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Directors of For Sama

Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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Best Shot: "How to Marry a Millionaire"

Hit Me With Your Best Shot, our series in which all participating movielovers argue for what is a particular movie's best shot, just keeps on surprising me. I've learned so much about the movies by doing it: what I personally respond to, how often a single image is dependent on the editing around it or the scenes preceding it for its punch, and that the most brilliant images tend to either define an entire movie OR illuminate a very particular piece of its identity. Best of all, I've learned things I couldn't have learned without an extra set of eyeballs... yours. Last week, for example, I came to appreciate The Royal Tenenbaums, in whole new ways via the posts on other blogs. Which is why I'm super anxious to read this week's entries. Because this week's movie, the romantic comedy How To Marry a Millionaire (1953) which was a favorite of mine as a teenager, left me very uninspired. I hadn't remembered how unambitious the visuals were, lazily trusting that Cinemascope would provide us with terrific images.

Which is, come to think of it, what many filmmakers did in the early days of Cinemascope. I've joked before that rectangles > squares but shapes are neutral. It's up to the filmmaker to know what to use a movie's shape for, be that square or rectangular or circle (should the movies ever get round)

So my choice for best shot makes good use of the Cinemascope. The Cinemascope allows this image above to be expansive while the blocking reveals a tight trap. The moment  comes early in the movie when the three golddiggers (Marilyn Monroe as "Pola", Betty Grable as "Loco", and Lauren Bacall as "Shatze"-- delicious character names!) think they've snared their first 'bear', a millionaire by the name of J.D. (William Powell, extremely well cast). The girls aren't greedy *cough* and have already agreed that even just one millionaire will do.

You only need one!

For a brief flash with all their backs are turned to the camera, it's easy to imagine a much creepier movie wherein the ladies pounce in for the kill. They're essentially predators, after all, sexy spiders slinking around their phony web (Manhattan condo with terrace) for billionaire flies.

While How to Marry is good popcorn fun, especially for Monroe's adorkable blind as a bat insecurities and Bacall's elegant snobbery as she looks down her nose at everyone and everything (including herself!), it's not much more than that. It feels padded even at only an hour and a half (is it the weirdly sleepy editing?) and the visuals are the least interesting thing about it. This is the only film we've covered where I had absolutely zero indecision about which shot to use. I'm a sucker for a continuous shot and if How to Marry's collection of them didn't feel so much like a filmed stage play (I actually wanted more cutting; that's so weird for me) they'd be a lot more exciting. But this one is a keeper. The middle 'backs to the camera' bit when the ladies pander to and coo at the squirming millionaire is perfect. The cherry on top is that the shot (and scene) ends with a delicious triple diva walk to the camera, all three stars really giving it to the camera... in character no less!

I think this is it kids, a great big room filled with nothing but rich millionaires. And us."

How To Discover Great Blogs (2012)
[Hint: click on them] 
Against the Hype Monroe, Gable and Bacall existing in the same universe?
Amiresque gets dreamy with Betty Grable 
Antagony & Ecstacy a passing of the sex goddess torch
Armchair Audience Bacall sure can move across a screen. But does she choose the right man?
Dial P For Popcorn moments that stick with you
Encore's World in most intrigued by the revealing shots of the threesome.
Film Actually Best Shot = Best Comic Timing
Movies Kick Ass 'there's no business like men business'

Final Three Episodes of Season Three:
Buster Keaton's Sherlock Jr (August 8th), Singin' in the Rain (August 15th), and Dog Day Afternoon (August 22nd). JOIN US. WHAT WILL YOU CHOOSE AS BEST SHOT?

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Reader Comments (5)

Yay, we chose the same shot.

For me the movie loses so much of its lilt when it separates the trio and has them going off on their varying adventures. I'm much more interested in the machinations when they're together.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

Amazing choices all. Predictably, more than half of us picked shots with all three stars in them, but the off-the-wall selections are just as delicious (in some cases, literally). I daresay someone could look at our collected shots and glean as much of worth as the movie could possibly offer, however damning that is.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterColin

Also, it bears being repeated. Even though I didn't care for this much in memory or re-watching it reading the different reactions to it is making me like it just a bit more which only goes to show the great power of discussion and one of the other great things about this series.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

I somehow kept waiting for Marilyn to sing even if I'd seen it before and I knew she wouldn't perform in it. I too remembered it being slightly more interesting but Marilyn just makes everything better.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJose

Here's mine:

Loved Lauren Baccall's bitchiness. That woman's eyeroll deserves an Oscar for itself.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJorge
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