We Who Are Young (1940) Poster

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A good social docu-drama of the era
jerryuppington23 August 2006
I don't agree completely with the other reviewer.

I think this movie is a fine social documentary of the times. Although the movie was filmed in 1940, the scene is really the Depression 30s.

Movies of that era were either 1) escapist, "fluffy" movies, about escapades among the rich and/or young, 2) musicals, or 3) gangster flicks. Mostly. None of these genres really reflected the tenor of those times.

True docu-dramas of the era are rather rare; perhaps the people just didn't want to be reminded of how awful things were.

This movie depicts the trouble a young couple has in succeeding (or even surviving) in a capitalist, Depression society. Both boy and girl loses jobs, and the girl is pregnant; one senses homelessness and breadlines around the corner. The angst felt by such couples in those days is poignantly portrayed here.

True, some of the dialog is corny and dated, but one must remember that the thinking of the 1930s was vastly different than that of today's.

The performances are spot-on, too; every one of the characters is believable.

This movie is well worth watching for the social documentary that it is.
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Turner Rises Above the Material
gvb090712 October 2001
This is a pretty hackneyed melodrama, obviously influenced by "The Crowd" though far inferior. Turner and Shelton play financially strapped newlyweds facing the perils of the Depression. The various crises and the final resolution are predictable and all of the characters are crude stereotypes, especially Gene Lockhart's tyrannical Mr Beamis. Shelton's performance is weak (he was dropped by MGM after this film), but Turner rises above the material and shows she's a star in the making.
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Dalton Trumbo script makes this very interesting
HarveyA5 July 2010
Dalton Trumbo, who wrote the script for this film, was one of the screenwriters blacklisted as a result of the Communist scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s. If you watch the movie with that in mind, you'll find fascinating the political sentiments he puts in the mouth of the protagonist (Shelton).

It's not that the philosophy is Marxist, exactly, but it is certainly a left-wing view of working life. Shelton's antagonist, Bemis, expresses a very pure libertarian view--he got where he is though his own efforts alone, he never asked anyone for help, nor got help from any, and he's damn proud of it. He has contempt for "weaklings" who don't match his self-sufficiency.

Shelton--Trumbo, that is--calls him out. He says that no one has ever done anything alone, he's always had help from the others around him and that people depend on each other for support and there's nothing wrong with that. Rules may be rules, but they must be administered with human kindness.

We're still having the very same argument today, in almost the same words. I've found myself having identical discussions on Facebook and Reddit, and the libertarian view is alive and well. Interestingly, Trumbo makes some of the same points I have made in these discussions.

Anyhow, there's a non-obvious deeper layer to this film that makes it interesting in today's political environment. It's worth seeing for that reason, if for no other.
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A bit of a surprise, coming from MGM.
MartinHafer18 July 2016

During the 1930s and into the 40s, MGM generally tried to paint a very rosy picture during the Depression. Additionally, Louis B. Mayer himself (the head of the studio) worked very hard to defeat the leftist, Upton Sinclair, during his attempt to win an election. Why? Because Mayer was dreadfully afraid of communism and socialism and fought hard to nip it in the bud. In light of this, how could a film like "We Who Are Young" get made? Could Mayer have missed this one? Surely he must, as it's progressive message clearly is NOT what 'Uncle' Louis wanted America to see!

The plot of "We Who Are Young" is a lot like "The Crowd" and "Saturday's Children". The films are all about nice young folks who marry and try to grab a part of the American Dream but end up getting royally screwed. Again and again, things in the system seem to conspire against the couple as they try to just get by. At least that is the first 80% of the film--a strong Progressive message from the era...surprisingly strong. Unfortunately for the film, but perhaps fortunate for Mayer and his sentiments, the picture loses its way towards the end and degenerates too much towards sentimentality and lacks the hard edge you find in these other films. Overall, worth seeing but it just misses the mark. And, interestingly, although this is a Lana Turner starring vehicle, her co-star, John Shelton easily outshines her as the beleaguered husband.021
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Interesting look at the tough work life in 1940 New York.
TxMike5 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this movie on TCM. Black and white, it is just under 90 minutes long. It's just a guess, but I think this movie was made to give young Lana Turner more exposure. She was a teenager during filming, either 18 or 19, and had a little voice with mannerisms similar to what we came to know as Marilyn Monroe a couple of decades later.

Lana Turner is Marjorie 'Margy' White and she meets a nice young man, John Shelton as Bill Brooks. They fall in love and get married. Anxious to please his new wife, they buy new furniture for their small apartment. As a sign of the times, the total for several pieces of furniture was just over $200, which was a lot in 1940 and required Bill to get a short term loan.

