[box cover]

Let's Make Love

Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection, Vol. II

  • Don't Bother to Knock
  • Let's Make Love
  • Monkey Business (1952)
  • Niagara
  • River of No Return
  • Here's a musical comedy that falls flat in both camps. It's hard to not feel embarrassed (or, in Marilyn Monroe's case, perhaps uncomfortably sad) for those involved. By the beginning of the 1960s, Monroe's career was disintegrating. Her battles with barbiturates and tranquilizers, troubled marriages, and her international pop sex-symbol status had taken physical and emotional tolls for years. Like Elvis, she'd chosen too many disposable plastic movies. Those pictures serve only to remind us of the better ones where she was sexy and cuddly and dripping with comedienne potential — in Bus Stop, say, or especially Some Like It Hot. So it's no surprise that 1960's Let's Make Love is as tired and forgettable as it is. What's most memorable about this outing isn't anything you see onscreen. Rather, it was Monroe's offscreen affair with the French co-star of her own choosing, Yves Montand, then a screen idol in his homeland.

    The plot is bland dinner-theater fare: A famous billionaire (Montand, as charismatic as a week-old croissant) checks out the production of a Broadway play satirizing him, falls for the show's star (Marilyn, appealing yet anesthetized), and auditions incognito for the role of himself in order to be near her. It's a frayed clothesline on which director George Cukor hangs forced humor, cringe-inducing song breaks, and leaden dialogue. Cukor — best known for The Philadelphia Story (1940), the great Tracy-Hepburn comedies Adam's Rib (1949) and Pat and Mike (1952), and later winning an Oscar for My Fair Lady (1964) — here directs with all the panache of an unwanted contractual obligation. Indeed, Marilyn disliked the script but accepted Let's Make Love to fulfill her Fox contract. Her opening song & dance number, "My Heart Belongs to Daddy," offers muffled hints of why we fell in love with her, but like everything else here it generates all the heat of a poorly faked orgasm.

    The movie feels three times as long as it actually is, delivering no spark or snap. Not even Tony Randall as Montand's Smithers-like PR man or guest appearances by Gene Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Milton Berle, playing themselves, can save it. Several American actors turned down the Montand part, including Gregory Peck, who quit when the role was reduced by Monroe's then-husband, an uncredited Arthur Miller, to increase her screen time. Peck reportedly dubbed the end result "About as funny as pushing Grandma down the stairs in a wheelchair."

    *          *          *

    This DVD, part of Fox's Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection Vol. II set, may be for completist collectors only, but it gives Marilyn's true fans plenty to feel good about. The remastered, well-scrubbed print (2.35:1 anamorphic) looks super. The remastered Dolby 4.0 audio is clean and clear, though otherwise unremarkable.

    Like other DVDs in this series, the disc includes a short demo that showcases the restoration process, a gallery of stills, and trailers for other Monroe Diamond Collection titles. Keep-case.

    —Mark Bourne

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