(director: Richard Wallace; screenwriters: based on the  Saturday Evening Post serial “The Gay Banditti” by I.A.R.  Wylie/Paul Osborn/Charles Bennett; cinematographer: Leon Shamroy; editor: Hal Kern; music: Franz Waxman; cast: Janet Gaynor (George-Anne Carleton), Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (Richard Carleton), Paulette Goddard (Leslie Saunders), Roland Young (Col. Anthony ‘Sahib’ Carleton), Billie Burke (Marmy Carleton), Minnie Dupree (Miss Ellen Fortune), Henry Stephenson (Felix Anstruther), Richard Carlson (Duncan Macrae), Lawrence Grant (Mr. Hutchins), Walter Kingsford (inspector), Eily Malyon (Sarah), Tom Ricketts (Andrew), Irvin S. Cobb (Mr. Jennings), Lucile Watson (Mrs. Jennings), Margaret Early (Adele Jennings); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David O. Selznick; United Artists; 1938)

“A neglected feel-good social comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A neglected feel-good social comedy that’s handsomely helmed by Richard Wallace (“A Night to Remember”/”The Shopworn Angel”). It’s based on the  Saturday Evening Post serial “The Gay Banditti” by I.A.R. Wylie. The sentimental screenplay is by the playwright Paul Osborn and the regular Hitchcock writer Charles Bennett. This was Janet Gaynor’s last film before she retired from the screen to marry MGM costume designer Adrian, though she made one last big screen appearance in 1959’s Bernardine, starring Pat Boone.

The featured players are the Carletons: the father is Col. Anthony ‘Sahib’-(Roland Young) and the mother is Marmy (Billie Burke), and their grown children are Richard (Douglas Fairbanks Jr) and George-Anne (Janet Gaynor). They are a family of charming idler con artists staying in Monte Carlo, in the French Riviera. When uncovered as masquerading as Brit aristocrats just back from India the broke family is forced to leave by the police. On the train to London, they befriend the good-hearted lonely rich spinster Miss Ellen Fortune (Minnie Dupree, this was the stage actresses debut in movies) and form a bond after they survive a train wreck. Needing companionship, the completely trusting woman invites the family to live for free with her in her London mansion. Their intention is to con her out of her house and fortune, but the gentle old lady sparks a return to their humanity and they reform their crooked ways.
At first, to avoid her lawyer’s (Henry Stephenson) suspicions, the father works as a salesman for the “Flying Wombat,” a futuristic luxury car, and the son Richard gets a job as a mail clerk and aspires to be an engineer for the Anglo-American hydraulic engineering firm. There he romances American executive Leslie (Paulette Goddard, Charlie Chaplin’s bride). Daughter George-Anne agonizes the most over the heartless scheme to cheat the saintly woman and is romanced by the nice but poor Scotsman Duncan (Richard Carlson).

The production values are first-class. The change from the downbeat original magazine story to an upbeat one, works well.

The Young in Heart Poster

REVIEWED ON 8/14/2016       GRADE: B-