Reel Estate

Reel Estate: How to Marry a Millionaire? Shack up in an $8,000 a month apartment

By Virginia K. Smith | August 15, 2014 - 9:59AM

Apartments are big lures in this city, especially if they're as sumptuous as the one in 1953's How to Marry a Millionaire. So it sort of makes sense that three women would cohabitate in a luxe Manhattan apartment they can't afford to attract potential husbands—the richer, the better.

The movie opens with Lauren Bacall's character Schatze wrangling with an overeager broker to take over the enormous, furnished apartment of someone named Freddie Denmark, who's fled the country to avoid prosecution for skipping out on his income taxes. Once she realizes the actual owner won't be back anytime soon, she agrees to the $1,000/month rent (that'd be over $8,000 a month in 2014), writes a check for first and last month's rent, then shuts the door in the broker's face when he tries to talk her into a lease that's longer than a year. Suffice it to say it's how we wish we'd handled all of our past least signings:

She immediately invites her friend Pola (Marilyn Monroe) to join her, and Pola invites her friend and fellow model "Loco" to join, too. (Schatze's initial reservations—"I can't shack up with a dame I never even met. And she's crazy, too?"—are as solid advice as we've ever heard for the roommate search.)

The apartment itself—besides having a massive living room with floor-to-ceiling windows that open right out onto a large deck—is pure high-end mid-century decorating, full of clean lines and furniture in an orange, yellow, and gold palate (you can check out some screengrabs of the apartment here and here.)

This comes in handy: when none of the three women manage to immediately meet and marry a millionaire, they start pawning off the furniture in order to make rent, and the apartment ends up empty:


Of course, it all works out in the end (spoiler), and Schatze ends up with a multi-millionaire, while Pola lands the owner of the actual apartment.

In the movie, the building is shown as 36 Sutton Place South (right on the corner of East 55th). Apartments in the real-life building aren't available as rentals, but as it happens, a relatively similar penthouse is on the market right now for $4.7 million.  

The living room isn't quite as expansive, but that brick balcony looks pretty familiar, and likely as good a place as any to pop a bottle of champagne (or three): 

You can check out the movie's full trailer for some welcome outfit, interior design, and broker-handling inspiration.


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