Spotlight on Young at Heart
Tomorrow marks Frank Sinatra‘s 100th birthday. Although he’s been gone for nearly 20 years he’s hardly been forgotten. Quite the opposite, perhaps. In the interim years we’ve seen his stature as the greatest voice of the 20th century firmly established. Rightfully so. That voice. *swoon*
To commemorate his birthday Movie Classics and The Vintage Cameo have put together the Sinatra Centennial Blogathon. Celebrating Ol’ Blue Eyes contributions to film its a fitting tribute to the legend. Of course, I had to participate. How could I not? Frankie onscreen is just as special as Frankie on record. Especially when he’s paired with the inimitable Doris Day.
Young at Heart is the only screen pairing of Sinatra and Day. Released in 1954 it’s a musical remake of 1938’s Four Daughters.
I can’t remember the first time I saw Young at Heart but I do know that I was instantly smitten. A big fan of both Doris Day and Frank Sinatra for as long as I can remember the film showcases both their musical and dramatic talents even if the plot line is a bit hokey.
Doris Day is Laurie Tuttle, one of three sisters born into a musical family. They all live a happy existence with their father and aunt (played by the magnificent Ethel Barrymore) until Alex, a young song-writer played by Gig Young, enters the scene. Each sister is instantly smitten with the charming goofball but he only has eyes for Doris. Then Barney comes along.
Barney as played by Sinatra is a fellow with the world’s biggest chip on his shoulder. Life is a true vale of tears and he instantly sucks the cheer out of each room he enters. Yet, by pulling the guilt card he gets Laurie to marry him. She gets pulled into his life of struggle and the big questions start. Will the couple survive? Will Barney change his ways? Or will Laurie toss him over for the seemingly better catch, Alex?
When I was younger I was drawn into the story hook, line and sinker. The good girl! The bad boy! Drama! Music! Redemption! The older I get the less the plot line reels me in. Yet, somehow I still love Young at Heart.
Doris Day is pure magic. She fills the film with its heart and soul and you can’t help but fall in love with her. Frank Sinatra is Sinatra at his best. A bit angry, a bit surly, with just the trace of heart under it all. And Ethel Barrymore. There’s a reason she’s a legend. In what could be a throwaway part as the maiden aunt she breathes life into the role. Out of all the members of the Tuttle family she’s the only one who really knows what’s going on from start to finish. She’s got this whole tale figured out.
But what really sells the film is the music. There’s the title song which became one of Sinatra’s signature tunes. There’s “One for My Baby,” another Sinatra standard, sung to great effect in a smoky restaurant. Then Doris Day sings “There’s a Rising Moon” at a beach bonfire and makes you feel like all is right in the world. But my favorite song is the duos only duet – “You My Love.”
How this is their only duet (both in the film and real life) is beyond me. This beautiful tune by Mack Gordon and Jimmy Van Heusen is tailor made for them. The end when their voices combine? Chills. Even if I didn’t like the film at all I would keep watching it just for that scene.
But, I can’t help but like Young at Heart. A throwback to an era that probably never was it’s a treat for any Sinatra fan.