Case Number 04503: Small Claims Court


Fox // 1951 // 76 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bryan Pope (Retired) // May 28th, 2004

The Charge

Marriage can be a funny thing.

The Case

Indeed it can, but you'd never know that by watching the 1951 situation comedy Let's Make it Legal.

McDonald Carey (The Great Gatsby) stars as Hugh Halsworth, a hotel publicist (and compulsive gambler) who wants to make another go with his wife, Miriam (Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night), who has filed for divorce. Complicating matters is multimillionaire bachelor Victor Macfarland (Zachary Scott, Mildred Pierce), Miriam's old flame who blows back into town and has his sights set on romance.

What the great, charismatic Colbert is doing in this piece of fluff is beyond me, but even she can't save the material. The characters are mostly unsavory, particularly Miriam's daughter, Barbara (Barbara Bates, The Inspector General), whose sole purpose in life is to take advantage of her mother's hospitality and goodwill. Almost as reprehensible are the scheming Hugh and Victor. If these are Miriam's options, she should have packed up and fled town under cover of night. No, she does a little manipulating of her own and then sticks around for the film's absurd, tacked-on happy ending. Throughout it all, this viewer laughed not once.

Still, it was interesting to see Robert Wagner (The Pink Panther) in a substantial role -- one of his earliest -- as Colbert's son-in-law, not to mention the one-and-only Kathleen Freeman (The Blues Brothers) in a bit part. Marilyn Monroe also bounces across the screen occasionally as a young vixen trying to woo Victor away from Miriam.

Other than that, Legal has almost nothing worth recommending, a point that has apparently not gone unnoticed by Twentieth Century Fox. How else do you explain Monroe's face being splashed all over the packaging and menus despite the fact that she is given about six minutes of screen time?

Never mind legal. Next time, let's just make it funny.

Let's Make it Legal is presented in its original full-screen aspect ratio, with sound provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono. Legal looks and sounds much better than you'd expect, for such a slight film. Those inclined to purchase it won't be disappointed by the presentation. Includes English and Spanish subtitles.

It amazes me that Fox ponied up a commentary track for such a forgettable film, but there you have it. Wagner is on hand to discuss the film, and it's not a bad listen. In fact, it almost makes the movie worth sitting through. Almost. He fondly recalls the old studio system and the advantages and privileges of being under contract. It's an interesting glimpse into a Hollywood that no longer exists. Also included are the film's theatrical trailer and trailers for other Marilyn Monroe films.

Review content copyright © 2004 Bryan Pope; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 55

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)

* English
* Spanish

Running Time: 76 Minutes
Release Year: 1951
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Theatrical trailers

* IMDb