Young in Heart, The (1938)

The Young in Heart (1938), directed by Richard Wallace.

An amiable family of grifters is ejected from Monte Carlo, spoiling their big scores. The daughter, Janet Gaynor (Sunrise (1927)), has begun to wonder about life among the normal folk: what would it be like to find true love rather than exploiting a mark for his money?

They attach themselves to a rich lonely old woman and save her from a train wreck. Moving into her mansion, they scheme on pretending to be loving and decent so maybe she will remember them in her will. Problem: you pretend long enough and it becomes real.

Not top shelf but a fairly rich romantic comedy/drama with a good amount of heart. One funny bit has the con-men surviving in the Depression with no concept of "work". Father (Roland Young -- The Philadelphia Story (1940)) and son (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. -- The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), The Rage of Paris (1938), Sinbad, the Sailor (1947)) spend an hour watching a construction site:


Father: Look at all those little fellows down there. Upon my soul I don't see what pleasure they get out of it.

Son: Still, that little fellow over there looks rather sincere.

Father: You think so?

Son: Mm-hmm.

Father: Picks up a sack from that pile, carries it over and puts it on that pile. Then he goes back for another.

Son: Well, he must get some enjoyment out of it, but on the other hand I don't see what he's after in life. I don't see his reasoning.

Father: No reasoning involved, my boy. Instinct. Biology. Something tells him to carry the little sacks back and forth, and so he has to do it.

Son: I see what you mean.

Father: Yes. Interesting problem, isn't it? Capital, labor, classes, masses, no jobs, no leadership. I wish I were younger, my boy.

(Noon whistle blows)

Father: Lunch. High time, too. It's been a hard morning.

(They depart, revealing a sign: MEN WANTED)

Billie Burke (The Wizard of Oz (1939)) is ditsy Mother, and Paulette Goddard and Richard Carlson are young love interests, the latter with an improbably thick Scots accent.

The futuristic "Flying Wombat" car was an actual one-of-a-kind prototype, the Phantom Corsair:

Franz Waxman score. Photographed by Leon Shamroy, with the IMDB listing William H. Daniels, Bert Glennon and Ted D. McCord as uncredited cinematographers.

I don't know the story behind the production; Lewis Milestone, Gilbert Pratt and Richard Thorpe are also listed as uncredited directors.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino.