Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tonight's Movie: The Young In Heart (1938)

Today seemed to be the day for viewing movies set on the French Riviera. After finishing BLUEBEARD'S EIGHTH WIFE, I watched THE YOUNG IN HEART, which opens in France, although the majority of the film is set in England. THE YOUNG IN HEART is a beautifully acted comedy-drama produced by David O. Selznick.

The movie is about the Carletons, a family of card sharps and con artists who use their trickery to avoid actually working for a living. The senior Carletons are played by Roland Young and Billie Burke (also known as Mr. and Mrs. Topper), while their children Richard and George-Ann are played by Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Janet Gaynor.

When the family meets kindly Miss Ellen Fortune (Minnie Dupree), they find themselves slowly, inexorably changing for the better. The male Carltons even end up...working! Will they go through with their plans to fleece Miss Fortune? And what about Richard and George-Ann's wary romantic interests?

Paulette Goddard and Richard Carlson (his film debut) play Fairbanks and Gaynor's love interests and are particularly charming; Paulette plays Leslie, an American businesswoman working in an engineering firm (a fairly unstereotypical role for its day), and Carlson is delightful as Gaynor's Scottish love, Duncan, who regularly pledges to leave her "once and for all!" due to his disapproval of the family's "lifestyle," yet can't bring himself to stay away. I liked that Leslie and Duncan are "on" to the family from almost the outset, so the story was centered more on whether or not Richard and George-Ann could reform suitably than Leslie and Duncan finding out the Awful Truth.

The performances are uniformly excellent, and the acting and overall elegance of the production prevent it from slipping into being overly sentimental in the scenes with sweet Miss Fortune. Interestingly, the film originally had a somewhat darker conclusion which was changed due to negative reactions at previews.

The development of Gaynor and Carlson's relationship could have used a little more screen time, but apparently the filmmakers didn't agree; above is a still from what appears to be a scene which wasn't in the film. Gaynor wears the same dress in a scene near the end of the movie.

The movie was directed by Richard Wallace. It was filmed in black and white and runs 90 minutes. The supporting cast includes wonderful character actor Henry Stephenson as Miss Fortune's suspicious lawyer.

The film features a remarkable car, the Flying Wombat, which now resides in an auto museum in Reno, Nevada.

THE YOUNG IN HEART has been released on DVD and video.
The video copy I watched had a fairly significant amount of strange marks like "X's" go across the screen every so often, but the picture was otherwise good; while not the optimal viewing experience, the problem was not so bad as to prevent the movie from being enjoyed. An Amazon review indicates the DVD picture quality is excellent.

Update: Here are photos of the Flying Wombat which I took on our visit to the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada during the summer of 2008.

January 2018 Update: THE YOUNG IN HEART has been reissued on DVD and is also available for the first time on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. My review of the Blu-ray is here.


Blogger Irene said...

Another title available at the county library and so have requested it. Bluebeard's Eighth Wife was not.

I watched His Butlers Sister this weekend. Cute movie. Deanna Durbin could really sing. And that last number was spectacular. One of my favorites.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hope you enjoy THE YOUNG IN HEART too, Irene. So glad you had fun watching HIS BUTLER'S SISTER. I love Franchot Tone's awestruck look during the finale. It was a beautiful scene in every way.

Best wishes,

8:26 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

Watched this on VHS today. The only copy available from the library was colorized. A lot of films were tampered with this way in the 80's and it looks like this was too. It was a good job but all the same I would have rather seen it in B & W. Also the print on this tape was fine, no x's running across it.

I really enjoyed this movie. I love the way Billie Burke spoke. I kept thinking of the Wizard of Oz :)

I have a couple of other movies you've mentioned recently on order at the library.

6:59 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this, Irene! It sounds like it was a win-lose proposition with the print -- colorized but no distracting X's (grin).

I especially enjoyed Richard Carlson in was a fun movie. Let us know your thoughts on what else you watch! :)

Best wishes,

8:26 PM  

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