This is the second to last in Marilyn movie reviews (not counting my upcoming review of My Week with Marilyn). I’m officially done with both my Marilyn Monroe box sets (I’ve only had them for over a year) and this movie cements Marilyn into the harsh world of 1960s. She’d do one other completed movie after this one, which will be discussed tomorrow before succumbing to an untimely death (I’ll go over this more in the wrap-up). Unfortunately, Marilyn’s foray into the 1960s with Let’s Make Love is a far cry from her fantastic performance in the 1959 movie Some Like It Hot. The problems lie in this movie’s need to be hip and it’s lackluster leading man Yves Montand. I didn’t hate this movie as much as Bus Stop, but I certainly didn’t like it.
Billionaire Jean-Marc Clement (Montand) discovers that an off-Broadway revue is going to satirize his life story which includes numerous failed relationships and general economic excess. When he goes to the theater to have the play stopped he meets the beautiful leader performer Amanda Dell (Marilyn). Jean-Marc gets mistaken as an actor auditioning for the role of…who else but Jean-Marc and he gets hired.
Let’s start off with Marilyn herself in this movie. She plays Amanda Dell whose a struggling actress and takes pity on the poor Jean-Marc masquerading as Alex Dumas (get it…no one else does until the end of course). She’s sweet and naive and that’s really it. According to IMDB, Marilyn’s husband at the time Arthur Miller changed the script to give her more time but it seemed she had no characterization. I didn’t know anything about her like we did with Sugar or Kay or any of her other characters. If anything we get an extremely watered down version of Sugar. She’s a nice girl trying to get an education because “I was sick of being ignorant” and that’s it. Sure she wants desperately to keep the show together but that’s kind of the same character she played in There’s No Business Like Show Business. She’s not a ditz, she’s not a bitch, she’s just…there.
The majority of the movie seemed devoted to Yves Montand and the slew of celebrity cameos called in by director George Cukor. Montand is dull and arrogant as Jean-Marc and I’m not sure all of that can be attributed to the character. Montand is just boring, he shows up intent on ruining the play, gets mistaken for an actor and just goes with it! Sure it’s because he’s trying to get into Amanda’s pants but the whole premise runs on everyone believing he’s an actor. There are newspapers, how can no one recognize he’s the REAL guy. They all just say “the resemblance is so uncanny” and you’re supposed to believe it. Is this the Prince and the Pauper all of a sudden? Montand himself isn’t remotely attractive, just French which I guess is supposed to make him hot (that and his money) and his singing is awful. The relationship between him and Marilyn lacks any chemistry (funny considering the two had a doomed affair during filming) and you’re never sure what he’s trying to achieve out of the relationship. First, he wants to prove she isn’t into him for the money…then it’s to prove something about power? The cameos from Bing Crosby and Gene Kelly just painfully prove how untalented Montand himself is.
Cukor also tries too hard to make the movie “hip.” You can see the beginnings of the 60s influences in the jazzy scored and quirky numbers Marilyn performs, but they’re just off-beat. You meet Marilyn as she performs the Cole Porter song “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and you know they’re making a play about Clement but how the hell does that song fit into his life? In fact, how does Marilyn’s character in the play fit into his life? We’re meant to believe the play is the staging element, how the characters can’t say what they want but perform it (a precursor to All That Jazz I guess), but the two elements never connect. I never connect how the songs performed by Tony Danton (Frankie Vaughan) connect to the play, the movie, or the relationship between Amanda and Jean-Marc. If anything we just see Jean-Marc try to prove himself as an actor.
Let’s Make Love is a weird movie with a flat lead. You never understand what story is truly the heart of the movie and Marilyn and Montand have zero chemistry. Let’s hope the concluding movie, The Misfits, doesn’t leave this month on a down note.
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.