Let’s Make It Legal (1951)

Barbara (Barbara Bates) and her husband Jerry (Robert Wagner), along with their baby, have moved in with Barbara’s mom Miriam (Claudette Colbert). Normally that would make for a pretty full house, but there’s one absence: Barbara’s dad, Hugh (Macdonald Carey).

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Miriam and Hugh are in the middle of a divorce, which is entering its final stages. And in the meantime, Hugh is living at the hotel where he works. Barbara is completely opposed to the idea, wishing her parents would get back together.

Barbara is unwilling to give up hope, but when one of Miriam’s pre-marriage flames (Zachary Scott) comes to town, her hopes may be deflated.

Let’s Make It Legal was written by F. Hugh Hebert and I. A. L. Diamond, from a story by Mortimer Kraus. The film was directed by Richard Sale.

A soon-to-be-finalized divorce, a love triangle, a newborn baby, three generations living under the same roof… Let’s Make It Legal is a tale of suburban chaos. To make matters worse, Jerry works for Hugh. And that old flame of Miriam’s? Well, he happens to be a suave, self-made millionaire.

The film hints at serious issues like gambling, which plagued Miriam and Hugh’s marriage, but generally handles its subject matter lightheartedly.

It’s also only lightly entertaining. While there were a handful of amusing moments, I didn’t find myself wholly gripped by the film. It feels somewhat like a TV pilot rather than a well-developed big-screen romantic comedy.

(Image via Classic Movie Favorites)

The film’s greatest appeal comes from the performance of Claudette Colbert, who does well as Miriam, a former homemaker with a suddenly very active romantic life. Also of interest is an appearance by Marilyn Monroe, though the role isn’t one of her best — a stereotypical sultry, dumb blonde. (She was talented and deserved much better!)

Let’s Make it Legal is a lackluster film, I’m sorry to say. If you want to watch a cute Claudette Colbert film, stick to Without Reservations or Midnight.


3 thoughts on “Let’s Make It Legal (1951)

  1. Written by I.A.L. Diamond, but no Billy Wilder in sight! This may be the first film I’ve heard of that featured Diamond without Wilder…too bad it wasn’t as good as their many collaborations. Nice to see Claudette was still making movies into the 1950s, too.


    1. He actually wrote several without Wilder! Three screenplays written on his own that I know of, but quite a few non-Wilder collaborations, too. (And many more enjoyable than this one, luckily haha.)


      1. I’ll have to look those up…I’m curious to see if they match the manic wit of ‘One Two Three’ or the style and smarts of ‘The Apartment’. (I just checked…’Monkey Business’ with Cary Grant!)


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