The Model and the Marriage Broker

The Model and the Marriage Broker is a 1951 romantic comedy film about a marriage broker. Though Jeanne Crain (as the model) is top billed, the movie revolves around Thelma Ritter's character (the broker), in a rare leading role for Ritter. Scott Brady also stars. The film is directed by George Cukor and produced by Charles Brackett.[2] At the 24th Academy Awards, it received a nomination in the category of Best Costume Design (Black & White) for Charles LeMaire and Renié. The award, however, went to Edith Head for her work in A Place in the Sun.

The Model and the Marriage Broker
Directed byGeorge Cukor
Produced byCharles Brackett
Written byCharles Brackett
Richard L. Breen
Walter Reisch
StarringJeanne Crain
Scott Brady
Thelma Ritter
Music byCyril J. Mockridge
CinematographyMilton R. Krasner
Edited byRobert L. Simpson
Distributed by20th Century-Fox
Release date
  • November 1951 (1951-11)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.5 million (US rentals)[1]


Through her "Contacts and Contracts" company, Mae Swasey is busy scheming to bring couples together. It is not very rewarding financially, and Mae is in debt. Even one of her seeming successes, Ina Kuschner's impending wedding to Radiographer Matt Hornbeck, does not go as hoped. Ina's mother refuses to pay Mae the agreed-upon $500 commission. Mae, however, gets the last laugh; Matt gets cold feet at the last moment and leaves the bride waiting at the altar.

When Mae goes to see another client, her purse is accidentally taken by model Kitty Bennett, while she gets Kitty's lookalike one. Looking inside for something to identify its owner, Mae reads a letter in which Kitty's current boyfriend apologizes for not mentioning that he is married (but wants to keep on seeing her). When the two women get together to exchange purses, Kitty becomes annoyed when she discovers Mae has read her letter and rejects Mae's advice to give the self-admitted "heel" up.

Kitty comes to apologize for her unkind words later. Mae talks her into breaking up with the married man, then tries to fix her up with Matt by pretending that Kitty may have swallowed a missing earring (which may have fallen into an omelet Mae was preparing) and requires an X-ray.

Mae's own sister Emmy shows up. Twenty years before, she had stolen Mae's husband. Now that she is recently widowed and lonely, she wants Mae to find her a replacement. Mae turns her down.

Matt and Kitty become a couple, but when Kitty learns about Mae's meddling and her plans to maneuver a commitment-averse Matt into proposing, she ends their friendship. Mae goes away to a resort to think things over.

When Kitty goes to make up with Mae at her office, she runs into Mr. Johannson, one of Mae's clients, who needs help desperately to patch up his relationship. Kitty reluctantly takes the absent Mae's place. Then Mae's friend Doberman explains how badly she hurt Mae, that Mae thought of her as the daughter she never had, and that Mae helps those who are shy, need a helpful push, or are not as pretty as Kitty. Afterward, Kitty tries to arrange a relationship for Mae with Dan Chancellor, a wealthy Canadian bachelor who had heard of Mae's service. Mae and Kitty become friends again, but Mae comes to realize she herself will never be lonely as long as she has people to help. She decides that Dan would actually be a better match for Emmy. In addition, Matt realizes he wants to marry Kitty after all, and gets her to agree to it. Finally, Doberman surprises Mae by presenting himself as her suitor.



Walter Reisch who worked on the film said it "worked like a million dollars. [Fox production head Daryl] Zanuck loved the picture so much that I don't think he eliminated one frame. I don't remember one marginal note in a script of 140 pages. We came in on budget, and Cukor's work was lovely, sensitive. We had a big success, and the reason The Model and the Marriage Broker didn't score an even bigger success was because it came just at the start of the age of CinemaScope and color, and that story certainly did not lend itself to CinemaScope and color. It was very intimate... But when it was finished... Zanuck was so involved in CinemaScope and had put so much money and publicity into CinemaScope that he simply treated this picture as a stepchild." [3]


  1. 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  2. "The Model and the Marriage Broker". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved September 6, 2016.
  3. McGilligan, Patrick (1991). Backstory 2: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s. University of California Press. p. 235-236.
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