Quality film news, reviews and features
24th October 2004 00:00:00
Posted by†Gary Couzens

Let's Make It Legal

DVD Video Review
Hugh (Macdonald Carey) and Miriam Halsworth (Claudette Colbert) got married, had a daughter Barbara (Barbara Bates) who is married to Jerry (Robert Wagner) and has produced a grandchild. Now Hugh and Miriam are getting divorced as a result of Hughís gambling. But a complicating factor is the arrival in town of Miriamís old flame Victor Macfarland (Zachary Scott)Ö

Despite future Billy Wilder collaborator I.A.L. Diamondís presence in the writing credits, this is a middling romantic comedy that feels overstretched even at an hour and a quarter. As with its box-set companion (As Young as You Feel, released the same year) itís let down by anonymous direction. At the helm here was Richard Sale who was primarily a writer who had left cinema directing for television by the end of the Fifties. Also, none of three leads are particularly distinguished. Macdonald Carey had a very long career (with some interesting films towards the end of it, including Itís Alive III and American Gigolo) but much of it is undistinguished, competent but rather dull. Zachary Scott was a much more notable actor whose career was cut short by his death in 1965, aged 51, from a brain tumour. But this film would certainly not rank as one to set against Mildred Pierce, Ruthless and The Southerner. He plays Macfarland in full-blown lounge-lizard mode, so vain and self-regarding that heís almost camp. You wonder if Victor is one of those codified gays that turn up now and again in Hollywood movies Ė not labelled as such, but obvious as to what theyíre intended to be Ė if you know where to look. On the other hand, the writing in this film is weighted more towards the men, and Claudette Colbert has little to do. Oh, and Marilyn Monroe? She turns up in a few scenes as a bathing-beauty friend of Hughís.

Letís Make It Legal drags by the half-way mark, and the revelation of precisely how Hugh won Miriam from Victor all those years ago is too little and too late. This one is for Monroe completists in the main, with little to attract anyone else.

Letís Make It Legal makes its DVD debut as part of Foxís Marilyn Monroe: Classic Collection Volume Two box set. As I write (October 2004) it isnít available separately in the UK, though it is in the USA.

Again, this DVD release shows that even minor releases like this are being kept in good condition. This transfer of a film more than fifty years old has hardly a scratch or a spot to be seen. Blacks and whites are solid in this monochrome film, and the varying shades of grey are well rendered. The only thing preventing me from giving this transfer full marks is the fact that itís grainier than I guess itís intended to be, and it just misses that vital something which distinguishes the great black and white DVD transfers. Be assured that the picture quality is very acceptable though. As youíd expect from an Academy Ratio film, the transfer is full-frame 4:3.

The sound is the original mono, a very professional mix balancing dialogue, music and sound effects. Itís up to major-studio standards of the day, which got the best out of the resources available to them, and a 5.1 remix would be entirely pointless.

There are twenty chapter stops. The disc is encoded for both Regions 2 and 4. There are no extras, not even a trailer. The commentary from Robert Wagner that is on the Region 1 version is absent here, presumably removed to make way for an Italian dub.

Letís Make It Legal isnít a bad film, just a middling one that hasnít really stood the test of time and is of interest for the presence of a future star in a small role. However, if you are going to buy the box set of which this forms a part, itís nice to own and to have an opportunity to see it, though I suspect repeat viewings wonít be a priority for this film.
Details and Specifications
DVD Video Review



20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Running Time:
74†mins approx
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono

English hard-of-hearing

Richard Sale

Main cast:
Claudette Colbert
Macdonald Carey
Zachary Scott
Barbara Bates
Robert Wagner
Marilyn Monroe
Frank Cady
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About Gary Couzens
Gary's first review for this site was in March 2000 and he's still here. You'll find him reviewing old and new, English-language and foreign, talkie and silent. He's had a strong interest in Australian cinema since watching BBC2 seasons in the early 1980s and in 2010 finally visited the country after wanting to for thirty years. As well as writing DVD and film reviews, he has had short stories published, including a collection in 2003, and is working on novels. He edited the anthology Extended Play: The Elastic Book of Music (Elastic Press, 2006) which in 2007 won the British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology.

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