Despite the stereophonic cooing of CinemaScope's newer, wider Marilyn Monroe, How to Marry a Millionaire ends up just another routine Techni-color movie. Substituting torsos for originality, Hollywood has swelled the female form up to unprecedented size without attempting to increase the script's humor proportionately.
Latest in the How To series (How To Win Friends, How To Be Happy Though Drafted, etc.) the film is singularly uninstructive. Leggy Lauren Bacall is the only prospector of a mercenary trio to strike matrimonial pay-dirt. Less fortunate, Misses Monroe and Betty Grable trade loot for love and their gold rush fails to pan out.
But if How To Marry provides little of sound advice for the working girl, it supplies even less in the way of entertainment. Miss Bacall's gold-digging, about as subtle as a swipe with a pickaxe, is only intermittently amusing. The performances of her two friends, however, are a bit more polished. Miss Monroe, particularly, inhales with authority.
In an attempt to balance its bevy of sirens, the picture includes four males. One, Rory Calboun, whines out of the side of his mouth with unique effect and is the dubious prize which topples to Miss Grable. The others, William Powell, David Wayne, and Fred Clark are upstaged by the female Big Three and to good advantage.
Besides exploiting the self-evident truths of its heroines, How to Marry stirs occasional interest with its new photographic technique. Unlike The Robe, in which historical setting limited use of the wide-lens camera, How To Marry puts CinemaScope to work in everyday surroundings. Freed from painted sets, the medium projects a new illusion of space by concentrating on familiar scenes like the George Washington Bridge and the New York skyline. Had the film concentrated as much on script lines as on skylines and necklines, How To Marry a Millionaire would have been a more profitable gold hunt.
Also on the bill is Walt Disney's first try at CinemaScope, a Technicolor cartoon called Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom. Though the cartoon shows a strong UPA influence, it clings to the saccharine sentimentality that has often plagued Disney. Cluttered with tweeting birds and comic cave men, the wide screen loses its panoramic effect in a flood of blaring music and garish color.