100+ New Code Films – #15. “Let’s Make It Legal” from 1951

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Today is Sunday, so it’s time for this week’s second 100+ New Code Films article. Many people have missed going to the movie theater for almost a year now. Instead, they have turned to Netflix and other streaming sources for finding new content to watch. My family too has been watching more Amazon Prime films during the last year than ever before, simply because we haven’t been going out on Sundays most weeks. However, the films are the same entertainment we have always loved. Instead of watching the latest releases in movie theaters or on streaming services, we find our “new” movies in the form of American Breen Era (1934-1954) films which we have never seen before!

Let's Make It Legal - Wikipedia

Today’s topic is Let’s Make It Legal from 1951. This is just one of the dozens of new Code films which we’ve discovered through Amazon Prime’s watchlist. Say what you will about Amazon, but I am very thankful that Prime Video offers so many Code films! Some of them are even offered for free with a Prime subscription, and countless others can be rented or bought. While Netflix and most other streaming services offer only a few older movies, Amazon offers hundreds of Code, pre-Code, Shurlock, classic British, and even silent films! We watched this film this morning after agreeing that the preview clip looked charming.

Review of Claudette Colbert in Let's Make it Legal (1951)


After twenty years of marriage, a couple’s divorce is about to be finalized. They have a grown daughter who is married and has a baby, but her husband is frustrated that they are living with her mother. The young wife claims that her mother needs her because of the divorce, but her husband insists that she just likes how her mother waits on her. Meanwhile, the soon-to-be ex-husband is distressed that his prize roses are being neglected in his absence. The daughter hopes that her parents will reconcile, but her mother is fed up with her spouse’s gambling compulsion. Things become more complicated when the wife’s old sweetheart, who is now a millionaire, arrives in town after years of absence. Now that she is getting divorced, he thinks he has a chance at becoming her second husband. The lady is tempted by his charm and the glamorous life he offers, but she wonders why he left town years ago without even a word of explanation.

Let's Make It Legal | Insert | Movie Posters | Limited Runs


This movie stars Claudette Colbert, Macdonald Carey, and Zachary Scott. Supporting actors include Barbara Bates, Robert Wagner, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Cady, and Harry Harvey Sr.

Let's Make It Legal (20th Century Fox, 1951). British Quad (30" X | Lot  #52217 | Heritage Auctions

Production Notes

This movie was directed by Richard Sale. It was produced by Robert Bassler. The screenplay was written by F. Hugh Herbert and I. A. L. Diamond. It was based on a story by Mortimer Braus.

Let's Make It Legal (1951) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

Code Compliance

This is a good Code film. It is entirely decent and Code-compliant. There is a slight spoiler regarding the ending because of this classification, since devoted readers of our reviews will know that divorce and remarriage always results in a poor Code film. Suffice it to say that the holy state of matrimony is upheld. This story also teaches an important lesson about the importance of young married couples’ independence so they can make their own life. With the usual, wonderful Breen Era values of no swearing, no suggestive dialogue, no indecent costumes, and no vulgarity, it is a delightful film which everyone can enjoy.

Let's make it legal (1951) | Richard Sale | Claudette Colbert Marilyn Monroe


I highly recommend this film! It is utterly delightful. The acting is perfect and charming. Of course, one of the most important thing is that it has a strong cast. Claudette Colbert is the primary character as the still-beautiful middle-aged mother, Miriam, who is vibrant enough to still attract her old flame while driving her husband mad. Macdonald Carey plays said husband, Hugh, whose antics to regain his wife and maintain some control in his crumbling household are relatable and hilarious. I especially enjoyed the business with his roses! A young Robert Wagner plays Jerry, the frustrated son-in-law who wants to get his wife out of her parents’ house, even though he has a charmingly close relationship with Miriam. The young wife is Barbara (Barbara Bates), who is very sweet but very funny in her reliance on her mother. She doesn’t overdo it, however; the characterization of the immature wife is very believable. Zachary Scott plays Victor Macfarland, the smooth operator who comes back into Miriam’s life to take her away from Hugh once and for all. Of course, we can’t forget to mention Marilyn Monroe, who is often given star billing on later posters and publicity images. However, she only played the minor role of a secretary in this picture, which was made before her stardom. The ladies’ costumes in this film are lovely, feminine, and modest, complementing their figures and ages without exploiting their persons. This is a delightful view of family life in the 1950s. I highly recommend it, especially for Claudette Colbert fans!

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