As I continue on in celebrating actress and singer Doris Day as my Star Of The Month, I will now be looking at her 1954 film Young At Heart, which also stars Frank Sinatra. But, before we get to the movie, we have a few theatrical shorts to get through!
Coming Up Shorts! with… Tops In The Big Top (1945)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection)
Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.
(Length: 6 minutes, 26 seconds)
Circus ringmaster Bluto tries to sabotage star attraction Popeye to get the attentions of Popeye’s assistant Olive. At best, a decent Popeye cartoon, with the usual stuff going on. This one is a lot more fun to see the visuals, with a lot of nice color (especially with this short restored). An improvement over the previous cartoon, but still debatable about its actual worth in seeing more than once.
Coming Up Shorts! with… Pink Ice (1965)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
The Panther is operating a diamond mine, but a pair of rival miners steal his diamonds. One of the rare few Pink Panther cartoons in which the character actually talks. Whether you like that or not, it’s still a fun cartoon, with the two rival miners trying to set traps to stop him from taking back his diamonds, and then the traps work against them. Every now and then, this one can be fun to watch!
And Now For The Main Feature…
Music professor Gregory Tuttle (Robert Keith) lives with his three musically inclined daughters and his sister, Jessie (Ethel Barrymore). His oldest daughter, Fran (Dorothy Malone), has just gotten engaged to Robert Neary (Alan Hale Jr.). The plumber Ernest Nichols (Lonny Chapman) is interested in middle daughter Amy (Elisabeth Fraser), but she is kind of indifferent about his affections. Youngest daughter Laurie (Doris Day) is single, and makes a pact with sister Amy that they will either have a double wedding, or stay spinsters together for the rest of their lives. Things change up when Laurie meets composer Alex Burke (Gig Young), the son of a friend of their father. He manages to charm his way into boarding at their house while he works on the score for a Broadway musical. He catches the eyes of all three daughters, but he finds himself falling for Laurie in particular. Eventually, things go well enough on his show that Alex recruits his friend Barney Sloan (Frank Sinatra), an arranger, to help him work on the music. When Laurie meets Barney, she finds him to be quite cynical, as he believes that the “fates” (or “they,” as he refers to them) have it out for him. Laurie is unwilling to let him get away with that attitude, and tries to help him past it by pushing him to finish writing a song he had been working on. Right around her father’s birthday celebration, Alex asks Laurie to marry him, which she accepts, much to the dismay of Barney and her sister Amy. When Barney points out to her how much her sister Amy liked Alex right before the wedding, she decides to elope with Barney to New York City. In all the commotion from the family learning about her eloping, Ernest takes charge in trying to let the wedding guests know, which changes Amy’s opinion about him (for the better). In New York City, Barney and Laurie struggle through together. In spite of all their troubles, Laurie has indeed come to fall in love with him, but the cynic in Barney refuses to believe that she prefers him over Alex. When they manage to return to the Tuttle home for Christmas, they also find a successful Alex there, and Barney’s doubts come to a head.
Young At Heart was based on the short story “Sister Act” by Fannie Hurst. Warner Brothers had already brought the story to the big screen in 1938 as the movie Four Daughters. In the mid-1950s, Frank Sinatra was in the midst of a big career comeback after winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for From Here To Eternity. The producers wanted him for the movie, but he would only do it on the condition that they change the original sad ending of the story and give his character a happy one (which they did). The movie itself remained without a title until Frank’s recording of the song Young At Heart became a big hit. So, they made that the title of the movie, and had him sing it over the opening and closing credits.
I will readily admit that I have mixed feelings about this movie. I do like it overall, with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra in particular giving good performances in this movie (and the rest of the cast is right up there with them). The story itself is fun (I will have to admit that I have not seen the earlier Four Daughters or any of its sequels yet, so I can’t really compare it to them). Some of the music is fun and enjoyable to listen to. That being said, I do feel the movie has several problems. One of the most glaring, to my mind, is the film’s ending. It just feels too rushed, and makes me wish that Sinatra hadn’t forced them to change it from the original ending (which is what I thought the movie was leading up to). Had they had a better transition at the end, I might have been okay with it. Another problem (and this is purely my taste in music and singers) is that very little of the music is exactly memorable here. I know that Frank sings the song “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road),” which was one of his big hits, but I just don’t like his version of the song (I much prefer listening to Fed Astaire’s version of it from The Sky’s The Limit, as anybody else singing it, other than any of my close friends, just feels like nails on a chalkboard to me). Also, in spite of the promotional material making a big deal of Doris Day and Frank Sinatra working together here, they really don’t sing together outside of part of the film’s final song (and it makes you wish they had had more songs to sing together in this one, or at least more films together). Still, it’s not a completely terrible film, and one I do enjoy seeing every now and then. So I would recommend giving it a try, if given the opportunity to see it.
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Olive Films.
Film Length: 1 hour, 58 minutes
My Rating: 6/10
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