You'll learn a thousand charming insults from Judge Paul Corupe's review of one of Marilyn Monroe's first films.
"Come along and meet the Hodges, the nation's 'happy as a lark family.' You'll learn a thousand charming insults from Grandpa!"—Trailer
As Young as you Feel is a comedy of corporate culture that features one of Marilyn Monroe's first appearances. In fact, this film came out so early in her career that the trailer spends more time selling the audience on Grandpa's "charming" crabbiness than Marilyn's steamy presence.
Facts of the Case
On turning 65, Grandpa John Hodges (Monty Wolley, The Man Who Came to Dinner) discovers that he has reached the mandatory retirement age at Acme Printing Services. His granddaughter's fiancé Joe (David Wayne, M) works in personnel, and further informs Grandpa John that the policy is dictated by Acme's parent company, Consolidated Motors.
Believing that there is still dignity to be had in his work, the crafty retiree hatches a plan. Since no one at Acme has actually seen Consolidated president Harold P. Cleveland, Grandpa John sends notice that Cleveland is set to visit Acme, and then shows up with a briefcase and a dyed beard. He quickly gets Acme's president Louis McKinley (Albert Dekker, Kiss Me Deadly) to agree to abolish the ageist policy and hire back any old-timers that were forcibly retired in the past. Having made his point, Grandpa John is prepared to leave when he is unexpectedly invited to speak at a local businessmen's luncheon. He is unable to resist, even when it exposes him to Joe, who sees right through the disguise.
As Young as you Feel, is one of the final entries in Fox's "Diamond Collection" of Marilyn Monroe films, however the blonde bombshell appears in just a handful of scenes. Even the back of the box, which has the audacity to suggest that As Young as you Feel contains "comic craziness," can only muster the word "cameo" to describe her role. As Harriet the secretary, Monroe has a brief flirtation with Grandpa John when she thinks he is Mr. Cleveland, but in all, her presence comprises about ten minutes of total screen-time.
The rest of the film is devoted to the decidedly screwball scenario of a humble printing press operator who is suddenly treated like royalty. Although an attempt is made to milk a few laughs out of the mistaken identity angle, the jokes are much too weak to register. Making this all the more regrettable is the fact that As Young as you Feel was written by Paddy Chayefsky, who later went on to script one of the finest American satires ever, Network. Showing absolutely no signs of his future promise, Chayefsky's material here is tepid, at best, with all the piercing wit of a limp kite string. Grandpa's advertised cavalcade of zingers includes such gut-busters as "What kind of barbaric music is this?," "You think with all the photographers in town, one would have gotten me in focus" and…hmm, apparently I missed the other 998.
Proving a failure as both a Marilyn Monroe film and a comedy, As Young as you Feel makes one last ditch effort for identity—as a schmaltzy Hollywood message picture. Grandpa John's hard-line revolutionary ideology of "there's more to life than just money" proves infectious to Acme workaholics Joe and Mr. McKinley, who are both putting love on the backburner in favor of their careers. Here, the film finds success, limited only by the audience's willingness to tolerate puerile greeting card sentimentality.
Speaking of failures, let's talk about Fox's transfer of As Young as you Feel. Grainy and artifact-ridden, it's apparent that very little, if any, restoration took place. This DVD may look better than previous VHS releases of the film, but my money is on "not by much." As you might expect, the stereo remix of the original mono soundtrack is flat, but tolerable. Fifteen trailers, making up every title in the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection, are here as extras, as is a minute-long ad for the whole set.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
When it was released over 50 years ago, As Young as you Feel was intended as a feel-good picture for senior citizens. Younger audiences no doubt found it old-fashioned then, so you can imagine how a cynical audience might react to the dull antics of Grandpa John today. However, some people still appreciate blandly outdated entertainment, perhaps making this little film a nice present for Grandma.
Fox's DVD of As Young as you Feel, conspicuously branded with a large photo of Marilyn Monroe, will no doubt be a disappointment to anyone but the most diehard Marilyn fan. All others, especially those under 65, should probably avoid this film even as a rental.
Unless Grandpa John can submit to this Court a list of his alleged one thousand charming insults, he is to be reprimanded to a maximum security facility where he will soon discover that he's actually only as young as his cellmate tells him he is.
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