Let’s Make it Legal

Apparently the title of this film is something to do with marriage, but all I could think of was Palpatine talking to those racist aliens in The Phantom Menace

The film begins in an uneasy domestic situation where young couple Barbara and Jerry (Barbara Bates, Robert Wagner) live with her mother Miriam (Claudette Colbert), ostensibly to support her through her imminent divorce but really because Barbara can’t be bothered to look after herself or their baby. To engineer their relocation, Jerry tries to marry off Miriam to anyone who will take her, whether that’s her gambling- and rose bush-addicted soon-to-be-ex hubbie Hugh (Macdonald Carey) or sleazy businessman-cum-ambassador Victor (Zachary Scott).7562473188_369715373a.jpg

From a Marilyn Monroe box set, Monroe features only briefly as Hugh’s new young love interest and doesn’t really make an impression. A fairly unexceptional romantic comedy setup, the film could go harder on both romance and comedy, managing only to be fleetingly amusing.

The romantic manipulation of Miriam is frustrating, as is her eventual reuniting with her ex in spite of the fact he’s still a gambling addict. But it has good performances from its leads, and Hugh in particular is a well-drawn character, feeling like a 1950s American version of the dad in Friday Night Dinner. As a result it somehow manages to be likable, resulting in a pleasantly enjoyable caper.

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