But this also leads to his troubles as Gene Lockhart, his very strict boss Carl B. Beamis, enforces very strict company rules. They don't think employees with debt can be good employees so Bill gets fired with 2 weeks' pay.

So the drama heats up when Bill, unemployed and with no savings, finds out that Margy is pregnant.

The dialog is often over-dramatic by today's standards, but maybe 70 years ago, just after the great depression and right before WW II, that is how things were. Just an interesting movie, but mostly for seeing the very young Lana Turner.
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Every cliché in the book!
moosish-628-96595428 June 2016
Unlike previous commentary here, I thought that both principal actors did a good job (Lana Turner and John Shelton), but even good acting by the principals and the bit players as well, can't rescue a terrible plot. Honestly, I think this had every cliché and/or hackneyed phrase in the book, and almost every plot point followed a tired (and very stupid) formula. Here's an example: The couple learns they are pregnant, but they don't have money for a private doctor to deliver the baby. Wifey says, "I'll happily go to a clinic," but husband, in pure idiocy, claims that "No wife of mine will be going to a clinic!" Which promptly causes him to take out usurious payday loans, which make for terrible troubles that cause them to hit rock bottom for a while. I am SHOCKED that Dalton Trumbo wrote the script! I mean - Jeez - that's the guy who wrote "Spartacus" and "Roman Holiday"! In any case, this is worth watching only if you're in the mood to see a young Lana Turner, an underrated male actor in the lead, and what must have been Dalton Trumbo's C- attempt at a script when he was in Middle School.
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Obviously, one of Dalton Trumbo's lesser efforts...
Doylenf22 September 2011
It's easy to see that MGM was grooming LANA TURNER for stardom around this time. She has the pivotal role of a young wife whose husband has a hard time keeping his job under the strict rules of employer GENE LOCKHART. JOHN SHELTON is the husband who ends up desperately looking for work while his wife is expecting a baby and they have had to have all their furniture repossessed.

Shelton wasn't really a bad actor but MGM dropped him not long after the film was completed. But Lana shines as the sweet and wholesome wife who stands by her man during hard times. Shelton gets to spout off some dialogue that comes from Dalton Trumbo's slant on the Depression-era tactics and rules of the workplace.

Obviously, one of Trumbo's lesser scripts has been turned into a film that is more of a programmer than an A-film, despite a cast that includes Gene Lockhart, Grant Mitchell, Henry Armetta and Jonathan Hale. Prices mentioned for wages, rent and furniture are hilarious by today's standards.
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All this for $26.50 a week
blanche-21 June 2008
John Shelton and Lana Turner star are "We Who Are Young," a 1940 film also starring Gene Lockhart. Turner and Shelton are newlyweds who work in the same office; she's fired as soon as the boss (Lockhart) finds out. Married women can't work there; it seems they're taking the jobs away from the more deserving men, and after all, a husband should be able to support his wife. I don't know about the work rule, but it was the prevailing attitude that if your wife worked, you couldn't support her. The couple has trouble meeting their furniture payments, so hubby takes a loan. When he can't make those payments, his salary his attached. His boss fires him for that; you can't be an upstanding citizen if your salary is attached. Meanwhile, his out of work wife becomes pregnant, the furniture is gone, his job is gone, and he can't find another one.

On one hand, it shows you how times have changed in the workplace for the better at least as far as employment laws; on the other hand, at least the Lockhart character has qualms of conscience, which no employer in this day and age would have. Firing at Christmas doesn't bother them, nor does firing someone without notice and having security escort them out, lest they steal a paper clip, nor does spending $250,000 to have their offices redecorated, only to tell employees there's no money for even a cost of living raise.

John Shelton chews up the scenery as the husband. He's not particularly good, and though she doesn't get to emote like Shelton, MGM decided Lana Turner was going to be a star. She's very sweet, beautiful and fragile appearing here. Shelton I guess went into the service and lost what little grooming the studio was giving him. It looks like he quit show business in 1953.

