THE MODEL AND THE MARRIAGE BROKER
(director: George Cukor; screenwriters: Walter Reisch/Robert Breen/Charles Brackett; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editor: Robert Simpson; music: Cyril Mockridge; cast: Jeanne Crain (Kitty Bennett), Thelma Ritter (Mae Swasey), Scott Brady (Matt Hornbeck), Zero Mostel (George Wixted), Helen Ford (Emmy Swasey), Dennie Moore (Mrs. Bea Gingras), John Alexander (Mr. Perry), Jay C. Flippen (Dan Chancellor), Kathryn Card (Mrs. Kuschner), Shirley Mills (Ina Kuschner), Maudie Prickett (Delia Seaton), Michael O’Shea (Doberman), Nancy Kulp (Hazel), Frank Fontaine (Mr. Hjalmer Johannson), Blythe Daley (Receptionist); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Charles Brackett; Fox DVD; 1951)
“A breezy romcom that has some charm but falls flat when it tries to also be perceptive.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A breezy romcom that has some charm but falls flat when it tries to also be perceptive. George Cukor(“Travels With My Aunt”/”My Fair Lady”/”Heller in Pink Tights”) directs without surprises, everything predictably falls in place by the end of the third act. Writers Walter Reisch, Robert Breen and Charles Brackett offer a cluttered script that handcuffs the talented thesps more than it gives them freedom of expression. Scene-stealer Thelma Ritter, as Mae Swasey, a divorced NYC marriage broker, carries the pic with her cloying antics that some viewers, not me, might like more than others. I found her antics growing increasingly tiresome and the ongoing sentimentality becoming unbearable.
Early on we witness the aggressive marriage broker, Ms. Swasey, chastise oafish Swedish client Johannson (Frank Fontaine) for not being aggressive enough on a first-date, sign up the timid plain looking Hazel (Nancy Kulp) as a client, seek out the reluctant client, the socially awkward optometrist George Wixted (Zero Mostel), in his office and begs him to give her another chance to get him his dream girl and visits the handsome X-ray technician Matt Hornbeck (Scott Brady) to surprisingly find out he’s marrying Ina Kuschner (Shirley Mills). Showing up at the Kuschner wedding because Mae was stiffed by Mrs. Kushner (Kathryn Card) of her $500 commission, she finds out Matt jilts Ina at the altar.
When Mae finds that in a mix-up she has the purse of the model Kitty Bennett (Jeanne Crain), she reads the love letter in the purse. When the purses get returned in Mae’s office, she tells the model to dump the married man because he’s a heel. The confused model turns up at Mae’s apartment on Sunday, not realizing she’s a matchmaker, and Mae, picturing the attractive Kitty as the daughter she never had, fixes up Kitty with Matt on the house, as she sends her to Matt for an x-ray.
All the romantic situations are contrived, the comedy never works and the stilted dramatics seem perfunctory. It’s your standard-issue sitcom, a pic whose time has come and gone. Under Cukor’s by the numbers direction, it offers little compassion for the lonely-hearts who are thrown into action as if puppets on a string and asked to show their loneliness on cue.
REVIEWED ON 9/4/2013 GRADE: C+