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George Cukor
Marilyn Monroe, Yves Montand, Tony Randall, Frankie Vaughan
Norman Krasna, Hal Kanter

Not Rated.

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 4.0
French Digital Mono
English, Spanish

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 5/14/2002

• Still Gallery
• Trailers
• Restoration Comparison

The Diamond Collection 2

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Let's Make Love (1960)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

Time for a trivia note: according to at least one source, Let’s Make Love took home the crown as the box office champ for 1960. I don’t know if that resource is accurate, but it seems likely that Love was a substantial hit for its era nonetheless. I saw the film on a list of every year’s biggest financial success. The chart went back to 1960, and Love’s presence on it surprised me more than any other. Heck, I’d never even heard of the flick before I read that chart!

Thanks to the release of the Marilyn Monroe “Diamond Collection 2”, I can now claim not only to have heard of Let’s Make Love, but also I can say that I’ve seen the movie. Why did this film do so well with that era’s movie-going public? I have little idea. While not an unenjoyable effort, it suffered from occasionally dull and muddled execution.

At the start of Love, we meet Jean-Marc Clement (Yves Montand), the descendant of a long line of extremely wealthy and successful men. They earned lots of money and went through women like they were wine, and Jean-Marc continues that grand tradition. However, a dark cloud appears on his horizon when he learns of an off-Broadway revue that will satirize the notorious playboy. When he goes to the theater to investigate - and most likely shut it down - he meets its sultry female star Amanda Dell (Monroe). He immediately becomes smitten with her, and when he gets an offer to perform as himself, he takes it so he can be around Amanda. Clement adopts the pseudonym Alexander Dumas to hide his real identity; too many women love him for his money, so he wants to get to know Amanda on his own terms.

Unfortunately for Clement, she already has a boyfriend: alcoholic Tony Danton (Frankie Vaughan), the show’s star. Because of this, he spends much of the film at a romantic disadvantage. However, he schemes behind the scenes to make himself look good. Through the use of his assistants Howard Coffman (Tony Randall) and John Wales (Wilfred Hyde-White), he gains control over the show and eventually takes on show business tutors to elevate his talents. That allows him to attain a larger part in the revue and hopefully spend more time with Amanda.

I won’t reveal how things end, but let’s just say you don’t need to be a super-psychic to see where things will lead. While it provides a nice twist, Let’s Make Love really offers little substance. I liked the general concept of the plot. It’s entertaining to see someone pretend to be someone else who plays himself; it’s a reasonably clever idea, and it had some potential. Unfortunately, the film really doesn’t take very good advantage of it.

A lot of the blame for the failure falls upon its stars. Love was the final film that Monroe finished; Something’s Got to Give never wrapped with her as its lead, as she got fired from it before completion. You can clearly see her deterioration in Love. She still looked pretty good at times, but she seemed somewhat heavy and tired. Bits and pieces of her innate charm emerged at times, but not enough. For the most part, she seemed like an afterthought in the film, as even with her natural charisma, she failed to make an impact.

It didn’t help that Montand displayed a very bland personality. He seemed like a cipher at the heart of the film, and he never provoked much interest or sympathy. He appeared to be a nice guy, but frankly, I couldn’t have cared less if he got the girl or not; in regard to his personality, he was a real dud. Montand and Monroe showed virtually no chemistry as well. Their shared scenes fell flat and really hurt the movie.

Honestly, the only saving graces I found during Love came from its solid supporting cast. I’ve always thought Tony Randall was an excellent performer, and he overcomes the thin nature of his role to make Coffman more entertaining and compelling than one might expect. Actually, he and the other supporting actors showed substantially more charisma and spark than did the leads; they made the film tolerable much of the time.

Although they were used as a gimmick, I must admit I really enjoyed the smattering of cameos from other stars seen in Love. A few famous personalities come on board to teach Clement some show business skills, and these appearances were consistently delightful. The simple anticipation of waiting to see who would emerge was enjoyable, and the performers didn’t disappoint.

