Coney Island with a monocle…. where the beach twinkles like a gold piece and the moon comes rolling out of a slot machine… here Millionaire Mama seeks a glamorous son-in-law, while Tired Papa looks for new ways to get trimmed… and here came the Carletons, a merry little streamline family exuding charm and a touch of larceny with every fortune-hunting smile…
Anthony Carleton (Roland Young), known to his family as “Sahib,” is not just a con artist. He’s the leader of a whole clan of con artists who do their work amongst the wealthy on the French Riviera.
Sahib cheats at cards. Marmy (the mother of the family, portrayed by Billie Burke) helps her children, Richard (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) and George-Anne (Janet Gaynor) find rich spouses.
When Sahib wins big money from Jennings (Irvin S. Cobb), the father of Richard’s prospective wife, his con-man ways are found out by the police. The police don’t arrest the family, instead sending them back to London.
The Carletons meet a number of interesting characters during their journey and back in London, including the elderly Miss Fortune (Minnie Dupree) and Leslie Saunders (Paulette Goddard). Meanwhile, George-Anne is reunite with her not-rich-enough beau, Duncan Macrae (Richard Carlson).
Richard Wallace directs The Young in Heart. The film is based on a novel by I. A. R. Wylie.
The Young in Heart is a bit of a slow-starter. The story sounds as though it would be incredibly interesting, but it took me a while to get into it. There’s a plot twist about twenty-five minutes in that gets things moving a little bit, but the film never did grab my attention fully. I was expecting a lot more from it, based on the premise.
On a brighter note, the performances aren’t bad at all. Most of them are not spectacular or particularly striking, but no one seems miscast. They all fill their roles well.
The Carletons are not easy to like, though they are at times amusing to watch, with all of their scheming. Janet Gaynor’s George-Anne is the most likable and seems the most honest. [MILD SPOILER] The scene in which she tells Duncan that she’s not good enough for him, due to her conniving ways, is very touching. [END SPOILER]
Paulette Goddard is nice to watch, too, in terms of supporting performances.
But the real star of the show is Minnie Dupree as the generous, lovable Miss Fortune. Her performance is moving, and her character very honorable. The way that she treats the Carletons, even when she finds out the truth about them, is admirable. She has a kind, forgiving spirit that we could all learn a bit from.
The Young in Heart isn’t a great film, but it does succeed in having an emotional impact on the viewer by the end, and the performances are all fine. I wouldn’t recommend it highly, but it may be worth a watch for those who enjoy sentimental films. The score: 2.5/5 (including a Cute Puppy Bonus)