Monday, March 24, 2014

Let's Make Love

One of the movies that's in the FMC/FXM rotation currently is Let's Make Love. It's airing twice this week: at 10:45 AM Tuedsay (March 25) and again at 8:00 AM Wednesday. (It'll also be airing again at the beginning of April.) It's also gotten a release to DVD, so even if you can't catch the FMC airings, you can still watch it.

Yves Montand plays Jeam-Marc Clement, the latest in a long line of French entrepreneurs. The family has been successful through the generations, to the point that Clement is a dollar billionaire, which is a lot in 1960 dollars. Unfortunately, he's also become a bit of a playboy, still not having a wife and any children to be his heirs and carry on the family businesses. Worse, is that his behavior has made it to the tabloids. Not only that, but his PR man Alexander (Tony Randall), who used to work on Broadway in New York, has learned that there's an off-Broadway production doing a parody of modern fame, and including Jean-Marc in that parody. This is unacceptable, and must be stopped!

So everybody decamps to New York City, where Alexander can use his Broadway connections to see what's going on with the new show mocking Jean-Marc, and see if anything can be done to stop it. Alexander and Jean-Marc go to the theater where rehearsals are being held, and the director quickly mistakes Jean-Marc for a would-be actor, which is forgivable since he's with Alexander who used to do PR for Broadway stars. Furthermore, it turns out that Jean-Marc can do an excellent version of this playboy the director is tryin gto spoof, and even bears somewhat of a resemblance to him; this is again forgivable since when the director asks Jean-Marc to say a few lines, he's of course imitating himself. They're willing to give him the part, but they don't believe him when they ask him for his name, which he claims is Jean-Marc Clement. So now Jean-Marc has to go under an assumed name, making things more complicated.

That's not the only thing complicating matters for him. There's also the lead actress in the play, Amanda Dell (Marilyn Monroe). Jean-Marc falls for her, but she's got night school and a somewhat boyfriend in Tony (Frankie Vaughan), an up-an-coming singer for whom this would be a big break. Amanda, however, begins to fall for this poor naïve actor with a French accent, not knowing that he is in fact a billionair. And that's a good thing since she doesn't like the snooty rich. (She shouldn't fall in love with saxophone players, either, but she's not very bright.) Meanwhile, there's the matter of keeping the show from lampooning Jean-Marc. His advisors have been getting busy on getting subsidiaries owned by Clement to get a controlling interest in the show and close it down, but Jean-Marc has pangs of conscience in that there are these people who have jobs and for whom this is the difference between eating and not eating.

The story itself is a bit lightweight. It seems like the logical conclusion for everybody to reach is for Jean-Marc and Amanda to wind up together, with her dislike of the rich overcome. but the way the story gets to the end is a bit abrupt. FMC, the last time I watched it, was putting this movie in a two-hour slot, and as the minutes ticked by the story seemed to be introducing more plot twists, rather than unraveling them in a satisfying denouement. Montand also seems a bit out of place when he's playing Jean-Marc playing an actor, although that may be deliberate in that the characer really isn't supposed to fit in.

There are some genuinely funny moments, however. One involves Jean-Marc trying to impress the rest of the theater company by telling them a new joke, so he buys one from a comedy writer, only for it to backfire. Later, in order to figure out what it is that Amanda finds charming in men, Jean-Marc hires Milton Berle to teach him comic timing; Gene Kelly to teach him how to dance; and Bing Crosby to teach him how to sing. Jean-Marc isn't quite capable of any of them.

Overall, Let's Make Love is a movie that's certainly not the best that Marilyn MOnroe did, but also not as bad as many of the reviews on a site like IMDb make it out to be. It's certainly worth a viewing on a rainy day, if not a movie you should go out of your way to see.

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