Judge Daryl Loomis swallows earrings so he can hit on their owners.
"Lonely, shy, seems kinda comical when you read it in an ad, don't it. Ain't so comical when it happens to you."
Today, if we so desire, we can go online to a number of sites to find our next great love. But, before the salad days of the Internet, it was up to a certain class of person to hang up a sign and find the lonely and desperate somebody to shack up with. It was this subject that one of cinema's all-time great directors of romantic comedy, George Cukor (Adam's Rib), took up for The Model and the Marriage Broker, a mixed bag of a film that isn't up to his standards.
Mae Swasey (Thelma Ritter, Birdman of Alcatraz) is a marriage broker who deals in some sorry, lonely individuals who have been eluded by love. She gets a kick out of fixing people up, and when a chance mix up of her purse with another, she finds a tasty note from a cheating husband apologizing to his mistress. When the owner arrives, it is a beautiful department store model named Kitty Bennett (Jeanne Crain, Leave Her to Heaven). Mae immediately gets into gear, advising her on her love life and trying to get her to leave that philanderer. Kitty insists that she needs no help, but Mae is unswayed, finally fixing her up with Matt Hornbeck (Scott Brady, Gremlins), a handsome X-ray technician whom she'd worked with before. They're against it at first, but soon, their collected attractiveness can't be denied.
The only real thing to take away from The Model and the Marriage Broker is the chemistry between Jeanne Crain and Scott Brady, who look great and work well together. What they have to do isn't anything to write home about and the obstacles they face to love are genuinely stupid, but I can easily believe in them as a couple. Thelma Ritter doesn't have the same resonance as the marriage broker, but her character is around for some pretty sorry comic relief and has a meager hand in the ending, so doesn't really have to be anything but a standard issue character.
That's the biggest problem with the movie; it's a paint-by-numbers romcom without a whole lot going for it. Cukor's direction is fairly solid without any real problems; the problem is in the writing. None of the jokes works and the story progression is patently obvious from about fifteen minutes in. As soon as Jeanne Crain shows up, everybody will know exactly what will happen from that moment. It's lazy, dramatically simple, and not very funny, all of which means death for a romantic comedy.
The Model and the Marriage Broker comes to DVD from Fox, through their on-demand Cinema Archives label. It's a bare-bones release, but technically pretty good. The 1.33:1 transfer is cleaner than I expected it to be, with good contrast and no significant damage to the print; a few specks here and there, but nothing to really complain about. The mono sound is basically noise-free with perfectly acceptable dialog and music, but nothing particularly special. There are no extras on the disc.
Good performances and decent direction by Cukor are undone by a predictable and shallow script, making The Model and the Marriage Broker only a marginal success. Hardcore classic film fans will appreciate parts of the film, but casual viewers can probably skip this one.
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