Young at Heart
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Written by Julius J. Epstein, Lenore J. Coffee, and Liam O’Brien from a story by Fannie Hurst
First viewing/Netflix rental
I was very pleasantly surprised by this musical remake of Four Daughters (1938), not least because we get Frank Sinatra in the John Garfield part singing a whole bunch of standards at his absolute prime.
The Tuttle family consists of three musical daughters, their composer/conductor father, and their aunt Jessie (Ethel Barrymore). The family is a close one and lives in small town U.S.A. All the girls are at marriageable age. As the story opens Fran (Dorothy Malone) announces her engagement to wealthy Bob Neary (Alan Hale, Jr.). Next we see Amy, the eldest daughter who fears she is doomed to spinsterhood, and Laurie (Doris Day) make a vow that they will have a double wedding or not marry at all.
Into this milieu moves affable Broadway composer Alex Burke (Gig Young). All the girls are half in love with him but he sets his sights on Laurie who quickly reciprocates his affection. Shortly afterwards arranger Barney Sloane (Sinatra) arrives. He is clearly uber-talented but unable to finish his own compositions. He spends all of his time bemoaning his fate. Laurie makes it her mission to cheer him up and make him work again. Laurie is almost too successful as she also causes him to fall in love with her.
Alex proposes to Laurie and she happily accepts him. On the very day of the wedding Barney confesses his love for her and lets her know that the wedding is breaking Amy’s heart. The plot then follows Four Daughters with a switch in the ending more appropriate for a musical.
If there was nothing else of merit in the movie, I still would have been rapt at Sinatra crooning the following: “Just One of Those Things”; “Someone to Watch Over Me”; “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)”; and the title tune. But in addition to that, I think this is one of his best acting roles and Day is very good as well. In fact, I can’t really think of anything I would criticize. It’s probably not for musical haters though.