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How to Be Very, Very Popular

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

How to Be Very, Very Popular
Directed byNunnally Johnson
Produced byNunnally Johnson
Screenplay byNunnally Johnson
Based onBased upon a play by Howard Lindsay
from a novel by
Edward Hope, and a play
by Lyford Moore
and Harlan Thompson
StarringBetty Grable
Sheree North
Bob Cummings
Charles Coburn
Tommy Noonan
Music byCyril J. Mockridge
conducted by
Lionel Newman
CinematographyMilton Krasner A. S. C.
Edited byLouis Loeffler
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 22, 1955 (1955-07-22)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.7 million

How to Be Very, Very Popular is a 1955 comedy film written, produced and directed by Nunnally Johnson. The film starred Betty Grable in her final movie role and introduced Sheree North.

Johnson later said "I don't much like to think of How To Be_ Very , Very Popular because it brought fame and fortune to nobody. It was just a lousy mistake on everybody's part. "[2]


Stormy Tornado and Curly Flagg are two showgirls from a San Francisco cabaret who witness the murder of one of their fellow performers and can identify the killer. Not wanting to get mixed up in a murder rap, the girls flee the scene and hide out at Bristol College, disguising themselves as boys. However the need for attention makes the girls want to stand out in their stage costumes and then the trouble begins.[3][4]



How to Be Very, Very Popular was the third adaptation derived from the 1933 novel She Loves Me Not by Edward Hope. The novel was first made into the 1934 Paramount comedy She Loves Me Not which starred Miriam Hopkins as Curly Flagg and co-starred Bing Crosby. That was then remade as True to the Army for Paramount in 1942. How to Be Very, Very Popular was based on the Broadway adaptation of She Loves Me Not by Howard Lindsay[5] which was adapted from the original Edward Hope (Edward Hope Coffey)[6] novel.[7] It was also based on a second play, Sleep It Off, which was about a woman hypnoised for 24 hours.[8]

It was written, produced and directed by Nunally Johnson who had written and produced How to Marry a Millionare. Johnson called Popular "an old fashioned farce. Wacky." He said he felt like making a comedy after doing two dramas, Night People and Black Widow.[8]

The character of Curly Flagg was the lead in She Loves Me Not but was made the secondary character to Stormy Tornado in How to Be Very, Very Popular to accommodate Betty Grable. She had been the number one box office attraction throughout the 1940s and early 50s with her films making enormous amounts of money for 20th Century Fox.

Nunnally Johnson said he wrote the script for Grable and Marilyn Monroe who had previously starred together in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) which is credited for basically creating the changeover in who was the top star at Fox. Grable was the top star in the 1940s and Monroe would become the top star of the 50s. However, there was no rivalry between the two bombshells, in fact Grable is said to have famously told Monroe, "go and get yours honey! I've had mine". The two became friends after that.

In December 1954 Fox announced the film would star Monroe.[9] Sleep It Off was an alternative title.[10] However Monroe refused to make the movie. In January 1955 the studio suspended her and replaced her with Sheree North who had been meant to appear in a film called Pink Tights.[11]

Johnson said North had "been in the bull pen warming up too long and I'll hope she'll emerge from this a star. To date she's just been a threat but she's good looking and frank as they come."[12]

Johnson later said in an interview he was "handed" North, and knew nothing about her. Johnson called the script "a mess, and Sheree, nice little woman, but unbelievably untalented. Untalented in the sense that she couldn't do this. [Johnson looks from left to right] You know;, she had to do this. [Johnson looks left, looks down, looks up to the left]. Her eyes would go down like this. I'd say, "Now; look, when you turn from him to her, can't you just look?" She says, "Isn't that what I'm doing?" I said, "No, this is what you're doing." With that kind of talent, it was hard to get anything out of her."[13]

In the absence of Monroe, Fox offered the co starring role to Betty Grable.[14] Robert Cummings then joined the cast.[15]

Archer MacDonald was meant to play a key role but was hospitalised for ulcers and replaced by Tommy Noonan.[16]

Jonhson reflected "Betty was good as always, but its only distinction, if you want to call it that, is that I'm convinced that Billy Wilder pinched the plot."[17] Wilder would make Some Like It Hot with Monro, which had a similar plot — two male entertainers witness a murder, then flee disguised as women.

Song credit


At the time of its release, How to Be Very, Very Popular was greeted with mixed to positive press. Betty Grable's performance was generally praised, whereas newcomer Sheree North's performance drew less impressive notices. North appeared on the cover of LIFE just before the film's release. It enjoyed reasonable success, earning an estimated $1.65 million in rentals at the North American box office during its first year of release.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. (1989) Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p249
  2. ^ Johnson p 359
  3. ^ "The News and Eastern Townships Advocate - Google News Archive Search".
  4. ^ "The Age - Google News Archive Search".
  5. ^ Cooke, Helen. "After Hope". The New Yorker.
  6. ^ "Princeton Alumni Weekly". 1957.
  7. ^ "The Michigan Daily - Google News Archive Search".
  8. ^ a b A TOWN CALLED HOLLYWOOD: Nunnally Johnson Gambles on Chorines and Baldheads; Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]27 Mar 1955: E2.
  9. ^ Marilyn Monroe Begins Work on Comedy Film in January Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 6 Dec 1954: c12.
  10. ^ SINATRA TO STAR IN MUSICAL FILM: He Will Appear in Lasky's Salute to Young America, 'The Big Brass Band' By THOMAS M. PRYOR The New York Times. 17 Dec 1954: 36.
  11. ^ Studio Suspends Marilyn for Failure to Report Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 16 Jan 1955: A.
  12. ^ Sheree North Joining All-Star Cast at 20th Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 19 Jan 1955: B6.
  13. ^ Johnson p 358-359
  14. ^ METRO WILL FILM GRAZIANO STORY New York Times 20 Jan 1955: 35.
  15. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times Y]26 Jan 1955: 22.
  16. ^ DISNEY RELEASES TV SERIES AS FILM: By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times. New 26 Feb 1955: 12.
  17. ^ Johnson p 359
  18. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956


External links

This page was last edited on 11 September 2020, at 23:41
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