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The Young in Heart

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The Young in Heart (1941) starring Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Roland Young, Billie Burke, Paulette Goddard
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The Young in Heart (1938) starring Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Roland Young, Billie Burke, Paulette Goddard

Synopsis of The Young in Heart

Thrown out of the Riviera, a family of grifters meets a lonely, vulnerable rich old woman and insinuate themselves into her life while they sponge off her.

Review of The Young in Heart

In short, The Young in Heart, is a simply wonderful movie.  It’s the story of a family of grifters, likeable cads that they are, who meet a rich old lady.  The old lady is not only rich, but lonely.  Circumstances enable the grifters to move in with the old lady for a while, and they play the role of respectable citizens.  Over time, they begin to fall in love with the sweet old lady.  They also begin to see some of the advantages of honest living.  For example, the family father is prone to exaggeration and being amiable — a natural car salesman.

Billy Bevan sells a dog to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Paulette Goddard

The pleasure of the movie is watching the change of the individuals over time, especially at the conclusion, where the old lady is ill — perhaps dying.  And the family doesn’t want the money anymore.  They simply want her to be alright.  And the lawyer informs them that there is no money left, and she’s likely to even lose the house.  The father stands and informs him that, as long as she lives, she’ll have a home – with them.

It’s a wonderful story of family, growth, and belonging, and it’s highly recommended.  Excellent performances all around, with some excellent actors.

Cast of characters in The Young in Heart

  • Marmy Carleton (Billie BurkeThe Wizard of Oz, Father of the Bride).  The matriarch of the family.  A ditzy, but loving, woman.  She truly cares for her family, and comes to love the old woman.  Her crowning moment is at the end of the film when the lawyer apologizes that there will be no money – and she stands up for the old lady.
  • “Colonel” Anthony ‘Sahib’ Carleton (Roland YoungTopperThe Philadelphia Story).  “Colonel” Carleton, a “retired military” man who never tires of talking about his experiences in India.  Although he’s never been to India, or in the military.  He’s a likeable scoundrel, who parlays his amiability into a successful career as a car salesman.  And then promoted to sales manager.  And he surprises himself that he’s actually good at it.  “Wait until you can see what the Wombat can do!”
  • Movie poster for The Young in HeartRichard Carleton (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.Having Wonderful TimeSinbad the Sailor).  The family son, who’s politely described as unmotivated.  The family was living on the Riviera, trying to find a rich spouse for Richard and George-Ann — before they were thrown out.  He finds his motivation when he falls in love with the beautiful Leslie, however.
  • Leslie Saunders (Paulette GoddardModern TimesThe Great Dictator).  The pretty young lady who starts to fall in love with Richard, despite his character flaws.  She even gets him a job working in the mail room at the engineering firm she works for.  She even plants the idea of his going to night school to become an engineer.
  • George-Anne Carleton (Janet GaynorA Star is Born (1927)).  Lovely, but cynical, George-Anne has a stone-hard exterior.  Which slowly gets melted, both by the love and kindness of the old lady, and the love of Duncan Macrae.
  • Duncan Macrae (Richard CarlsonHold That GhostIt Came from Outer Space).  The young man who legitimately fell in love with George-Ann, and follows her to America.  He slowly melts her heart.
  • Miss Ellen Fortune (Minnie Dupree).  The lonely old spinster, who meets the Carleton family on a train … after they’ve been thrown out of the Riviera, although she doesn’t know that.  She invites them to join her in her first class compartment.  They do so, and when the train derails, they save her life.  She’s grateful and invites them to stay with her while she recuperates.  They do so, and the Carelton’s family starts on a life-changing journey.
  • Mr. Anstruther (Henry StephensonMutiny on the BountyOliver Twist).  Miss Fortune’s lawyer, who is suspicious of the Carletons.  He eventually discovers their past, and informs Miss Fortune.  By this time, she has come to know them, and think of them as her family.  She reacts with compassion, and instructs him to write a new will — leaving her money to them.

Trivia for The Young in Heart

  • Silent film clown Billy Bevan has a cameo appearance as the man selling the dog to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Paulette Goddard
  • Film debut of Richard Carlson.

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