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Janet Gaynor, won the first Oscar for 3 silent films but had a considerable talkie career in the 1930s. At 32, she retired from films, and The Young in Heart was her final film. She mad once more film appearance in the 1950s. This is a subtle little film, and Gaynor plays against type as a con artist. Actually her brother and parents are con artists also. They happen upon a little old lady and move in with her in high hopes of getting her money. Sweet little comedy also boasts Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Billie Burke, and Roland Young as the family members. They are all terrific. Minnie Dupree is quite wonderful as Miss Fortune, and Richard Carlson, Paulette Goddard, Henry Stephenson, Billy Bevan, Eily Malyon, and Lucile Watson co-star. Not a screwball comedy, but more a comedy of manners, this is nonetheless a delightful if rarely seen little gem. Gaynor was so awful in her early talkies (like Sunnyside and Delicious) but somehow she learned the new medium and became a solid actress. She is wonderful in A Star Is Born, Three Loves Has Nancy, Small Town Girl, and The Farmer Takes a Wife. Too bad she quit films at such an early age. Fairbanks was always underrated. Goddard makes a nice impression here as well. And what about those Flying Wombats!
While producer David O. Selznick was best-known for his epic
productions and romantic dramas, he occasionally dabbled in comedy -
with the most satisfying result, perhaps, being the Carole Lombard
Technciolor vehicle NOTHING SACRED (1937). THE YOUNG IN HEART, however,
isn't too far behind and it's an unjustly neglected comedy classic!
The film deals with the money-grabbing exploits of a family of con artists comprising father Roland Young, mother Billie Burke, and their two offsprings - Janet Gaynor and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. - which, basically, hinges on Young passing himself off as a distinguished veteran of the British campaign in India (actually he and his wife were stage actors and he had played such a military role in Canada: its characteristics have stuck all these many years - and the title of Colonel with them!). In fact, when we first see them, Fairbanks is about to marry into a wealthy family at a chic Riviera setting but their scam is discovered at the last minute and, rather than being thrown into jail, are given a ticket each to go do their 'work' elsewhere! They find themselves on a train bound for London, where they meet a lonely old lady (Minnie Dupree) who has suddenly found her former lover's fortune in her lap; the Carletons (the con-artist family's assumed name) believe it to be a golden opportunity and, it appears, that even Fate is willing to lend them a hand as the train is wrecked and they save the old lady's life - after which they're invited to stay with her as long as they like!!
Pursuing them to London is a penniless Scotsman (a debuting Richard Carlson) - named Duncan Macrae! - who had fallen for Gaynor, even if he's aware of her true nature; Fairbanks' love interest, on the other hand, is provided by a sexy Paulette Goddard. The Carletons, however, are anxious that Dupree doesn't become aware of their ultimate intentions - so they propose to demonstrate to her (and her suspicious solicitor, played by Henry Stephenson) that they're self-sufficient: Young and Fairbanks are, thus, sent off by the women in search of work - the horrified look on the two men's faces on their first day as normal salary-earners (accompanied by Chopin's funereal march on the soundtrack) is priceless! However, they both manage to make good of it - at which no one's more surprised than the family itself: Young is promoted from car salesman (his demonstration of "The Flying Wombat" - what passes for a futuristic car in 1938 - is a highlight of the film) to manager, while Fairbanks sets his mind on engineering...though it doesn't hurt to have a boss like Goddard! By the film's end, of course, the family - save for perennially ditzy Burke - has reformed under the benevolent influence of too-good-to-be-true Dupree, while Gaynor is re-united with Carlson and Doug Jr. marries Paulette.
The comedy here is provided mainly through brilliant dialogue, but a few charming sight gags (including the presence of a scruffy little dog and a penguin!) are nicely integrated; Selznick's typically glossy production values (cinematographer Leon Shamroy, composer Franz Waxman and production designer William Cameron Menzies - enough said!) also lend the film a definite sophistication, while the acting is uniformly faultless: nominal leads Gaynor (whose last film this was until a 1957 comeback!) and Fairbanks weren't renowned for playing comedy but, here, they both demonstrate a deft light touch; the ever-reliable (and delightful) Young has one of his best roles; as for Goddard and Carlson, they both manage to rise above the limits imposed by their supporting roles.
If one had to put in a negative word, one might say that Burke's absent-minded matriarch is a bit much (though the fount of undeniable hilarity) and that the inherent sentimentality which marks the family's turnabout is not only an acquired taste (in fact, both Leslie Halliwell and Leonard Maltin tend to de-emphasize this aspect in their glowing assessment of the film!) but even unwarranted in a screwball comedy - though, ultimately, it's perhaps too genteel to be considered as such...but, then, what do you call a film with a scene in which Dupree is herself seen recklessly driving the speeding car, to the consternation of passenger Stephenson!! Still, all of this is negligible when stacked against the film's overwhelming positive qualities, as both craft and entertainment: this is truly one of the best comedies in an era full of such films...
