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How About a Robert Young SUTS Day?


sewhite2000
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Scanning the program threads carefully, I can't see that Robert Young has ever had a SUTS day, and he's only been Star of the Month once, and that was in February, 1996! That's a little surprising, given that he made so many of films at MGM. Young is one of those performers like Lucille Ball who's more remembered by the general public for his/her TV work than work in film, and in fact, he stopped appearing in movies altogether after 1954 (while continuing to work in television through 1988).

 

I have selected a dozen Young films that could serve as a template for a Robert Young day, almost none of which I've actually seen, but I picked them because they represent work at a variety of studios with intriguing plot concepts and a who's who of Hollywood big names as Young's co-stars. I'll list them in chronological order:

 

1931 THE GUILTY GENERATION (D: Rowland V. Lee, Columbia) - ROMEO & JULIET meets THE GODFATHER. Young is an architect hiding behind the nom de plume John Smith who's actually the son of one NYC's two most notorious gangsters (Boris Karloff!). Unfortunately, he's fallen in love with Constance Cummings, who's the daughter of the other one (Leo Carillo), who's Karloff's mortal enemy.

 

1933 TUGBOAT ANNIE (D: Mervyn LRoy, MGM) - Starring vehicle for Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery as a waterfront couple. Young plays their grown son who rebels against their ambitions to make him a sea captain. Dressler tries to hold the family together after drunken Beery ruins the family business and Young gets engaged to snooty society girl (and MGM newcomer) Maureen O'Sullivan.

 

1934 SPITFIRE (D: John Cromwell, RKO) - Early starring vehicle for Katharine Hepburn, playing a faith-healing mountain girl believed by her neighbors to be a witch. Young is a womanizing engineer come to town to build a dam who gets the hots for Hepburn, but things turn serious when Hepburn rescues a baby from abusive parents and appeals to Young and his team of engineers (including Ralph Bellamy) for help.

 

1935 VAGABOND LADY (D: Sam Taylor, MGM) - In this romantic triangle comedy, Evelyn Venable is about to give in and accept the marriage offer from Reginald Denny, the stuffed-shirt son of a department store owner, before Young, as Denny's brother, a free-spirited vagabond, returns home suddenly from touring the South Seas in his boat.

 

1935 THE BRIDE COMES HOME (D: Wesley Ruggles, Paramount) - Two young men (Young and Fred MacMurray) hire a peniless socialite (Claudette Colbert) to serve as a front for the magazine they're launching but soon become rivals for her affections in this screwball comedy. Since MacMurray had higher billing and was a Paramount regular (not on loanout to the studio like Young), I'm guessing he gets Colbert in the end, but I haven't seen it.

 

1937 I MET HIM IN PARIS (D: Wesley Ruggles, Paramount) - Young on loan to Paramount again and again competing for the affections of Claudette Colbert, this time with Melvyn Douglas.

 

1937 NAVY BLUE & GOLD (D: Sam Wood, MGM) - Jimmy Stewart joins the Naval Academy under a false name in order to clear the name of his disgraced career officer father. He gets exposed early on, and now the staff of the Academy must decide whether to expel him or help him get to the truth. Young is among a cast of MGM staples including Lionel Barrymore and Billie Burke.

 

1939 MAISIE (D: Edwin L. Marin, MGM) - Convoluted drama in which Young, as the manager of a Wyoming ranch owned by Ian Hunter, finds himself on trial for Hunter's murder. It's up to heroic Maisie Rivers (Ann Sothern), who's been working as a maid for Hunter and his adulterous wife (Ruth Hussey) and who's fallen in love with Young, to clear his name. This film proved to be so popular, that Maisie became an MGM franchise - Sothern played the part nine more times.

 

1940 THE MORTAL STORM (D: Frank Borzage, MGM) - Probably the only movie on my list that's commonly listed among the all-time classics, this heavy drama shows the turmoil that falls upon a "non-Aryan" (the word "Jewish" is never said in the film) family in the early days of Hitler's ascendancy in Germany. It's Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan playing Europeans with no attempts at accents in the same year they made THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. Young plays against type in this movie as a preppy Nazi to whom Sullavan is engaged at the beginning of the film before falling for Stewart. The impressive cast also includes Frank Morgan, Maria Ouspenskaya and a young Robert Stack.

 

1942 CAIRO (D: W.S. Van Dyke, MGM) - Not exactly CASABLANCA but also with a North African war setting, this comic-patriotic-adventure-musical has Young as a reporter who accidentally gets a singer-actress played by Jeanette MacDonald caught up in his plans to stop a bombing by Nazi robot planes of a US convoy.

