Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Young Man With Ideas (1952)

YOUNG MAN WITH IDEAS is a modest little domestic comedy about a lawyer struggling to get ahead in his career while raising a family.

Quiet Max Webster (Glenn Ford) writes winning briefs for trial attorneys at his Montana law firm but is continually overlooked for promotion. Max and his wife Julie (Ruth Roman) decide to make a fresh start in California.

While Julie is busy raising their three young children in a rental home which was previously the location of a bookie operation, Max studies for the California Bar exam by night and proves to be a hapless bill collector by day.

Complicating Max and Julie's lives are Max's study partner (Nina Foch), a singer (Denise Darcel) he meets when attempting to collect bills, and a local mafioso (Sheldon Leonard) who thinks Max is a bookie who needs to make good paying out on a bet.

It's all kind of cute, about on the level of a good quality TV sitcom, if not especially memorable. (This clip available on the TCM website gives a bit of the movie's flavor.) Ford and Roman make an attractive and believable couple, in terms of both strengths and weaknesses. I confess there were a couple times when I found Max's milquetoast attitude to be exasperating; at home his wife constantly talks past him, and he's so annoyingly wimpy as a bill collector that one wishes he would just quit and find a job more suited to his personality. Happily he finds his voice and stands up for himself near the movie's end.

Donna Corcoran is quite winning as Max and Julie's oldest child. The cast also includes Ray Collins, Nella Walker, Mary Wickes, Carl Milletaire, and Frank Sully. The man in the real estate office is Roger Moore, the older brother of Robert Young who played a couple hundred bit roles in a three-decade-long career.

YOUNG MAN WITH IDEAS is a pleasant but lesser effort by Mitchell Leisen. Leisen's many excellent films include EASY LIVING (1937), MIDNIGHT (1939), REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940), ARISE, MY LOVE (1940), HOLD BACK THE DAWN (1941), and NO MAN OF HER OWN (1950), to name just a few.

It was attractively photographed in black and white by Joseph Ruttenberg. The running time is 84 minutes.

This MGM film is not available on DVD or VHS, but it is shown periodically on Turner Classic Movies.

July 2014 Update: This film is now available on DVD from the Warner Archive.


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