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In the history of the cinema, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE is a notable entry because it was the first film to be produced in 20th Century Fox's wide screen process- CinemaScope. Certainly, the laurels for the first film released in CinemaScope go to THE ROBE (still sadly absent from DVD), but this is the film that Fox used to demonstrate that any subject matter could benefit from their wondrous wide screen process. Actually, the anamorphic process that Fox dubbed CinemaScope had been sitting on the shelf for years- it was only dusted off to lure audience back into movie theaters and away from that dreaded interloper- television.

HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE is one of my favorite Marilyn Monroe films because it erased all doubt about her talents. This film is proof positive that Marilyn was a gifted comedian with impeccable timing- and not just another pretty face walking around on a luscious body. Marilyn is downright hilarious as the beautiful girl, who is too vain to wear glasses in public, but "blind as a bat" without them. Watching her character discretely grope her way through life and continuously bump into things, while retaining her dignity is a treat. While HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE may be a mere comic trifle, the film succeeds marvelously thanks to Marilyn and the film's other two leading ladies.

In HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, Lauren Bacall portrays Schatze Page, the ringleader, who comes up with a scheme for her and her two cohorts to find and marry millionaires. Renting a furnished luxury apartment, which the threesome can ill afford on their modeling salaries, Schatze figures that it takes a better mousetrap to catch a better class of mouse. While Pola Debevoise (Marilyn) takes to the idea like bees take to honey, Loco Dempsey (Betty Grable) finds it impossible to escape her working class roots and working class men. Eventually, all three manage to hook up with millionaires, but the results aren't exactly what our three would-be gold diggers were expecting. The cast of HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE also features David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, Cameron Mitchell, Alexander D'Arcy, Fred Clark and William Powell.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE available on DVD in a 2.55:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The new transfer of HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE comes from recently restored film elements that were prepared specifically for this release. Further cleaning and restorative work was applied to the high definition master, which was down converted for this DVD release. The overall appearance of HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE is very pleasing; with this edition looking far better than everything that has preceded it on video. HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE appears cleaner, sharper and better defined than it has in the past, with less grain and better detail being the greatest benefits of the restorative work. There is some distortion in the image, with things appearing wider in the center and narrower at the ends, but this is due to imperfections in the early CinemaScope lenses. Colors are much stronger than they have appeared in past incarnations, but shots that contain optical fades and transitions appear a bit off. Most of the time the flesh tones seem reasonably natural, but there are a few places where they come across as a bit pale. The strongest hues are completely stable and never show any signs of smearing. Blacks appear solid and the image has pretty even contrast, as well as good depth. The restored film elements still display minor imperfections, but nothing that ever becomes distracting. Clean dual layer authoring conceals all traces of digital compression artifacts.

The Dolby Digital 4.0 channel is a direct port of the film's original four channel stereo soundtrack. Directionality is maintained in the forward soundstage, with the surround channel remaining quiet throughout the film. Only the orchestral prelude and the film's credits contain any traces of musical surround activity. There are some sonic limitations in the nearly fifty-year-old musical recording, however the music sounds very good when amplified, without any signs of distortion or breakup. Part of the wonder of the big wide screen was having the actors' voices issuing out from their relative position on screen- HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE is no exception to this rule, as its directional dialogue can surely attest. Those individuals whose front left and front right are speakers far away from their displays may find the effect of directional dialogue a bit disconcerting, however the voices are well recorded and still manage to sound fairly natural, despite the age of the recordings. An English surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as is a French language track. Subtitles are provided in English, French and Spanish.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Like the other films in the Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection, HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE includes a comparison that shows what the film looked like prior to and after the restoration. This feature does utilize a split screen for purposes of the comparison. Also included on the DVD is newsreel footage of the film's premiere, as well as three theatrical trailers for this film, as well as trailers for other Monroe DVD titles.

HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE is a genuine delight of a movie that has an interesting place in cinema history. Kudos to Fox for giving this film the proper care required to make sure that this would be a good looking and good sounding DVD release. Again, this DVD is a must have for film buffs and Marilyn Monroe fans.

HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE is available individually on DVD for $24.98 or as part of Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection for $99.98.



Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection


 How To Marry A Millionaire

 Marilyn Monroe - The Diamond Collection


DVD reviews are Copyright 2001 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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