Extremely dated, not great, interesting for Turner and a look at the workplace in the 1939-41 era.
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Bizarre version of 1940's "normal"
curtis-811 October 2001
"We Who Are Young" is the odd kind of movie that David Lynch, the Cohen Brothers, and Ed Wood Jr. must have adored as young men. It's an odd, stilted bit of didactic goofiness about how tough it is to get ahead in a stifling capitalistic society. It follows a young couple, a pre-stardom Lana Turner and John Shelton, as they invariably make the wrong financial moves during the pre-WW II Depression era. They both work at the same office-an accounting firm run like a factory, lunch-period buzzers and all-until it is discovered that they are married. No married women are allowed by company policy, and she is fired (but not before receiving lots of stern advice on living within one's means by the robotic department manager). And this happens just after they buy over $200 worth of new furniture on his $25 a week salary, now their only income. Then she gets pregnant. Then HE gets fired (and has an absolutely histrionic girly-fit, yelling at his boss that `if this affects my wife or child in any way, I'll come back here and just kill you! I'll just kill you!'). And it goes on. What makes the film so special, besides the unintentionally hilarious dialogue, is the way the actors will periodically stare into space as we hear their poetic thoughts overdubbed-very, VERY Ed Wood (and not unlike the similarly awkward thought-balloon overdubbing in Lynch's version of `Dune'). But the gooney monologues are certainly not constrained to the characters' inner world; they also take the occasion to look straight into the camera and actually speak their thoughts at length, even though other characters may be right next to them. How to react to this kind of strangeness is left entirely up to you, the viewer, because the film is so ineptly made you can have no idea whether it's trying to be serious or comedic. I don't want to spoil it for you, but let's just say that if you're a fan of the Coen Brothers' `The Hudsucker Proxy', the less violent moments of Lynch films like `Blue Velvet', Wood's `Glen or Glenda' and the like, you will enjoy seeing their genesis in this nutty bit of 1940's agitprop-pop.

Look for it on AMC and Turner Classic.
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Sweet Movie
kacarrol-783-5772855 July 2010
If you don't like classics in general and are not sentimental, then don't watch. However, I think this movies' appeal is to those that enjoy watching a simple little sentimental 40's period movie without references to gangsters, WWII, and want to be a bit soapy. Turner and Shelton were both very young and good looking. Shelton's performance was good for that particular part- I don't think there was anything wrong with it. It is unfair to compare him to Turner, since she went on to become one of Hollywood's greatest actors/actresses. The predicament Shelton's character was in ...would make many a man result to tears and theatrics, even today.
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"I'm Gonna Lick New York"!!!
kidboots30 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
...Famous fighting words uttered by Bill Brooks as he and his cute wife Marjorie (Lana Turner) look over the skyline. And in this sudsy MGM melodrama it seems a forgone conclusion as battling Bill crosses swords with meanie boss Mr. Beamis (Gene Lockhart), then later on with a meanie hire purchase employer. Lana Turner goes through the movie with a "smiling through tears" look on her face - her emotions never vary as she supports Bill through thick and thin. She and Bill are secretly married, it is against company policy for staff to be married and the day they have a glorious lunch hour picking furniture for their little flat, on the installment plan - you guessed it, by the day's end Marjorie is out of a job.

Hardship follows hardship - Bill takes out a loan so Marjorie can have her own doctor when the baby's due, falls behind in his payments and he, too, is fired by Mr. Beamis, who sends him on his way with an assortment of homilies about scrimping and saving and keeping your nose to the grindstone etc. Cheery Marjorie hocks her wedding ring to pay for Bill to do a chartered accounting course but still no job and, desperate, he rushes out into the night, claiming he would rather steal than go on relief. Don't let "Screenplay by Dalton Trumbo" fool you, this is just another MGM fairy story about two kids trying to make it in the big city. It was done so much better in "Bad Girl" (1931) with Sally Eilers and James Dunn making you believe in their gritty portraits of love on the dole and just as realistic, "I Promise to Pay" about the sometimes grim reality of the dreaded installment plan. Trumbo's stamp is put on it by a couple of speeches - Bill, desperate, tries to get work on a construction site and Jonathon Hale gives him a job, first telling him that he was exactly in Bill's position as a young married man, Bill, in turn, proceeds to give Mr. Beamish a tongue lashing to the effect that people should be kinder to each other!!!

Of course with a lot of MGM movies of the 1940s, everything had to be patched up and tied with a nice ribbon. Mr. Beamish proves to be not such a meanie after all and the end shows Bill in the hospital, beaming at Marjorie, who has presented him with twins (she looks and sounds as though she doesn't know how it all happened - maybe the twins were a surprise edition to the script) and is now able to chose between two jobs.

Lana Turner as a young destitute married girl trying to give support to her struggling husband, was one movie role that she didn't have to become accustomed to. She always looked as though she was born to wear diamonds and furs but she had first hand experience, as a child, of poverty and family instability. She was enchanted by her father's shiftless personality but it didn't make for a happy home life and one night after taking part in a crap game he was found dead in a nearby town. The poverty didn't end for Lana until she was discovered by a talent scout in an ice cream parlour after cutting class.
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The first hundred years of marriage are the hardest.
mark.waltz1 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
While this is a good film in its structure as a whole, it is pretty episodic in its detailing of the struggles a young married couple go through during their first years of marriage and how outsiders can help make or break a couple's happiness. The film opens with newleyweds John Shelton and Lana Turner realizing that they have just taken the most important step of their young adult lives, and after dealing with the fantasy of a one night honeymoon in a posh hotel right in the middle of their own city (New York) face the return to reality with their return to work at the same company. The day after the honeymoon is not so romantic for Turner as she is let go by hard as nails boss Gene Lockhart who objects to married couples working together, repeating the same old cliched line "A rule broken no longer is a rule" over and over, even when he has to fire Shelton later on for paycheck garnishments for unpaid furniture.

