Sunday, November 07, 2021

Tonight's Movie: Young and Willing (1943) - A ClassicFlix DVD Review

ClassicFlix has released a number of interesting single-title DVDs this year, including the previously reviewed THE DUKE OF WEST POINT (1938) and THE CRYSTAL BALL (1943).

One of the most recent releases, No. 17 in the ClassicFlix Silver Series line, is YOUNG AND WILLING (1943). YOUNG AND WILLING was originally produced at Paramount Pictures but was released by United Artists.

The movie, written by Virginia Van Upp -- who also wrote THE CRYSTAL BALL -- was based on a Broadway play, INTO THE FRYING PAN, by Francis Swann. The 1941 Broadway cast included Barbara Bel Geddes and Alfred Drake.

YOUNG AND WILLING tells the story of half a dozen aspiring actors -- three guys and three gals -- who all live together in a New York apartment paid for by the father (Jay Fassett) of giddy Dottie (Martha O'Driscoll). The other ladies are confident Kate (Susan Hayward) and sweet Marge (Barbara Britton).

The fellows are Norman (William Holden), George (Eddie Bracken), and Tony (James Best). The deal is that there will be no romantic goings-on among the roommates, maintaining respectable appearances in what then was considered a rather scandalous rooming situation -- but unbeknownst to the others, Tony and Marge have gotten married. What's more, Marge is hiding the fact she's going to have a baby!

The group are trying to get the attention of Kenny (Robert Benchley), a theatrical producer who lives in the apartment below theirs, but right as their plans are taking off, Dottie's concerned father appears in town from Illinois. Dottie's old friend Muriel (baby talking Florence MacMichael) has ratted out her living situation, and Daddy thinks maybe Dottie should come back home.

Madcap situations ensue as the group try to prevent Dottie's father from knowing the boys live in the apartment, while they also try to get work from Kenny and Marge tries to hide her baby news.

YOUNG AND WILLING won't go down in history as a great movie, but I quite enjoyed it, finding it pleasant company. There's a definite sense that one is watching a filmed play, with most (but not all) of the action taking place in the apartment; unlike other films, that "filmed play" aspect actually kind of works here. It's a fun show, and one gets to feel just a bit of what it might have been like to see this comedy on Broadway in the '40s.

The cast is wonderful; it's especially fascinating seeing two future Oscar winners, Hayward and Holden, among the group. Hayward in particular radiates charisma.  

I've always liked both O'Driscoll and Britton so the cast really worked for me. I particularly wish the multitalented O'Driscoll, who also sang, had a bigger career, but she retired for a happy and productive offscreen life.

MacMichael's baby talking becomes as annoying as her character, in part because she has so much screen time. She was one of two holdovers from the Broadway cast, the other being Mabel Paige as the landlady.

YOUNG AND WILLING was directed by Edward H. Griffith and filmed in black and white by Leo Tover. It runs 83 minutes.

The DVD print is on the soft side, with scratches here and there, but it's quite watchable and has no distracting skips or jumps. The print fits in with the Silver Series goal of getting movies into collectors' hands in decent prints but without major restoration work. The sound quality is fine. My fellow classic film fans will probably be as pleased as I was to have this film available on DVD for the first time.

The DVD also contains five trailers for additional films available from ClassicFlix.

More ClassicFlix Silver Series DVD and Blu-ray reviews are ahead!

Thanks to ClassicFlix for providing a review copy of this DVD.


Blogger mel said...

Thanks for your announcement and review of YOUNG AND WILLING on DVD, Laura. I applaud ClassicFix for making these obscure but entertaining old movies available through their Silver Series line. Can't wait to get my copy!

2:15 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Mel, I hope you enjoy it too! I'm delighted with the work ClassicFlix is doing. I'll have more ClassicFlix reviews up as soon as I have time -- some really interesting releases.

Best wishes,

11:34 AM  

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