The Model and The Marriage Broker (1951)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

USA, 1951Screenplay by , , Cinematography by Produced by Charles Brackett.  Music by Production Design by , Costume Design by Film Editing by .

Thelma Ritter is excellent as the latter half of this delightful comedy’s title, fixing up the lonelyhearts of New York City who feel hopeless about finding a mate. After her purse is accidentally switched with that of a beautiful department store model (Jeanne Crain), she befriends the girl and sets her in the way of a commitment-phobic doctor () with whom she’s had no luck as a client. Crain has no idea that she’s part of a professional set-up but is won over by Brady’s aggressive charm, and Ritter goes on about her business as a matchmaker until she is found out and it causes a rift in the womens’ relationship. This George Cukor charmer is the perfect example of what top-flight Hollywood screenwriters can do with any scenario: despite having a silly plot rife with unlikely contrivances, and even though there’s nothing in the description to suggest anything too breathtaking, writers Charles Brackett, Walter Reisch and Richard L. Breen find a way to put bits of juicy story into every turn of the plot and the conflict is always at a maximum. Despite its focus on the romantic leads, the film gets plenty of good material out of its supporting cast, particularly a hilarious tea party that Ritter throws for her clients (one of whom is played by Nancy Kulp) and keeps its intelligence and energy throughout, save possibly for the last few minutes in which the plot takes a weird turn. At the end of the day, however, the show is entirely Ritter’s: between that unforgettable accent that can’t hide her good sense and class, and her diminutive stature that still reads as energetic and vital, the then-49 year-old actress is every bit the movie star, and in a rare lead role (despite the third billing) she’s the one you can’t take your eyes off of.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Costume Design-BW

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