This was Harmon Jones' first job as a director, after working as an ace editor for 20th Century Fox for some time (THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET, BOOMERANG, ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM were all edited by Jones). It's a good one, though not so much for Marilyn Monroe's brief appearance. She's good, but she's not "Marilyn" in this one, and in only one brief moment, when she sticks out her tongue pertly at her exasperating boss, will viewers recognize the comic Marilyn of the years to come. That said, she is already very beautiful, but this is a movie filled with beautiful women paired with homely or goofball guys.
The best reason to watch AS YOUNG AS YOU FEEL is for the charming performance by veteran Constance Bennett. "Connie" plays Lucille McKinley, a discontented society wife whose husband (Albert Dekker, a creep) is only interested in money and social position (and in Marilyn, his secretary), leaving poor Connie to fritter around looking for love in all the wrong places. She is wonderful playing the part, her long years as a star allowing her to steal the show whenever she appears on screen. She has a wide range of facial expressions, pouts and moues, and you can read her thoughts through her eyes--a marvelous gift for an actress. Her interplay with her son, the teenage Russ Tamblyn, is priceless. He can see right through her to her inner insecurity, and he plays on it for all it's worth. The scenes where she responds to Monty Woolley's invitation to "rhumba" with him are beautifully played and should have garnered Constance Bennett an Oscar nomination.
Jean Peters, meanwhile, plays the daughter of Allyn Joslyn and Thelma Ritter. They're all sitting around the breakfast table acting very Brooklyn and ethnic (it's the same menage author Paddy Chayefsky used later, to better effect, in his screenplay for A CATERED AFFAIR), in rumpled bathrobes, and meanwhile Jean Peters is eating breakfast in a sleeveless skintight evening gown cut down to there. She's very alluring, you can see why David Wayne is so mad about her. On the other hand, Thelma Ritter plays Della as though the spirit of camp had pitched its last tent on her aging brow. I usually love her, but she is completely overboard in this one, playing a housewife who regrets the day when she used to be "on the stage" as some kind of nightclub singer. The soundtrack plays "Temptation" whenever she appears or reaches for her scrapbook of her show business past. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.
The central gimmick is so implausible it's not even worth mentioning, but you get the picture, somehow everyone in America mistakes Monty Woolley for someone he's not, and he becomes famous for it. Watching this today, it's clear that Harmon Jones had the talent to be a new kind of Billy Wilder, but subsequent studio interference saw him switch his attention from social comedies like this one, to B Westerns, and then out of features entirely and into TV. It's a shame, isn't it, but his inspired direction of the sublime Constance Bennett will live as long as anything by, say, Ernst Lubitsch, it's that delightful.