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Young America 1932
Description: Mrs. Doray sits with a Juvenile Court Judge to learn more about trouble kids and what to do about them. One of the situations involves 13 year old Arthur, "the worst child in town", who moves vehicles away from fiire-plugs without the knowledge of the owners. The judge gives Arthur and mate Nutty other chance. However they run into further problem when they break into Mr. Doray's drugstore to receive medicine for Nutty's grandmother. Mr. Doray is not sympathetic and fully vs his wife's plan to become Arthur's guardian. More incidents occur with Mr. Doray fast to judge prior to getting all of the facts. Mrs. Doray gotta select between her marriage and Arthur.
Released: 17 Apr 1932 Director: Frank Borzage Writers: John Frederick Ballard (play), William M. Conselman (screenplay) Actors: Spencer Tracy, Doris Kenyon, Ralph Bellamy, Tommy Conlon Genres: Drama
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Young America Reviews:

For most of its running time "Young America" is an earnest, low-key drama about the plight of preteen men from broken homes, and the factors that steer them into petty crime. We tend to associate Depression era 'social problem' films with Warner Brothers, but this detail was a product of the Fox Studio and director Frank Borzage, better known for a unique brand of lyrical, soft-focus romanticism quite various from the straightforward storytelling found here. Borzage deemphasizes the sensationalist aspects of juvenile crime and takes a decidedly sympathetic view of the troubled topics of this story, most of whom are decent men who despite their repeat appearances in juvenile court are almost everytime victims of circumstance.The director's on-screen surrogate is Ralph Bellamy, introduced in the opening sequence as a progressive judge who makes it his business to listen to the boys, search out why they misbehave, and dole out appropriate sentences. He's fair but no pushover, and when one well-dressed man smoothly delivers his testimony with a grin he astutely identifies the child as a con artist. You know Bellamy's judge is a nice guy from the method he sits at the judicial bench: he isn't ramrod straight, he slouches, parks his elbow on the desktop and props his head on his hand, listening intently as he leans towards the speaker. If you ever receive in problem and wind up in court, this is the type of judge you'd wish to face.The central figure is an orphaned man called Arthur Simpson, who is being raised in squalor by a cold-hearted aunt with no husband and three kids of her own. Art is in problem constantly, but his motives are usually nice ones—so much so that, after a while, our credulity is strained. A well-heeled lady called Edie Doray takes a sympathetic interest in the man and volunteers to take him into her home as her ward, despite the vocal opposition of her perennially grouchy husband Jack, the proprietor of a drug store. After different complications and much suffering for young Art, who seems to be a magnet for trouble, the man redeems himself (in a wildly implausible, action-packed finale) and everyone, even Jack Doray, comes to recognize his nice qualities."Young America" begins well and holds viewer interest much of the way, but issues kick in around the midway mission as the storyline turns increasingly improbable and sentimental. Tommy Conlon is quite nice as Arthur Simpson, but the hero as written is impossibly noble, forever misunderstood and put-upon. In the face of injustice Art maintains a disturbing, Job-like passivity. Few times the locals refer to him as "the worst man in town," and if that's real they're awfully lucky. Mickey Rooney's hero in "Boy's Town" is more of a hardened troublemaker than this guy. Most children in Art's position would be openly mad and raise a lot more hell than he ever does, and a stronger screenplay might have granted him more nuance, but like Father Flanagan the writers of "Young America" seem to trust there's no such thing as a terrible man (well, except for a couple of terrible eggs we meet briefly along the way) and are determined to prove that all these children need is the occasion to explain themselves and a second possibility in life, and everything will be fine. If only life should be so simple!Speaking of Father Flanagan the largest lure this movie has to offer modern day viewers is the performance of 32 year-old Spencer Tracy as Jack Doray, the druggist. It's a tiny strange to see Tracy this young, but the regular-guy gruffness and authoritative voice so familiar from his soon films are present, and he demonstrates with ease that he already had the acting chops to breathe life into an ill-defined character. Tracy was under contract to Fox Movies during the first five years of his film career, 1930-35, and was told to be unhappy with most of the projects he was assigned; it's secure to assume that this was one of the roles he didn't like. We're never said much about Jack Doray. We never learn why he's such a grouch or why he takes an immediate dislike to Art Simpson, or for that matter why his wife puts up with him. When, in the final scenes, Doray suddenly sees the light and recognizes Art's goodness, only an actor of Tracy's caliber should create the turnabout feel at all credible.The finale involves a stick-up by crooks and a crazed vehicle chase staged mostly before rear-projection screens, and it bears so tiny resemblance to what we've been watching it feels as if it was spliced in from a various movie. (Amusingly, the original posters and lobby cards for the movie emphasized this sequence, which gotta have left more than one ticket-buyer bewildered and disappointed.) It concludes the present on a rousing note, but also reminds us that while "Young America" is a moderately interesting viewing experience it doesn't live up to the promise of its opening scenes.