 

1943 SWEET ROSIE O'GRADY (D: Irving Cummings, 20th Century Fox) - Young again as a reporter, this time exposing alleged heiress Betty Grable as a common burlesque star, potentially ruining her engagement to a duke (Reginald Gardiner). She fights back by claiming it's all a publicity stunt, and that Young is actually her true love. Romance, complications and wacky hijinks ensue.

 

1948 RELENTLESS (D: George Sherman, Columbia) - A Western noir? Young is a cowboy falsely accused of murder who must stay one step ahead of the law while trying to find the real killer.

 

I think it would make for a highly entertaining day, or a handful of films would make for a highly entertaining prime time evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I can't comment too much on Robert Young-- only that I really did not enjoy his appearance in That Forsyte Woman.  He was miscast, in my opinion.  Too old for the role.  If I were planning a SUTS day for him, I would not include that film as indicative of his best work.  I'd only want to watch it out of love for the male star of that film. 

 

I'd love to see the two Claudette Colbert movies you listed; however, that relates more to my liking Claudette Colbert and doesn't reflect on my opinion of Robert Young's abilities.

 

Looking over his filmography, I didn't realize that he was in so many films in the 30s and 40s.  Like Lucille Ball, whom you mentioned, he had quite the extensive film career before finding his true niche in television.  Thank god for television, otherwise, we wouldn't even be talking about Young and Ball-- only to say that they were great actors in their B productions and/or great supporting actors in A productions. 

 

I'd be really interested in seeing:

 

The Enchanted Cottage (The whole plot sounds interesting)

 

The Bride Comes Home (Claudette Colbert; Young apparently made 4 different movies with the word "bride" in the title)

 

I Met Him in Paris (More Claudette Colbert)

 

Crossfire (Film Noir! And it has an interesting cast)

 

Spitfire (Just because I read on another thread how bad it was.  Katharine Hepburn is one of my favorites-- apparently this was not a good role for her)

 

The Bride Walks Out (It also has Barbara Stanwyck! another of my faves)

 

Bride For Sale (More Claudette Colbert)

 

Sitting Pretty (I think this one may have just been on TCM for the Maureen O'Hara salute; but I missed it)

 

*The fourth "bride" movie, The Bride Wore Red, and stars Joan Crawford; can't say I'm a fan of hers, except in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? because she gets terrorized by my favorite, Bette Davis.  Joan is great in that film.

 

I'd agree with you sewhite; there are plenty of films that Young appeared in that warrants him a SUTS salute.  I appreciate the variety of genres that he appeared in-- especially film noir.  I do love me some film noir.

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You can't have a Robert Young day without They Won't Believe Me, where he plays a womanizer accused of murder, or HM Pulham, Esq. where he plays a man remembering his past while floundering in his present as an executive with a wife and two kids, wondering what might have been. Both very good.

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Robert Young's one of those generic cookie cutter actors who was chosen for his looks, his bland "everyman" personality,  and his ability not to flub his lines.  His movies are all pretty much programmers with a few exceptions like They Won't Believe Me, which suffers from having had much of it left on the cutting room floor, but is still about the best thing he ever did. Young wouldn't be the worst choice for a SUTS day, but when you think of infinitely better actors like George Sanders who've never been accorded the honor, he doesn't exactly seem like the world's most compelling selection.

 

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You need to add CROSSFIRE, which is most definitely a Robert Young essential (as well as a Robert Mitchum essential and a Robert Ryan essential).  Three Bobs-- how can you go wrong!

 

I MET HIM IN PARIS, while charming, is one of Colbert's lesser comedies of the 30s.  Note it was not chosen for Melvyn Douglas' SOTM tribute. 

 

RELENTLESS is a very good western and it shows up occasionally on the Encore Westerns Channel.

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And while they are programmers (one for RKO and the other for Columbia) I highly enjoy the films he made with Barbara Hale. Lots of chemistry with those two-- in LADY LUCK and again with AND BABY MAKES THREE. (He also worked with her later on an episode of Marcus Welby after her gig with Perry Mason had ended.)

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Robert Young's a guy I like to group with an actor like Robert Cummings. They were good actors, though yeah, kind of bland but they could be a good second lead to an A list actress or a good male lead in the lesser A movies and the better B movies. I like Young a lot. Good looking but not dangerous except maybe in They Won't Believe Me.

 

I'm always willing to watch anything he's in. Cummings was also a guy that made his appeal wider through TV. I remember "Love That Bob" in reruns as a kid. I think Ann B. Davis was a co star.

 

Young deserves a SUTS as much as anybody.

 

AndyM10, George does indeed deserve a day. 

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