Fairytale Comes True for Day and Sinatra
It would be fair to say that a lot of Doris Day movies work to a formula and as such a typical Doris Day movie has an almost painted by numbers feel to it. One Doris Day movie which doesn't, which feels quite original is "Young at Heart", although saying that it is a remake of "Four Daughters", which sees the lovely Doris Day paired up with not just Frank Sinatra but also Gig Young providing plenty of romance, drama, comedy and music. And although there are some significant chemistry issues when it comes to Frank Sinatra and Doris Day "Young at Heart" is an enjoyable, semi engrossing drama with plenty of old fashioned charm.
When young and enthusiastic composer Alex Burke (Gig Young - Only the Valiant) charms his way into the Tuttle household, all three daughters Fran (Dorothy Malone - Basic Instinct), Amy (Elisabeth Fraser - The Glass Bottom Boat) and Laurie (Doris Day - Lucky Me) fall for his enthusiasm and charm. But it is Laurie who Alex falls for and after a while asks for her hand in marriage. But at the same time Alex introduce Barry Sloan (Frank Sinatra - On the Town) to the Tuttle's, a musical arranger working with him on some music he is writing and his presence causes issues as his down beat, the glass is half empty attitude intrigues Laurie who becomes close to him despite also being with Alex.
The set up to "Young at Heart" reminds me a little of "Little Women" with the Tuttle sisters and their close knit loving family. But that is really as far as the similarity goes but in being so has a really nice old fashioned feeling to things, the fact that the daughters all say good bye to their father is sweet and homely. And that is one of the things about "Young at Heart"; it is very sweet with a pleasant mixture of romance and comedy. But it is also a little dramatic and as the storyline builds with Laurie ending up have two men vying for her love it not so much has a darker side but a more serious side. Not that it ever reaches the point of being hugely dramatic; not even the ending reaches any real peak of tension.
But whilst "Young at Heart" feels a lot more original than many of Doris Day's movies it still is all a little predictable from the minute she meets Alex Burke, you know that there will be romance between them, yet when Barney Sloan enters the scene you also know that Laurie will end up having feelings for him. As such there are no real great surprises and is quite typical of Hollywood at the time when "Young at Heart" was made with it generally being a happy movie which accentuates the positives rather than focusing on the darker negatives.
Of course with this featuring not one but two great singers in Doris Day and Frank Sinatra it is a movie full of music and not just all the same sort of thing. You get Doris Day delivering a range of delightful, sweet numbers such as "Ready, Willing and Able", "Hold Me in Your Arms" and "There's a Rising Moon for Every Falling Star" whilst Sinatra in fitting with his darker character gives us more bluesy almost down beat songs such as "Someone to Watch Over Me", "Just One of Those Things" and also "Young at Heart" which he duets with Doris Day on. The contrast of music makes it quite interesting and each song is perfectly pitched to fit in with the emotions of the scene.
Performance wise well Doris Day is as delightful as always, perky, fun loving and optimistic yet she also gets chance to show that she is more than capable as an actress. There are scenes within "Young at Heart" which allow Doris Day to show her range of emotion and in certain more serious scenes it's all quite touching and even realistic as she emits sadness. Alongside Day is Frank Sinatra cast as a complete opposite to the perky Laurie, he's on a permanent downer, the glass is always half empty and as such Sinatra is surprisingly convincing, delivering the believability of someone who just can't get a break. The trouble is that the chemistry between Doris Day and Frank Sinatra is zilch; it actually feels a little frosty between them and so makes the whole romantic side of their storyline unbelievable.
On a more positive note there is Gig Young who it has to be said is wonderful as Alex Burke, full of life and exuberance. Young who went on to appear in other Doris Day movies really injects life into the storyline as he enters the Tuttle's home and through his charm and persuasive personality wins the hearts of every one even Aunt Jessie played by the equally wonderful Ethel Barrymore. And making up the Tuttle family there are some nice, sweet performances from Dorothy Malone and Elisabeth Fraser as Laurie's sisters Fran and Amy as well as Robert Keith as their musical father.
What this all boils down to is that "Young at Heart" is sweet, fun, entertaining and compared to some of Doris Day's other movies quite original when it comes to the storyline despite being a remake. But whilst the comedy and music as well as the exuberant performance from Gig Young will make you smile, the lack of chemistry between Doris Day and Frank Sinatra sadly causes it to suffer in places.