totem pole.

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  3. It's such a fun movie, I agree! I quite love Lauren Bacall, so I'm off to see what other entries in the blogathon there are!

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  4. Hi Carissa. You gave us a fun essay about a fun movie. Lauren Bacall is definitely the main character.

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    1. Thanks so much! I may even end up buying this film now that I've seen it again with a fresher perspective than when I watched it all those years ago. :)

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  5. Thanks so much for participating in the blogathon. I loved reading your entry and I look forward to reading your entry on "Key Largo" soon.

    I would also like to invite you to participate in my next blogathon. The link is below with more details

    https://crystalkalyana.wordpress.com/2015/09/24/announcing-the-silent-cinema-blogathon/

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