Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 30, 2015


YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE (1964). Writer/director: Delmer Daves. Based on the novel by Herman Wouk.

Arthur "Youngblood" Hawke (James Franciscus) is living with his mother (Mildred Dunnock) in a cabin in Kentucky when he learns that Jason Prince (Lee Bowman) wants to publish his novel. Arthur goes to New York where he becomes the toast of the town and promptly begins an affair with actors' agent Freida Winter (Genevieve Page), who is married with children. Meanwhile Arthur's editor, Jeanne (Suzanne Pleshette), is falling in love with him as well. Youngblood Hawke is entertaining and not quite a soap opera, but something about it just doesn't jell. First, while Franciscus isn't bad, he never comes off like a reader, let alone a writer who wins a Pulitzer Prize, and there's nothing remotely poor-Southern-Kentuckian about him (despite Franciscus' coming from Missouri). Then there's the screenplay, which doesn't even seem to make much of an effort to seriously delineate a writer's life or career -- everything is subordinate to his love troubles. It comes across that Youngblood's chief appeal is his sex appeal and not the literary quality of his novels, but the movie misses most opportunities to explore this with depth. Pleshette is okay if unspectacular, but hers is a small secondary role compared to Genevieve Page, who gives a sensitive and outstanding performance as Freida. Eva Gabor [It Started with a Kiss] is a party hostess; John Emery an aging actor; Don Porter [The Norliss Tapes] Arthur's agent; Mary Astor an actress who importunes Arthur to write the play version of his first novel for her; and Kent Smith, Freida's husband. All of these are quite good, but perhaps the best impression is made by Edward Andrews as the acerbic critic Quentin Judd, who rips apart Hawke's latest novel in front of a large gathering. Young Pat Cardi [Let's Kill Uncle] is also effective in the role of Freida's tragic son.

Verdict: Entertaining and fast-moving, but only Hollywood's idea of a writer's life. ***.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - Gosh, but James Franciscus was blindingly handsome! He died too young...

I need to see this one again...I love Mildred Dunnock and of course, the divine husky-voiced Ms. Pleshette. I love these glossy escapist pics from the 60s peopled by impossibly beautiful people!

My fave Franciscus: in a loin cloth in Beneath the Planet of the Apes!

William said...

Must check out "Beneath" immediately, LOL!

Franciscus was good-looking, but I felt merely a competent actor, although he was more talented than poor Troy Donahue.

Mildred Dunnock is always great!