The opening scene of Let's Make it Legal reveals the old beauties of post-WWII suburbia: white houses, white fences, lawns lined with cars and dotted with rosebushes. Enter Hugh Halsworth (Macdonald Carey), who cares deeply about his own rosebushes. He makes special trips to the home he used to share with his soon-to-be ex-wife Miriam (Claudette Colbert) to tend them, much to her annoyance. Hugh and Miriam will soon see their divorce finalized. While Miriam feels elated, proclaiming several times she does not need a man, Hugh fights his grief. He "won" Miriam in a gamble years before, and considers it his luckiest moment.
Now, enter Hugh's competitor in the gamble and Miriam's old flame, Victor (Zachary Scott). Victor, a wealthy "businessman," spends the film pursuing Miriam, and convinces her to become engaged. To counter this, Hugh flaunts a blonde tart, Joyce, (Marilyn Monroe) in Miriam's face, but she does not convey jealousy.
Then there's the Miriam's live-in couple: the daughter, the son-in-law (Robert Wagner), and their newborn baby. The daughter refuses to grow up, as she asks Miriam to take care of the baby and keep house for her. While I admire how Wagner's character constantly calls her out for this while keeping so darn handsome, it remains an annoying subplot in this otherwise cute film.
And it boasts cuteness. I could not get over the happy ending. Claudette always gives a good performance, as does Marilyn (even though I always find it odd watching her early films where she plays smaller roles), but Macdonald Carey stole my heart. What a romantic.
At only an hour and sixteen minutes, Let's Make It Legal may not provide layers of depth, but I am always down for alternate retro worlds where nothing but the best persists. Wunderbar!