Anytime my favorite parts of a movie came from some cameos, that means that the film is in trouble. I can’t state that I actively disliked Let’s Make Love, as the movie failed to inspire that level of passion in me. Anyway, it included enough entertainment to at least reach a certain level of general mediocrity. Unfortunately, that’s the most I can say for this fairly bland and lifeless little romp.

The DVD Grades: Picture C / Audio C+ / Bonus D-

Let’s Make Love appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While acceptable for a film of its age, I thought the picture showed too many flaws to offer an image that seemed better than average.

Sharpness seemed acceptable for the most part. At times, I felt the picture came across as somewhat soft and fuzzy, but those concerns never became extreme. While the movie lacked terrific definition, it generally remained reasonably clear and accurate. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, but edge enhancement could be a problem. I saw moderate levels of that issue fairly frequently throughout the film. As for print flaws, after a somewhat messy opening sequence, the rest of the movie appeared fairly clean. Some specks and marks appeared during the flick, but these remained reasonably minor for a film of this vintage.

Colors looked decent but bland. Skin tones appeared slightly greenish at times, and I felt the hues generally seemed moderately pale and flat. They weren’t terribly off-kilter, but they lacked many vivid or vibrant tones. On the other hand, black levels looked pretty deep and rich, and shadow detail was appropriately heavy but not excessively dense. Overall, Let’s Make Love remained consistently watchable, but the image was something of a disappointment nonetheless.

Slightly superior was the Dolby Digital 4.0 soundtrack of Let’s Make Love. Localization of speech caused the main concerns. Dialogue tended to bleed across the front speakers, and it often appeared improperly placed. Sometimes when lines should have come from one side, they tended to emphasize the other instead. This didn’t occur constantly, but it happened enough to be a distraction.

Otherwise, the soundfield showed reasonably accurate placement of elements. Music displayed nice stereo spread across the front, while effects remained general but they added acceptable ambience. The surrounds contributed very little to the mix. They provided some very general reinforcement of the music and effects, but that was it; they seemed to be a non-factor for the most part.

Audio quality seemed somewhat erratic as well. Again, dialogue caused the heaviest concerns. Speech displayed an annoying sense of reverberation that sounded artificial and compressed. In addition, I noticed some brittle and edgy tendencies to the lines at times. Dialogue remained intelligible throughout the film, but it lacked any natural qualities. On the other hand, the light effects seemed reasonably clear and accurate, while music showed fairly positive fidelity. I wouldn’t say that the score and songs were robust, but they displayed nice depth and brightness considering the age of the film. Overall, the positives of the music were enough to overcome some of the negatives heard in the speech, but I still wasn’t comfortable with anything above a “C+”.

For the five DVDs that come as part of Fox’s “Diamond Collection 2”, we find very similar extras. All five include the same set of trailers. We discover ads for River as well as “Diamond 2” mates Don’t Bother to Knock, Monkey Business, Niagara and River of No Return. In addition, we get an ad for the original “Diamond Collection”.

After that we locate a Still Gallery. This domain includes 20 images. Those consist of publicity photos and shots from the set. None of these appear fascinating, but they’re moderately interesting.

As with all of the discs in the original “Diamond Collection”, Love and the other “Diamond 2” release offer a Restoration Comparison. This lets us see the changes from older releases of the film and the current one. I think these seem somewhat self-serving and a little pointless, but it can be interesting to note the improvements.

Although Let’s Make Love had the potential to be a fairly fun and lively comedy, it failed largely due to the flatness of the interaction between its leads. The movie boasted some good talent in supporting roles, but the primary actors showed little chemistry or life, and that caused the flick’s fatal flaw. The DVD provides mediocre picture and sound plus no substantial supplements. Leave Love for the more dedicated Marilyn fans in the audience.

Note that Let’s Make Love can be purchased on its own or as part of Fox’s Marilyn Monroe “Diamond Collection 2” set. The latter includes four other movies: Don’t Bother to Knock, Monkey Business, Niagara, and River of No Return. For dedicated fans of Marilyn, the “Diamond Collection 2” offers a nice bargain. It costs only $79.98 list as opposed to a total of $99.90 for the five films on their own. Granted, you’d need to really love Marilyn to want that much of her material, but if you fall into that category, it’s a great idea.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.375 Stars Number of Votes: 16
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