Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Claudette Colbert, join the club

Joining the list of older actresses who got some lousy roles later in their careers, you can watch the normally entertainng Claudette Colbert in the not very good Let's Make It Legal, tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 PM o nthe Fox Movie Channel.

Colbert plays Miriam, a wife who's about to get a divorce from her husband Hugh (Macdonald Carey), in part because he's a compulsive gambler, and in part because he's an utter drip. If you thought Michael Rennie was boring in Teenage Rebel, he's got nothing on Carey. Miriam lives with her daughter Barbara (Barbara Bates) and son-in-law Jerry (Robert Wagner), who works for... Hugh, at the hotel Hugh managaes. Oh dear. Anyhow, there's only 24 hours until the divorce decree is final, and everybody but Hugh can live happily ever after.

That is, until wealthy Victor (Zachary Scott) comes back to town. He just happened to be Miriam's high-school sweetheart, and when he discovers that Miriam is about to become a divorcée, he begins to put the moves on Miriam again. Jerry would love this, as it means his mother-in-law would move in with a new husband, and Jerry and Barbara would be able to live on their own, as all young couples ought to do. Barbara, on the other hand, loves having Mother do things for her, and would even be OK with Mom and Dad getting back together. Victor, meanwhile, has his status to worry about; he's reminiscent of Wallace Beery's character in Dinner At Eight in that he's made a lot of money and is being asked to go to Washington to work for the government. So, he wants to marry Miriam as soon as possible, before there's any controversy.

You can probably guess where all this is going to end up, and frankly, it's not for the better that the film is so predictable. On top of that, the characters aren't particularly likeable. Finally, the whole thing comes across as contrived and forced, which makes it not so funny.

Let's Make It Legal has gotten a DVD release, however. That's probably because of the presence in the cast of one Marilyn Monroe. As with Love Nest last month, Monroe only has a small part, here playing a woman at the hotel who wants to get introduced to a rich guy like Victor, even though he has no interest in her. Still, her presence makes for an easy way to advertise the movie now.

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