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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Ed: Why don't we have dinner together?
DVD ReviewMarilyn Monroe endured perhaps the longest apprenticeship of any of Hollywood's legendary megastars, dutifully toiling in an endless string of mediocre Fox films from 1947 to 1953. Aside from a couple of notable appearances in John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle and Joseph Mankiewicz's All About Eve, Monroe adorned several idiotic comedies, usually as sexy, mindless window dressing, before her breakthrough roles in the steamy Niagara (her 20th film!) and tuneful Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Love Nest, directed by Joseph Newman and written by I.A.L. Diamond (who would later pen one of Monroe's biggest hits, Some Like It Hot, and enjoy a lengthy collaboration with director Billy Wilder), gives Marilyn little to do except wiggle her derričre, strip to her undies, and speak a few suggestive lines in a throaty contralto. On screen for only about ten of the film's 84 minutes, Monroe nevertheless brightens the proceedings, but ends up more of a plot device than an honest-to-goodness character.
The real stars of this painless but dull romantic comedy are two second tier Fox contract players—the perky June Haver (who, after only one more film, would leave Hollywood to briefly become a nun, then marry actor Fred MacMurray) and beefy but boring William Lundigan. Lundigan portrays returning war vet Jim Scott, who arrives back in New York City after two-and-a-half years in France to occupy what he hopes will be a cozy love nest with his wife Connie (Haver). Instead, Connie informs him she's sunk their life savings into a broken down brownstone apartment building and—guess what?—they're the landlords. Maintaining the dilapidated building is quite a chore (and financial drain), yet managing the wacky, problematic tenants proves equally challenging, especially a suave casanova named Charley Patterson (vaudeville legend Frank Fay), whose romance with widow Eadie Gaynor (Leatrice Joy) raises eyebrows and suspicions.
When an apartment becomes vacant, Jim suggests renting it to his old army buddy, Bobby Stevens. Connie readily agrees, but has second thoughts when Bobby turns out to be Bobbi (Monroe), an ex-WAC with a shapely figure, platinum hair, and a far too friendly disposition. After a marital spat, Jim spends an innocent night in Bobbi's apartment, causing the requisite romantic complications, but all's well that ends well, and the building winds up a love nest after all.
With only a handful of lines, Monroe makes few waves, but still manages to steal focus whenever she's on screen. She comes across as fresh and natural, and enjoys a nice rapport with Jack Paar in a rare (and also minor) movie role as Jim and Connie's wisecracking pal. Nobody lights up a film like Marilyn, but unfortunately, after disrupting the Scotts' marriage, Bobbi mysteriously vanishes from the story, and the film suffers as a result.
Diamond's script possesses a few amusing exchanges, but can't begin to approach the level of his later efforts, which include The Apartment and One, Two, Three. Maybe Diamond needed more seasoning or Billy Wilder's sophisticated polish to reach his full potential; whatever the reason, Love Nest lacks panache, and Newman's pedestrian direction does nothing to enhance the screenplay or add visual spark. Haver and Lundigan make an attractive couple, but their talents aren't substantial enough to overcome the flimsy material.
Back in 1951, Love Nest was a typical low-budget comedy hastily cranked out by a Hollywood factory, and it's nothing more than an antique curio today. Were it not for the brief appearance of Marilyn Monroe, it's mighty doubtful this mundane sitcom would ever turn up on DVD. A pleasant trifle for contemporary audiences, nobody ever intended Love Nest to be viewed a half century later, and it shows.
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C
Image Transfer Review: Understandably, Fox has chosen not to lavish Love Nest with the same meticulous restoration as the titles contained in the two Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection box sets. The film certainly doesn’t look bad, but little has been done to spruce up the existing image. Print quality is spotty (both literally and figuratively), with plenty of specks and debris dotting the film. Long stretches, however, remain remarkably clean, but contrast is weak throughout, and a washed out look contributes to the movie's flat feel.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: A tinny quality pervades the stereo track that borders on distortion in the upper registers, and a bizarre thumping intermittently distracts, but for a 53-year-old film, Love Nest sounds pretty good. Any surface wear has been erased and dialogue is always clear and comprehendible.
Audio Transfer Grade: C
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
15 Other Trailer(s) featuring All About Eve, As Young As You Feel, Bus Stop, Don't Bother to Knock, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry A Millionaire, Let's Make Love, Let's Make It Legal, Monkey Business, Niagara, River of No Return, The Seven Year Itch, There's No Business Like Show Business, We're Not Married, The Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Joseph Newman and film historian Jack Allen
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Layers Switch: 24m:14s
Extras Review: Aside from a truckload of Monroe trailers, the only extra is a feature-length (but not scene specific) audio commentary by director Joseph Newman and Monroe biographer Jack Allen (recorded separately). Maybe because Love Nest is such a minor film, little of the commentary addresses the film directly. Newman, now 94, can only recall that production proceeded smoothly with "no trouble." He spends more time discussing his career and how he rose through the ranks of the film industry, reminiscing about his work with other directors, including Ernst Lubitsch, George Cukor, and Alfred Hitchcock. Allen, author of the recent photo tribute Marilyn By Moonlight, also skirts Love Nest, but offers absorbing insights into Monroe's personality and her relationships with colleagues, lovers, and husbands, and discusses how Marilyn was tortured by her dumb blonde image and couldn't understand Hollywood's preoccupation with physical beauty. Allen also provides background on Monroe's childhood and her progression from orphan to teen wife to model and eventually actress, and examines the positive and negative influences of her various acting coaches.
Extras Grade: B-
Final CommentsOnly diehard Marilyn Monroe fans will want to check out Love Nest, yet the up-and-coming star’s all-too-brief appearance still helps enliven this bland and stereotypical domestic comedy. Monroe collectors will surely want to add this rarity and the others in the series (Let's Make It Legal, We're Not Married, and As Young as You Feel) to their collection, but those seeking a one-night fling with Marilyn should stick to her more recognizable titles.
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