A comparatively little-known entry in the "screwball comedy" genre, David O. Selznick's The Young in Heart goes for quiet chuckles rather than bellylaughs. Adapted by Paul Osborn and Charles Bennett from a short story by I. R. Wylie, the film concentrates on a family of confidence tricksters. Paterfamilias Roland Young poses as a veteran of the Bengal Lancers in order to insinuate himself into high society; his birdbrained wife Billie Burke willingly goes along with any scheme her husband cooks up; and their work-resistant offspring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Janet Gaynor scheme to marry into weatlth. Right now, Janet's target is Scottish millionaire Richard Carlson (making his screen debut) to fill the family's coffers. The whole family teams up to fleece a wealthy old lady called Miss Fortune,played with showstopping relish by Broadway veteran Minnie Dupree. Through Miss Fortune's sweet, unassuming example, everyone in the family begins to reform. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. makes the supreme sacrifice of taking a job-which has the salutary effect of winning him the affections of poor-but-honest Paulette Goddard. Young in Heart originally ended with Miss Fortune passing away while surrounded by the repentant family; preview audiences hated this denouement, obliging Selznick to film a new ending, with Minnie Dupree joyously tooling about on a motorcyle! Our favorite scene: Roland Young and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. at a construction site, comparing the workers to insects.
by Hal Erickson synopsis