This latest wave of Marilyn Monroe feature films is really a collection of her early bit parts, as she's pretty much an incidental character in these films, enjoying just a handful of actual screen time. (The remaining Monroe Fox flicks - "Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay!" (1948), "Fireball" (1950), "O. Henry's Full House" (1952), and the Rock Hudson-narrated tribute, "Marilyn" (1963) - are at the time of this writing still unreleased on DVD.) Monroe's connection with these little films - more B+ features, shot very economically on studio lots - ultimately rescue works by noted screenwriters that wouldn't normally enjoy much priority in a studio's busy DVD schedule.
Based on a story by Paddy Chayefsky, one of television's most notable playwrights, "As Young As You Feel" is given a few glutinous dollops of sentimentality by producer/writer Lamar Trotti ("Belles On Their Toes") that manage to cohabit alongside the working class characters and linguistic impressions typical of Chayefsky's sharp pen.
Playing a seductive secretary to two-timing executive Albert Dekker, Marilyn Monroe's scenes are very brief, while aging icon Constance Bennett and inimitable curmudgeon Monty Woolley are the real stars of the film, with newcomer David Wayne paired against Jean Peters, the future Mrs. Howard Hughes.
Though a minor B+ picture, "Young" could easily have benefited from a historical commentary track which addressed the film's role as a stepping stone for new talent, and as lesser efforts by aging stars whose own careers were approaching their own respective finales. The film's also notable as the directorial debut by former editor Harmon Jones ("Gentleman's Agreement"), and one could have examined the contrast of Monroe's early work with her subsequent blockbusters; after becoming a major pop icon, her effect later influenced Chayefsky to pen a biographical riff of her life in 1958, with "Goddess," starring Kim Stanley.
Like the other three entries in this third Monroe wave, the source print's in very good condition, and the transfer has good gray levels, and deep blacks. Each film relies heavily on dialogue, so the new pseudo-stereo mix isn't that different from the original mono track.
Note: Trailers for “All About Eve,” “As Young As You Feel,” “Bus Stop,” “Don't Bother To Knock,” “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” “How To Marry A Millionaire,” “Let's Make It Legal,” “Let's Make Love” “Love Nest,” “Monkey Business,” “Niagara,” “River Of No Return,” “The Seven Year Itch,” “There's No Business Like Show Business,” and “We're Not Married” are also featured.
This 20th Century Fox title is available separately or as part of the Marilyn Monroe collection that includes “We're Not Married,” “Love Nest,” “As Young As You Feel,” and “Let's Make It Legal.”
© 2004 Mark R. Hasan