‘Let’s Make Love’: Marilyn’s Last Song and Dance

In the latest installment of his ongoing series for Classic Movie Hub, Gary Vitacco Robles looks at Marilyn’s ‘last completed musical comedy,’ Let’s Make Love (1960) – with additional costume notes and behind-the-scenes trivia.

“The plot’s premise borrows from the previous year’s hit Pillow Talk in which a man pursues a woman disinterested in his playboy reputation by disguising himself as more sensitive and approachable. Even Some Like It Hot was a more skewed variation on the formula.

Director George Cukor, accompanied by songwriters Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen and musical director, Lionel Newman, traveled to Monroe’s Manhattan apartment to audition the musical score. Using her white baby grand piano, the team sang four original songs created for the film … The four men had a rare glimpse of Monroe as a stepmother when, in middle of a song, she jumped up and attended to her young stepson and his best friend.

Monroe wore two of her own dresses in the production. One is the designer Jean-Louis’s sheath with bolero jacket which she frequently wore to events from 1958-1962 … In the ‘Specialization‘ number, Monroe dons a spangled silver gown adorned with bugle beads that she had worn to the premiere of Some Like It Hot in March 1959.

Monroe’s opening number, a Beatnik version of Cole Porter’s standard ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy.’ The six-minute sequence was on the scale of ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ and ‘Heat Wave’ … It is a vigorously acrobatic number, probably the most difficult of her career. Cukor shot the sequence slowly in fifteen second takes while Monroe mimicked the dance moves modeled off-set by Jack Cole … The number took eleven days to complete.

A pivotal scene—obviously scripted by Miller—establishes the emotional connection between Amanda (MM) and Clement (Yves Montand.) The scrapped dialogue could likely have been a conversation in the Miller living room on East Fifty-Seventh Street … Amanda describes the exhilaration she feels during a good performance and her connection to the audience: ‘You’re home. Like in a family.’ ‘How well I know,’ Marilyn printed next to this last line on her working copy of the script…

Fox promised ‘The Best Entertainment Offer You’ve Had in Years!’ and organized a premiere in Reno, where Marilyn was scheduled to film The Misfits. Rather ominously, the city experienced an electrical blackout on the evening of the event. The premiere was canceled and never rescheduled.

With all its deficits, the film is average; but the public expected a Marilyn Monroe film to produce above average results. Regardless, Monroe is delightful and approachable in the role. She speaks in her natural voice, her manner is natural and unaffected, she portrays Amanda as an approximation to the real Monroe.”

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