This is a beautiful and deeply touching picture, skilfully adapted from I.A.R. Wylie’s poignant magazine story.
Selznick originally sought Maude Adams for this film, and when that deal fell through, recruited Minnie Dupree from legit to make her screen debut as the gentle, endearing old heroine of the story.
The original ending of the picture was the same as in the Wylie story, with the death of the kindly old spinster. But it drew unfavorable audience reaction at several sneak previews on the West Coast, so Selznick called back the cast to make a happier denouement.
The Young in Heart takes its title from the little old woman whose pathetic eagerness for companionship touches the affections of a conniving and indolent family. When she meets them on a Paris train after they have been exposed and expelled from a Riviera resort, she is captivated by their tall tales of troubles and delighted with their courage in their predicament.
Under Richard Wallace’s direction, the fragile story is never permitted to lapse into bathos. Acting of the entire cast is superb. Janet Gaynor and Douglas Fairbanks Jr sparkle as the pseudo-thick-skinned children of the worthless family, while Roland Young and Billie Burke are brilliant as the parents who are soft-hearted in spite of their worst intentions. Paulette Goddard hasn’t much acting to do as a clear-eyed girl in love with Fairbanks, but she is an eye-filler.