The reality of Turner's pregnancy and Shelton's place on the unemployment line sets him to become angry and desperate, nearly going to jail and given a chance by given a job by a kindly stranger simply on good faith. Shelton returns to see Lockhart on brief business and tells him off for the monster he is, leading to the hard as nails boss to open up his eyes to other people's struggles considering that he allegedly has never had to go through them. While the film's mood shows the darkness of the harshness of society, it's too paint by the numbers/connect the dots in its style that the conclusions are far too obvious almost immediately.

In spite of Lana Turner's top billing here, the film really belongs to John Shelton, a handsome young leading man who never became the name that Turner would be, but delivers an intense performance that shows every dimension a young person can go through as they try to make it in a world that is far beyond their control. The "Passing Parade" style narration starts off shockingly with a dead sparrow falling out of its nest onto the New York concrete, and tries to tie itself together through that "Naked City" style structuring. Turner's character seems too good to be true, perhaps the Louis B. Mayer archetype of what a perfect housewife should be, and thus she is less than memorable. It's a rare chance to see her in a not so glamorous role. While her character is pretty, she wears very little make-up, has darker hair (almost mousy brown), and her wardrobe is far from glamorous.

Supporting cast members include Clarence Wilson as the stern office manager, Charles Lane as the furniture company biller who has a moment of frustration with Shelton when he pleads for understanding, and Grant Mitchell as the owner of a car which Shelton steals in a moment of desperation. The scene between Lockhart and Shelton leads to a nice breakdown for Lockhart who questions his secretary on the impact of an unseen clerk who left for a lower paying job. It reminded me of an MGM "Passing Parade" short, "The Boss Didn't Say Good Morning", which in this case, was probably true for the reasons the hero in that short had believed to be the cause. It's a nice attempt for MGM to try to do something that was more in the style of Warner Brothers, that I easily could have seen made by them starring Jeffrey Lynn and Jane Bryan.
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Young love in the Great Depression
bkoganbing13 December 2017
The 'young' in the title of this film are a newlywed couple played by the rising Lana Turner and leveling John Shelton. We Who Are Young tells of the trials and travails of young married folk during the 30s.

Both are working until Turner takes maternity leave. Shelton who has been raised in a strong work ethic home is being driven slowly crazy by the enforced idleness as he seeks employment in an uncaring world.

It's hard to explain, but during the Depression years unemployment rose to almost a quarter of the population. If you were raised in a strong work ethic home getting a relief check (welfare in these days) was an act stripping the male of his manhood. That is conveyed quite well by Shelton and Turner is wonderful as the supportive wife and soon to be mother.

I would compare this film to the James Stewart/Carole Lombard classic Made For Each Other. Made For Each Other is better but it covers a lot of the same ground that We Who Are Young Does.

Lana Turner's fans will approve.
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Scrooge in New York
AlsExGal26 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Directed by Harold S. Bucquet, usually working on sentimental films at MGM, and this is one of those films.

A pig headed by the book executive, C.B. Beamis (Gene Lockhart),has a rule that none of the employees can be married to one another. So when Margy (Lana Turner) and William (John Shelton) fall in love and marry and Beamis finds out, he fires them both.

Soon they are expecting their first child, but William cannot get work anywhere. Instead he depends on relief. Three months into being on the dole he just picks up a shovel and starts digging. When the digging crew protests and the boss man protests, William just says that he is tired of feeling useless, just being fed and housed by the government and not part of society. He's so sick he'll work for free. The boss man gets a policeman and William is in jail for criminal trespass and a bunch of other minor charges, but still he is separated from his extremely pregnant wife who has no idea where he is.

Will this all work out? Of course it will! It's a Harold Bucquet film in the MGM tradition! Watch and find out how.

Lockhart is great as the pig headed irascible boss, John Shelton is good as the optimistic guy who quickly loses that optimism, and Lana Turner is almost too sweet and understanding as the wife. I can say that the film was not exactly timely. By 1940 the Great Depression was pretty much over and this might have packed a more meaningful punch had it come out about three years before. Its message about cooperation, basically "It Takes A Village 1940 Style" was rather timely considering WWII was just a year away.
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