This weekend I watched How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) for the first time and I fell in love, once again, with Lauren Bacall. Alongside Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable, she continues her hunt through New York City for the perfect “Mr. Cadillac,” a delicious label for any wealthy man. When Miss Bacall’s character mentions that she loves older men, referencing “that what’s-his-name in The African Queen,” I could not stop laughing at this nod to her real-life husband, Humphrey Bogart. When it comes to these wonderful old films, I don’t usually expect small cracks in the fourth wall . . . hidden treasures when you stumble upon ’em, and this one definitely took me by surprise!
Later when I was chatting with Dad about this film, naturally the conversation shifted to Miss Marilyn Monroe, my Uncle Howie’s amazing portrait of her, and the universe’s ever shifting definition of beauty. Because of my uncle’s fascinating picture that still hangs in my apartment, apparently I’ve developed a darker vision of Marilyn — I found that the airy voice of the bubbly blonde bombshell was actually a bit of a curveball. But then again . . . what a nice, uplifting surprise it is when I see the smile, wink, and beauty mark that, for me, remain hidden under a collage of so many other faces.
While chatting away with Dad, he asked me if I had read Maureen Dowd’s latest article in The New York Times on Marilyn Monroe. I encourage you all, beloved readers, to take a look at Ms. Dowd’s short piece and discover why Arthur Miller once called Marilyn “a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.” And certainly if you happen across How to Marry a Millionaire, pop yourself some corn, forget about all the face-wearing that took up your day, and enjoy a little escape with the girls . . .