The Young in Heart

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The Young in Heart
Poster - Young in Heart, The 01.jpg
Australian theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Wallace
Produced by David O. Selznick
Written by Charles Bennett (adaptation)
Screenplay by Paul Osborn
Based on The Young in Heart 
by I. A. R. Wylie
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Edited by Hal C. Kern
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • November 3, 1938 (1938-11-03) (USA)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Young in Heart is a 1938 American comedy film produced by David O. Selznick, directed by Richard Wallace, and starring Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Paulette Goddard. The supporting cast features Roland Young and Billie Burke. The screenplay by Paul Osborn was adapted by Charles Bennett from the novel The Young in Heart by I. A. R. Wylie. The music score by Franz Waxman received two Academy Award nominations, for Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Scoring. Leon Shamroy's cinematography was also nominated.[1]


A family of con artists led by Colonel Anthony "Sahib" Carleton (Roland Young) and his wife Marmy (Billie Burke) are working the French Riviera in search of wealthy potential mates for their daughter George-Anne (Janet Gaynor) and son Richard (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.). Sahib, a former Canadian actor, passes himself off as a former officer who served with the Bengal Lancers in India where he was given his honorary name. George-Anne flirts with her Scottish suitor, Duncan Macrea (Richard Carlson), whom she dismisses when she learns that he is not rich. And while Richard puts the moves on wealthy Adele Jennings, Sahib cheats her father out of a large sum of money in a card game. When the local police confirm the true identities of the Carleton family, they provide them with complimentary train tickets to London and order them to leave the country.

On the train, George-Anne meets a lonely old spinster named Miss Ellen Fortune (Minnie Dupree) who recently inherited a fortune from her former fiancé whom she rejected in her youth. The kindhearted Miss Ellen invites George-Anne and her family to her first class compartment, and the penniless family eagerly accepts, hoping to swindle her out of some of her money. While Miss Ellen treats them to dinner, the train derails, and they manage to save the old woman's life. Grateful for their actions, she invites them to stay with her at her London mansion. Seeing an opportunity to make their way into Miss Ellen's will, they treat her with kindness and spend evenings with her. Sahib and Richard also go out looking for jobs in order to persuade her suspicious lawyer that they can be trusted.

Meanwhile, Duncan returns to London and looks up George-Anne, whom he still loves, despite her rejections and her family's shady activities. He finds Sahib a job as a Flying Wombat car salesman, and the colonel is soon applying his con artist skills successfully to the car sales business. He is so successful that he is made the London sales manager and given an impressive raise. Richard also finds a job as a mail clerk at an engineering firm with the help of Leslie Saunders (Paulette Goddard) who is attracted to him, despite his flawed character. Soon he plans to take night courses in engineering to improve his life. Gradually the two men begin to find the value of honest work and start to feel guilty about taking advantage of Miss Ellen. George-Anne and Marmy have also changed and honestly care about the old woman, but all four believe the others are still only after the inheritance.

Miss Ellen eventually learns about the Carltons' background from her attorney, but she reacts with compassion—sorry that they would feel it necessary to live dishonest lives. Rather than confront them with her knowledge, she arranges for a white tie dinner party and quietly instructs her attorney to draw up her will and leave everything to the Carltons. At the party, Miss Ellen collapses, and the family are legitimately concerned for the health of this woman who has changed all of their lives. When they are told by the attorney that Miss Ellen's fortune has eroded in recent years and that they stand to inherit nothing—not even the mansion—Sahib assures the attorney that they will take care of her in their own home.

Sometime later, a recovered Miss Ellen joyfully drives Anstruther, her attorney, uncomfortably fast in her Flying Wombat car to the Carltons' modest but comfortable cottage, where she now lives with Sahib, Marmy, George-Anne and Duncan, who are now married, and Richard and Leslie, who are also married.


Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Paulette Goddard, David O. Selznick (producer), and Richard Wallace (director)



The Broadway stars Maude Adams and Laurette Taylor originally screen tested for the part of Miss Fortune, which eventually went to Minnie Dupree. The screen tests of Adams and Taylor, made by David Selznick, survive and are the only audio-visual record of the actresses (although Taylor did star in a couple of silent films). Taylor's screen test can be seen on the DVD of Broadway: The Golden Age.

This was Gaynor's final film role before retiring while at her height (though she did make one more movie, 1957's Bernardine).


The film lost $517,000 at the box office.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The Young in Heart (1938)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ Thomson, David (1992). Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick. New York: Knopf. p. 268. ISBN 978-0394568331. 

External links[edit]