Made in 1938, and starring Janet Gaynor and Douglas Fairbanks Jr, THE YOUNG
IN HEART also introduced two newcomers, notably Paulette Goddard and
Carlson. It also featured Bille Burke and Roland Young. The story is
a clever family of spongers who latch onto an older rich lady who lives
alone and is need of companions. Their intentions are to make her like
them, which she does, and eventually get her to leave everything to them in
Along the way, to impress her doubting attorney, Young and Fairbanks go out to find a job, something they have never done in their entire lives. Fairbanks runs into Goddard, as he applies for a job, and is smitten (who wouldn't be), and Young learns his trade as a car salesman very well, beginning to take pride in his endeavors.
This is a lovely film with performances simply stated. It was produced by David Selznick and directed by Richard Wallace. Selznick was, at the time this picture was being filmed, looking for a cast for his up and coming production of GONE WITH THE WIND. A bit of trivia: Paulette Goddard was the first choice for Scarlett O'Hara beating out other outstanding stars trying for the coveted role. That is until Vivien Leigh came along. Leigh got the role Goddard was after. Leigh auditioned for the role in THE YOUNG IN HEART that Goddard got.
This is a movie which makes you want to sigh 'Aaaah' at the end when
you first see it and look for it's faults later.
True, it's often over sentimental and contains a performance from Minnie Dupree as the old lady, which may invoke the occasional murderous thought, but it's a nice film, which leaves you completely satisfied and at peace with the world.
The splendid cast includes Janet Gaynor and Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, neither of whom were renowned for playing comedy but they are both excellent. Best of all is Roland Young as the father in possibly the finest performance of his distinguished career. A word also for Billie Burke, as the scatty mother, although I tend to find her performance a little irritating. Perhaps that's how it should be?
The support cast includes Richard Carlson in his first screen part and the lovely Paulette Goddard who do well in the limited roles they are playing. And of course Minnie Dupree.
All in all, a great little film that only the hard of heart could possibly dislike.
What a delightful treat this little movie turned out to be! Not daffy enough to be considered a screwball yet too amusing to be regarded as anything but a comedy, "The Young In Heart" (1938) shows us what happens when an entire nuclear family of con artists finally gains a conscience, while living with a sweet, rich old lady who they are trying to bilk. And what a bunch of performers have been collected to portray that family! Roland "Topper" Young (in heart) plays the father, Sahib; everyone's favorite twittery witch, Billie Burke, is the mom; Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. is the son; and Janet Gaynor, here in her last role before her comeback 20 years later (in "Bernardine"), plays the daughter. All give delicious comedic performances, and are ably abetted by former stage actress Minnie Dupree, excellent and understated as the little old lady, and Paulette Goddard, who Dougy is trying to woo. This is a David Selznick picture--it came between the previous year's "A Star Is Born" and the following year's "GWTW"--and is yet another class production for the legendary showman. But the real operative word for this film is "charm," which it exudes more than any other single ingredient. And my goodness, just how pretty is Janet Gaynor here, right before her retirement? Well, she makes even the yummy-looking Paulette Goddard look second best, and that should tell you something! Anyway, all in all, this picture is a real joy, and the crisp-looking DVD offered here only adds to the pleasure.
The Young In Heart is the story of the Carleton Family an civilized and
amiable a group of grifters that the screen ever portrayed. The members
are Roland Young and Billie Burke and their children Douglas Fairbanks,
Jr. and Janet Gaynor.
On one train trip where Janet's caught the eye of earnest Richard Carlson and Doug is maybe getting in over his head with southern belle Margaret Early, the family makes the acquaintance of an ingenuous old woman played by Minnie Dupree. They seem to hit it off, even more so after a train wreck and the Carletons look after her.
Dupree's family is long gone and she lives in genteel splendor in a very big house in London. In a burst of generosity she invites the whole family to stay with her. It's an opportunity to good to pass up, I know I wouldn't pass up free lodging even for a short spell.
But in order to keep up appearances and maybe she'll leave them the place in a will, they have to get jobs to appear on the up and up. At least the men folk do. Doug gets a job in an engineering firm, he charms Paulette Goddard into hiring him in an entry level position. And Young gets a job selling a brand new state of the art British car, the Flying Wombat. Both the guys especially Young prove really good, although you have to admit that selling cars should be something an accomplished grifter could take to right away.
In order for The Young In Heart to work the part of the old lady must be carefully cast and played. Minnie Dupree in one of her very few screen appearances is great in the part, bringing the right amount of charm to the role without it becoming maudlin. When you think about it, her's is the most important part, the whole film is structured around it.
