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Fox Home Entertainment presents
"I didn't count on looking that ridiculous. He's got all the jokes and I'm going 'Cock-a-doodle-doo.'"
DVD ReviewThis release is a perfect example of a film that is "just another Marilyn movie" when shown on TV, yet becomes a lovely souvenir document on the shelf as a DVD. Let's Make Love is a quasi-musical in which the story revolves around a stage production and provides ample opportunity to weave production numbers into the plot-line. The jazzy musical sequences capture a type of entertainment that was the inheritor of vaudeville and survived until the overwhelming onslaught of television. Three uncredited cameos featuring the legends Milton Berle, Bing Crosby and Gene Kelly liven up the second half of the film, English variety star Frankie Vaughan has some good musical moments and Three Stooges member Joe Besser has a small part. All in all, the result is a very nice and entertaining package of romance, comedy and song.
The score is by Lionel Newman, with songs by Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, as well as Cole Porter's My Heart Belongs to Daddy. The numbers are staged by Jack Cole, who also choreagraphed Some Like it Hot, Kismet, Meet Me After the Show and The Al Jolson Story. Marilyn is "mari-licious" as working musical comedy actress Amanda Dell, who is looking to improve herself. Not exactly a stretch, but following the success of Some Like it Hot, she is at the height of her career and fame. Yves Montand has such a familiar name as an international film star and his relationship off-screen with Marilyn was the source of tabloid sensation. However, he shows himself to be terribly ineffective in English and is really the weakest aspect of the film.
The movie opens with a reasonably humorous montage outlining the fictional family history of French billionaire-playboy Jean-Marc Clement (Montand). A public relations problem is brought to his attention by Howard Coffman (Randall); it seems that a show called Let's Make Love is being planned on Broadway that will satirize Clement and there are difficulties in dealing with the issue. To close up the show would cause more bad publicity and, if successful, might find its way to The Ed Sullivan Show or other national outlets. Coffman convinces Clement to attend a rehearsal of the show and determine the exact nature of the humor.
Randall utilizes that particular type of fussy drollness that he plays so well and his dry observations as he facilitates Clements illusion are hilarious. He, along with Wilfrid Hyde-White as Clement's business manager, attempts to brighten up the screen in the long sequences where Marilyn is not in the picture and Montand must carry the action, but it is quite often slow going.
Upon entering the darkened theater, Clement is immediately confronted with the singing and dancing Marilyn describing how her "heart belongs to dah-deeee." She really is quite astonishing in that way that only Marilyn has and he falls for her immediately. Introducing himself to her as "Jean-Marc Clement," he is mistaken for an actor who has come to audition for the role of the billionaire in the show. Eyeing Marilyn in her "rehearsal clothes," he opts to maintain the confusion and stay close to the production... and her. Thus is born our comedic set-up.
Clement continues in rehearsal for the show and it gets quite funny as he is confronts the escalating lampoon of himself that he is forced to participate in and the fact that, just possibly, he might not be able to win the heart of the girl without the power of his money behind him. As we hurtle inevitably to the moments of revelation, there are several quite amusing set pieces. Milton Berle is particularly wry when brought in to teach Clement how to be funny. Bing Crosby drops by to help the billionaire strengthen his singing voice and the inimitable Gene Kelly shows Jean-Marc a few steps. Although the plot of the second half of the film tends to bog down occasionally with the focus on Clement, we are thankfully saved by regular musical numbers. In fairness, Montand does achieve a level of facility in his pantomime number and fantasy sequence that leads one to suspect that his stiffness as Clement might have just been acting.
Legendary director George Cukor handles the production with flare and flash. At some moments one can sense that what we see on the screen is what could be made from a difficult filming. Some of the conversations between Clement and Amanda seem oddly cut and there are lapses of positional continuity as the camera switches back and forth between the two. It might have been a tough job to piece together usable footage into a credible scene, as this is time when Marilyn reputation for being difficult was in full bloom. In Monroe history, this movie was made duing the end of her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, who was an uncredited writer on the film. One suspects that he is responsible for some of the dialogue in which Amanda speaks about herself in terms that seem to refer to Monroe herself. Supposedly, he lobbied to extend Marilyn's part in the film, which was the reason the original star, Gregory Peck, dropped out of the project. But this seems unlikely, as Montand's screen time as Clement is more than ample and the film could only have been much less interesting with any less of Marilyn.
Even though there is a little too much of the stiff Montand, this is ultimately Marilyn's movie. Her performance is so blithely sexy and earnest that is contains a unique charm on its own. It is interesting to compare her films of this type prior to her experiences at The Actors Studio and the ones that follow. Somehow Marilyn manages to bring a depth to her performance in these light-hearted comedies that puts her in a special position in the genre. Her singing here is simply classic Marilyn that can only be copied and never duplicated. One cannot call Let's Make Love an undiscovered gem, but it is certain that it is a film worthy of reconsideration on its own merits.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Film restoration is such a good thing and Fox has done a lovely job of bringing this film back on a crisp and detailed transfer. The DVD looks beautiful and the widescreen presentation simply outstrips any other way you may have seen Let's Make Love. The best part of the wide format is the context in which the scenes take place is restored and what looks claustraphobic in full frame opens up nicely. All the nicely mounted musical numbers benefit from the increased quality.
Image Transfer Grade: A
Audio Transfer Review: This film benefits greatly from the reprocessed sound. Originally mono, we now hear the musical numbers in a very nice expanded stereo in Dolby 4.0. I heard a few instances of drop outs in the dialogue but overall there is a nice job in placing the actors' voices in the stereo spectrum. Another fine example by the Fox technicians. The whole of The Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection has demonstrated a great care for the soundtracks of these decades-old films, and it seems these new releases follow suit.
Audio Transfer Grade: A
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Don't Bother to Knock, Monkey Business, Niagara, River of No Return, Diamond Collection
Extras Grade: C
Final CommentsAlthough generally given low marks as film, the Let's Make Love DVD would make a fine addition to any collection lacking Marilyn Monroe films. This one is amusing, unique and provides a lot of entertainment value. Many of the sourpuss reviews—both in its era and current to the video—seem to exist only as a chance for the critic to take shots at Monroe. Don't believe them; this is a fun musical-comedy extravaganza and Marilyn fans...? Well, I don't have to tell you what to do.
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