Let's Make it Legal (1951) from Tuna

Let's Make It Legal (1951) is a classic romantic comedy in the Hollywood style of the late 40s and early 50s. It is currently rated 5.6 at IMDb, but had moviegoers voted at the time, it would have been much higher.

It stars Claudette Colbert at 48, near the end of her career, but still looking good enough to carry the romantic lead. Playing her daughter is the lovely Barbara Bates in her prime, age 26. The reason I watched this film, however, was that it featured Marilyn Monroe in a small role as a model near the beginning of her rise to stardom, age 25.

Claudette Colbert and Macdonald Carey play a couple close to finalizing a divorce she wanted because he seemed to care more about gambling than about her. He wants her back. He's the manager of publicity for a large hotel, and his son-in-law (Robert Wagner) works for him. His daughter wants her parents to reconcile, but the son-in-law has other ideas. The young couple and their baby daughter all live with Colbert, a situation that the son-in-law wants to end. Wagner sees a chance to end that undesirable living arrangement when Colbert's old flame (Zachary Scott) arrives at the hotel. His scheme is to get Scott and Colbert together so that his wife will have no further excuse for living with her mother.

The plot is reasonably predictable, although there was a nice little twist at the end which I personally liked. This was still the era of Ozzie and Harriet marriages, and we never see more than a little cleavage from the three women. There was no attempt to inject any realism. In fact, these films were romantic escapist fare, but featured beautiful women and amusing situations, while they explored some aspect of the age-old but friendly battle of the sexes.


None. See the main commentary.

DVD info from Amazon

  • full screen.

  • commentary by Robert Wagner

Something inside me still appreciates that kinder, gentler era, and I enjoyed this film very much. If you are also a sucker for this genre and have not seen it, it is worth the rental. It is as good as the genre gets, and the transfer, although there were some chips and one or two scratches, was very nicely re-mastered.

The Critics Vote ...

  • TV Guide rates it 2.5/5

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+.

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