Next to Dupree, I like Young the best. He's got a great scene when instead of being fired because they've found out he's a crook, he's offered a promotion to general manager, he's done that well.
I've known a few people in my life, one in particular who was one of the brightest people I've ever met, but who spent his whole short life of some 31 years on earth, running one big revolving con game. He was hard to dislike like the Carletons are, but you could never really get close to him. And if he'd ever applied himself honestly, he could have been a success in any field that interested him.
That's the charm of The Young In Heart, the thought that some people like this can be redeemed. Or maybe that in itself is a big con.
The Young In Heart got Oscar nominations for musical scoring and cinematography. Certainly one talented and charming cast gave it their best and the film is a delight.
Never heard of this film and I was very surprised that Janet Gaynor, (George-Anne) performed in this film which seemed to have been forgotten in the vaults over the years. The story deals with a family called the "Carletons" who are professional con-artists who look for wealthy widows in need of friends and comfort or even card games and gambling. As time moves on, these crooks discover a little old lady they met on a train who is very lonely and very rich and the crooks hope they can con this lady to change her will which will allow them to retire from the rackets. However, this little sweet old lady changes the direction of this entire film. There are great performances by Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks,Jr., and the introduction of Richard Carlson to his first role in a picture. Enjoy
I.A.R. Wylie's serialized story "The Gay Banditti" becomes a heart-warming sentimental-comedy from producer David O. Selznick. A family of con-artists on the Riviera, about to bilk a former Senator out of some three million dollars, are asked to leave the country by the authorities; they're penniless, but luckily they meet a kindly old lady on the train to London and are asked to stay as guests at her mansion. The screenplay curdles with cuteness now and then (and certainly that unmemorable title hasn't enhanced the film's reputation), yet an enjoyable time is had by all. The first-rate cast (headed by Janet Gaynor as the "rotter" daughter) works the material fabulously, and there's a sweetheart of an automobile (the Flying Wombat). Also, a butler who adores Dominoes, a suspicious lawyer, a sharp working girl (Paulette Goddard, naturally stunning), and some satiric laughs while gently poking fun at the working class. *** from ****
Janet Gaynor, Roland Young, Billie Burke, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
meet Minnie Dupree, who is "The Young at Heart" in this 1938 film.
Gaynor et al are the Carltons, a family of con artists. When we first
meet them, Richard Carleton (Fairbanks Jr.) has nabbed a live one, an
unattractive albeit wealthy young woman, and George-Anne (Gaynor) has
met a Scottsman (Richard Carlson), who is broke. However, they're found
out and have to go on the lam. On the train, they meet an old lady,
Miss Fortune, and when the train crashes, they get her outside. She
credits them with saving her life. Realizing she's lonely, they move in
with her for two weeks while they figure out their next destination.
When they realize she has money, they decide to make their living
situation permanent, figuring she'll put them in the will. Well, a
funny thing happens on the way to the con.
This film might not be to everyone's taste - some will find it overly sentimental - but it is definitely to my taste. Vivid characters, funny scenes, and with good performances, "The Young in Heart" is a warm film. Paulette Goddard plays the young woman whom Fairbanks Jr. meets, and she's lovely.
Without this fine cast and the direction by Richard Wallace, this might have been a sappy movie. Janet Gaynor looked sweet, but she was also a very good actress. Here she's smart and believable. Fairbanks Jr. is always wonderful, as are Billie Burke and Roland Young. Minnie Dupree is delightful as Miss Fortune.
A very satisfying film, a nice ending - highly recommended.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is certainly one of David O. Selznick's lesser known gems, best
described as a "sweet" little comedy/drama about a family of grifters
who rescue a lonely and wealthy old lady (MINNIE DUPREE) in a train
wreck and decide to accept her offer of sharing her mansion with her
for as long as they wish.
They start off with bad intentions but have a reversal of heart once they get to know the old lady. It's handled in a very tasteful manner with a cast that is entirely responsible for making the material seem better than it is. The odd family of grifters includes JANET GAYNOR, DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, JR., ROLAND YOUNG and BILLIE BURKE.
Lesser roles are played deftly by RICHARD CARLSON and PAULETTE GODDARD, second leads in the romance department.
Stage actress Dupree is charming enough to make the story seem reasonably believable and HENRY STEPHENSON as her solicitor is excellent, as usual.
It's such a tastefully filmed production that it comes as no surprise that it's from the Selznick studio. Janet Gaynor, although not a favorite of mine, has rarely been seen to better advantage. Paulette Goddard registered stronger in subsequent roles at Paramount where her flair for comedy was more evident.
The word "sweet" comes to mind in describing the film's overall effect. Some may find it a little too sugary, but it passes the time pleasantly.
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