The adult cast in Young America takes a definite back seat to the young players. That contains future two time Oscar champion Spencer Tracy who is first billed.The movie belongs to Tommy Conlan and Raymond Borzage. Tommy comes from a true white trash background and he's got a lot of anger problems and who wouldn't if I lived as an orphan with his aunt Sarah K. Padden who is hardly the nurturing type. Conlan finds it a lot more congenial with his mate Borzage's family which is his grandmother Beryl Mercer. Conlan by a certain consensus is supposedly the worst child in the city. Yet folks like Judge Ralph Bellamy and Doris Kenyon wife of pharmacist Spencer Tracy see something nice and salvageable. In a fresh biography of Spencer Tracy it's states that while Tracy was glad to work with director Frank Borzage he was clearly not satisfied with Fox Studios assigning him to a helping role in reality if not in billing. Soon on when he was assigned and billed accordingly such a role in Captains Courageous to Freddie Bartholomew he walked off with his first Oscar. But he's given tiny occasion or time on the screen to do that here. Conlan and young Borzage (he's the director's nephew) really register well. Borzage is what today would be termed a nerd yet he and Conlan because of Mercer's affection for Conlan form a very great Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn kind bond. Frank Borzage has come down to us as a director of tender and sometime tragic love stories. He puts that skill to work with nice effectiveness here. Tommy and Raymond enact a tender death stage that would rival what Borzage did with Margaret Sullavan in Three Comrades and The Mortal Storm a couple of better known Borzage works at MGM. I was deeply moved by it.Fox Studios was having its financial issues during the Nice Depression and didn't invest much in production values for Young America. Spencer Tracy was a B picture star for the most part. In the last days of Fox Movies before they merged with 20th Century Pictures the A list stars were Will Rogers and Janet Gaynor. Still Young America is a poignant storyline and credit goes to the nice chemistry and nice acting of Tommy Conlan and Raymond Borzage.


This Borzage soaper about the trials and tribulations of a youngster on the edge of being sent to reform school -- Ralph Bellamy plays the juvenile court judge in a relaxed, almost boneless manner. He was a fine actor and before he got typecast as the dull guy who loses the woman to Cary Grant, he gave a bunch of interesting performances in a wide tons of roles. According to legend, he was offered a script with other loser role, saw that the hero was labeled as a Ralph Bellamy type, and quit the movies, going back to more interesting roles on Broadway.Borzage manages to receive some interesting performances out of the young actors: Tom Conlan, whose hero is labeled as the worst man in town, keeps getting into thoughtless scrapes. In fact, that's the greatest part of the script: the men are not bad, but they just don't think of consequences.The another thing about this film that makes it better than average is, unsurprisingly, Spencer Tracy's performance. In the midst of all the sweet characters and one outright stinker, he adds a lot of salt to the stew as the grouchy pharmacist. His stage with Bellamy in which he continually gets fined for contempt of court is very funny. While not among Borzage's greatest work, this movie, as always, has enough points to create it worth your time.



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