Story: Hugh (Macdonald Carey) has been married to his wife Miriam (Claudette Colbert) for over two decades, but all that is about to end, as their divorce is about to be finalized. Despite the looming split and past problems, Hugh remains close and is still found at the house quite often, even doing the yard work. He doesn’t want anyone else to handle the rose bushes, just like he doesn’t like he doesn’t want anyone else to make a move on Miriam. He would like to reunite before the divorce goes through, but that will be a real challenge, especially since Miriam has a new suitor. Her ex Victor (Zachary Scott) has returned and brought his fortune with him and Miriam’s son in law encourages her to rekindle with him, as he would like to move out of Miriam’s home and move forward with his own household. Can Hugh somehow show Miriam that they’re still destined to be together, or will the past come back to haunt him in the end?
Entertainment Value: This movie is a pure delight, an old school romantic comedy that has sharp writing, great performances, and of course, tons of laughs. I don’t watch a lot of romantic comedies, but this is such a departure from the modern formula for the genre, it doesn’t even feel adjacent by comparison. There are some tropes of course, but those are minimal and the focus is on the cast and the dialogue, both of which are so point, you’d likely not even notice the tropes here. The narrative is interesting, a couple of the brink of divorce going through very different experiences, and it is a premise that is simple to establish and then let the performances and humor take over. Let’s Make It Legal also keeps the runtime to just over seventy minutes, so it doesn’t have much filler or wasted time, this is all top tier material. The dialogue really shines, quick paced exchanges and sharp barbs, but also a sense of emotional weight, when called for. Even small conversations here can further our characters and I appreciate that while the charm steals the show, there is also some substance here. I had a wonderful time with Let’s Make It Legal and I’d give it a very strong recommendation.
The cast here is spectacular, a wisely chosen ensemble that brings the material to life in grand fashion. If you went by the way the movie has been marketed in the decades since it was released, you might assume Marilyn Monroe is the star or at the very least, a prominent character. That is not the case however, so if your interest here is driven by her presence, you might be let down by how little she is around in Let’s Make It Legal. Monroe has only a few minutes on screen here, which is surely to disappoint her fans, but that doesn’t mean her role should be overlooked. To the contrary, as she makes the most of that limited time and commands the screen, so her star power radiates even in a small role like this one. The standout on the cast is Claudette Colbert, who as always is able to bring such charm and charisma to her work, she is a pleasure to watch here. I love how natural her banter is and her entire performance feels so effortless, yet always on point. The cast also includes Macdonald Carey, Zachary Scott, Robert Wagner, and Barbara Bates.
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