Marilyn Monroe and Yves Montand in Let's Make Love (1960)


(director: George Cukor; screenwriters: Norman Krasna/Hal Kanter/Arthur Miller (uncredited); cinematographer: Daniel L. Fapp; editor: David Bretherton; music: Sammy Cahn/Cole Porter/James Van Heusen; cast: Yves Montand (Jean-Marc Clement), Marilyn Monroe (Amanda Dell), Tony Randall (Howard Coffman), Wilfred Hyde-White (John Wales), Frankie Vaughn (Tony Danton), David Burns (Oliver Burton), Mara Lynn (Lily Nyles), Milton Berle (Himself), Bing Crosby (Himself), Gene Kelly (Himself), Michael David (Dave Kerry), Dennis King Jr. (Abe Miller), Joe Besser (Lamont, Joke Writer); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jerry Wald; 20th Century Fox; 1960)
“If you can live with the plot making absolutely no sense, then you should be able to handle this uneven attempt at being a screwball comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Marilyn Monroe is the good-hearted sexy showgirl rehearsing for a new comedy/musical play opening and attending night school to better herself. Yves Montand is a stuffy French billionaire residing in NYC who falls madly in love with her, in this diverting comedy/romance played with a backstage musical setting. The lightweight comedy was more silly than funny, while the romance was more corny than romantic, and the plot is more stale than original, but the stars do the best they can with this material and make it at least watchable. This 27th picture of Marilyn’s is her penultimate and though not an embarrassment, yet it is certainly not one of her better ones. The one-idea joke, of the billionaire not recognized and passing himself off as a struggling actor, went on for too long–way past its shelf life. George Cukor (“The Philadelphia Story“) directs this project as if it were a truckload of gold he was carrying and he was driving cautiously so as not to hit any bumps on the road that would cause his valuable cargo to spill out. There were plenty of Broadway songs from the likes of songwriter Sammy Cahn, Cole Porter, and James Van Heusen, and to keep the men occupied Marilyn strutted around in tights and hotly sang the title song “Let’s Make Love.”

The new PR man Coffman (Tony Randall) has been hired to keep his tycoon boss, the seventh generation French billionaire Jean-Marc Clement (Yves Montand), out of the news. Coffman reports to his immediate boss, business manager John Wales (Wilfred Hyde-White), that he read in Variety a new off-Broadway musical is opening that is spoofing a number of celebrities such as Elvis, Maria Callas, and the thin-skinned publicity shy womanizing bachelor Jean-Marc Clement. To see if they can soften the show’s parody and show that Clement has a sense of humor, Coffman takes Clement unannounced to a rehearsal of the show. As soon as Clement sees the busty Amanda (Marilyn Monroe), he decides he wants her in the same authoritarian way he’s accustomed to always getting what he wants–as he believes people respect and obey him for his money. He’s mistaken by the casting director and everyone else at the show, including Amanda, for a Clement look-alike, as they assume he’s trying out for the part. When he sees Amanda can’t stand the snobby Clement and is not driven to meet a wealthy man, he pretends to be an out-of-work actor trying out for that part. It’s hard to believe no one in a show lampooning Clement would recognize him, but there you have the lame plot and might as well except it for the sake of the film.

Amanda keeps her distance from him by fawning over her co-star and boyfriend Tony Danton (Frankie Vaughn), who has the thankless role of being someone who might as well as well not even exist. He’s reduced to being an insecure singer with a liquor problem and with no enthusiasm to even want to hold Amanda in his arms, as he might as well be a cardboard prop for all he’s asked to do in this film. Clement seizes the opening and pursues her in the same persistent way he makes business deals. In a movie extolling Marilyn for not caring about money, the theme still points out that money still counts for a lot.

When Clement needs help in keeping his impostor act going, he secretly uses his money to influence the show in his favor. He buys a fresh joke from a professional joke writer for a thousand dollars to soften up the producer Oliver Burton (Burns) and impress Amanda. His right-hand man, the loyal Wales who helped raise him from childhood, uses Clement’s influence to put the money squeeze on Burton by raising rental fees for theater space and then rescues the show when he buys a controlling interest in it. Wales then hires Gene Kelly to teach Clement to dance, Bing Crosby to teach him to sing and Milton Berle to teach him a comedy act.

The movie plods along for far too long until it gets to its predictable conclusion, though there are enough Cole Porter tunes sung and enough wiggles from Marilyn to keep the movie from imploding. Marilyn is charming and sexy. Yves in his first English speaking role is debonair and very French. Wilfred Hyde-White offers a likable performance in a supporting role. If you can live with the plot making absolutely no sense, then you should be able to handle this uneven attempt at being a screwball comedy.