Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Revisionist history with Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe became one of the icons of the 1950s for fairly obvious reasons. One of the results of this is that there are some movies out there that get billed as being Marilyn Monroe films and her presence in the cast is used as a selling point for the DVD. Such is the case with Love Nest, which is airing tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM ET on the Fox Movie Channel. Although that's Monroe on the cover, she's really only billed fourth, and doesn't have that big a role.

The top billing here actually goes to June Haver. She plays Connie Scott, the wife of an Army man about to come home from the war. Connie needed a way to make money, so she put all of the couple's savings into a mortgage on a New York City apartment building, and figures that she and her husband will be able to live off the rents from the tenants, while her husband Jim (William Lundigan) gets his writing career going again. If Connie had been smart, she would have watched movies like Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and realized that buying a fixer-upper is a terrible idea. But all their savings is tied up in the place, and they have to make a go of it.

Love Nest is only partly about the struggles the couple has keeping the apartment building going as a business; there are two other back stories going on at the same time. One involves the Monroe character. Her character is named Roberta, nicknamed Bobbie. Bobbie was a WAC during the war, and it was oh-so-convenient for Jim to refer to her as "Bobbie" in his letters home to Connie, leading her to believe Bobbie was a man. Once Connie finds out Bobbie was a woman, she naturally suspects that Jim has a romantic involvement for Bobbie. Jim and Connie's lawyer friend Ed (Jack Paar), however, has no woman at home to worry about, and is free to pursue Bobbie.

The other story involves Charley Patterson (Frank Fay), one of the tenants. We first see him leaving another apartment where he's passing himself off as a mining engineer with a different name (and a whole slew of business cards with different names on them). When he gets to the Scotts' building, he claims he's Charley, an estate appraiser. In fact he's a con artist who makes his money off of unsuspsecting old ladies who have more money than they know what to do with it, and nobody to do it with. Charley, however, finds himself beginning to fall in love with one of his neighbors at the apartment; she's not somebody he can con simply because she doesn't have the money for it.

Love Nest is a competent, but not particularly memorable movie. Everything works out a bit too neatly at the end, but you have to know going in that things are going to work out. Still, Love Nest is worth a viewing.

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