Two Shades of Satire: Let’s Make Love (1961) + On the Avenue (1937)

July 26, 2018 | By

One of the many reasons I enjoy reviewing classic Hollywood films is tracking down and comparing a remake with an original, since Hollywood’s never had a problem in revisiting hit films or reworking good ideas. A great example is the noir classic House of Strangers (1949) with Edward G, Robinson, Susan Hayward, and Richard Conte remade as the dark western Broken Lance (1954), with Spencer Tracey, Jean Peters, and Robert Wagner in the tweaked roles.


Dick Powell, Madeleine Carroll, Alice Faye, and the Ritz Bros. in On the Avenue (1937).


Musicals have never been immune to revisitations, such as the B&W classic On the Avenue (1937), remade in CinemaScope and stereo as Let’s Make Love (1960). The former featured Dick Powell, Madeleine Carroll, and Alice Faye in a sort of love triangle in which an heiress and her over-sensitive father seek to shut down a satirical musical, whereas the latter has Yves Montand playing a billionaire masquerading as an aspiring bit actor to woo the co-star of a satirical play.


Marilyn Monroe & Yves Montand in Let’s Make Love (1960).


LML proved to be Marilyn Monroe’s next-to-last film, and amid all the gossip on romances and personality issues, it’s aged quite well, perhaps because it’s so beautifully shot, and like OTA, features superb character actors.

Whereas OTA has yet to enjoy a second restoration to upgrade the film for Blu-ray, LML proved easier for Fox, hence a nice HD master used for Twilight Time’s Blu-ray. I still think a Monroe mega-set is called for – gathering everything she did, on Blu – but LML was perhaps left out of Fox’s smallish set because it represents an older Monroe in a film that isn’t as iconic as her classic 50s work for the studio.

The surprise is LML holds up very well, as does OTA, and both are proof good ideas retain their value, but the films endure because care went into key elements. Monroe is LML’s main attraction, but the original remains a musical-screwball comedy classic with a stunning cast. I never liked the Ritz Bros. because the few shorts I caught made them appear as third-rate Marx Bros. wannabes, but OTA reveals their manic genius as an insane troupe with incredible physical dexterity; their schtick has some similarities to Danny Kaye, but the lunacy is threefold, and on crack.

Coming next is Bruno Mattei’s Strike Commando (1987) and Robowar (1988); a comparison between the 1942 and 1955 versions of My Sister Eileen (the latter on Blu from Twilight Time); and VCI’s Hal Roach Forgotten Comedies, featuring The Housekeeper’s Daughter (1939), Turnabout (1940), and Road Show (1941) – the last two co-starring My Gal Sal’s Carole Landis.




Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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