Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tonight's Movie: The Young in Heart (1938) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The classic comedy THE YOUNG IN HEART (1938) has just been released on Blu-ray and DVD by Kino Lorber.

I hadn't seen this film since I first reviewed it here nearly a decade ago. Shortly after I first saw the movie, I had the amazing experience of seeing the movie's stunning car, the "Flying Wombat," at the National Automobile Museum in Reno, Nevada. Photos of the car may be found here; one is also at the end of this review.

Revisiting this film via Kino Lorber's beautiful Blu-ray was a real treat. This David O. Selznick production is quite delightful. I've always been a bit surprised this film isn't better known, and seeing it again underscored that impression. I hope new audiences will find this film thanks to this great-looking Blu-ray release.

The somewhat unusual story is about the Carletons, a family of fortune hunters, with Roland Young and Billie Burke the parents of George-Anne (Janet Gaynor) and Richard (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.).

When the Carletons are particularly down on their luck they meet the appropriately named Miss Fortune (Minnie Dupree), who takes them into her home. The Carletons determine to act like "normal," honorable people so that the elderly Miss Fortune will want to name them in her will...but then they find themselves actually enjoying things like...gasp...working for a living!

The father is so successful selling automobiles that he's eventually named branch manager, and Richard finds work at an engineering firm, where he's soon spending his spare time reading up on the business and making discreet inquiries about night courses. It rather reminds me of LARCENY, INC. (1942) a few years later, where crooks take over a business in order to have access to the bank vault next door, but then they discover they like running a store!

Although the scenes with Miss Fortune could easily be saccharine, the combination of Dupree's sincere performance and the film's overall humor keeps things from getting too sticky.

The cast couldn't be better, with Fairbanks at his most dashing and Gaynor pulling off an ingenue role despite being in her early 30s. Young and Burke, who also played a married couple in the TOPPER movie series, are delightfully droll.

Richard Carlson makes his film debut as George-Anne's Scottish love (he gets an "introducing" card in the credits), and Paulette Goddard plays an American businesswoman working at Richard's firm. Carlson and Goddard are both wonderful, and one of the refreshing things about the film is that both love interests are "on" to the family situation from the early going, so there are no dramatic negative revelations; instead, both Carlson and Goddard keep hoping their respective loves will reform.

Also of note: Goddard's role as a savvy, confident career woman is surprisingly modern and a nice surprise to find in a film of this vintage.

The film is a well-paced 90 minutes, although I've felt from the first time I saw it that there might be some scenes with Gaynor and Carlson which were left on the cutting-room floor, more's the pity. I'm not sure if the still above is a publicity photo or a missing scene; Gaynor wears this dress in other scenes in the movie.

Henry Stephenson plays Miss Fortune's lawyer. Smaller roles are played by Lucile Watson, Walter Kingsford, Irvin S. Cobb, and Margaret Early.

THE YOUNG IN HEART was directed by Richard Wallace. It was filmed by Leon Shamroy and, curiously, three uncredited cinematographers: William H. Daniels, Bert Glennon, and Ted D. McCord. The production design was by William Cameron Menzies.

For more on the history of the movie's "Flying Wombat," please visit this informative post.

The lone extras are the trailer and a gallery of four additional trailers for films available from Kino Lorber.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger barrylane said...

Ida Wylie's book is a must read for more than one reason, not least, that while the film captures its magic, there area changes in tone, character, and more than one significant event. It is also, grant entertainment. Look forward to your comments when, as and if you publish a further comment.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm intrigued! I have read that the movie's ending was changed after preview audiences reacted negatively to the original, which I suspect must be one of the changes from the book to which you refer. I've made a note about the book -- looks like used copies are a pretty penny on Amazon but I'll keep an eye out for it. Thanks!

Best wishes,

9:28 PM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

Great review Laura! And how fun that you saw The Flying Wombat in person. I like what you said about the possibility of this being overly sweet but it never gets there. I felt the same way! It was nice seeing Richard Carlson's film debut but I wish they hadn't made him do a Scottish accent.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Seth said...

Thanks, Laura; it sounds interesting. I just moved this title to the top of my ClassicFlix queue.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Raquel! Thanks so much! Seeing the Flying Wombat was really special and I highly recommend it!

It's fun we reviewed this film the same week; I hope everyone will also check out your review at Out of the Past.

Richard Carlson was so adorable ("once and for all!") that I forgave the accent coming and going LOL.

Seth, I hope you like it, Raquel and I agreed in our reviews this movie really needs to be seen by more people and I'm glad you'll be one of them!!

Best wishes,

11:05 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Agreed, this is a good one :-) I'm guessing Miss Fortune did die in the original story - which is what I was afraid would happen the first time I saw the movie. (I enjoyed it even more the second time, when I knew she didn't.)

Fun fact: the train wreck footage here (I don't know if it came from an even earlier source), was utilized for the opening of The Fugitive tv series, freeing a certain doctor to hide in lonely desperation...

11:06 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

A plethora of large and small details alter the tone. For example, the Marmee reference is not to Little Women but to a marmoset - a beautiful monkey with tufted ears. Duncan is somewhat more important in the novel and his father has significance as well.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

Ah, marmosets... a zoo I used to visit with my grand-parents had several different kinds, and I thought they were so adorable to watch (still do!)

4:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Love the interest in this title and hope more folks will see it.

That's an interesting bit of info on the "Marmee" nickname! As well as great info on the footage being reused for THE FUGITIVE. Thanks!

Best wishes,

11:01 AM  

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