As Young as You Feel is best known as one of Marilyn Monroe's most impressive early performances, but it is a great, entertaining, richly humorous, and thought-provoking movie in its own right. The entire cast is superb, boasting particularly impressive performances from the always acerbically funny Thelma Ritter, supporting actor extraordinaire David Wayne, the lovely Jean Peters, and the impeccably immaculate Monty Woolley. Woolley plays John Hodges, a man who loses his job working a hand press at a printing company when he turns sixty-five, as it is the policy of Consolidated Motors to force all of the workers at its subsidiaries to retire at that age. When he inquires about the parent company, no one seems to know anything about it, not even the president's name. Thus is born a brilliant scheme whereby Hodges dies his white hair and whiskers, assumes the identity of none other than CM president Harold P. Cleveland, and easily convinces the executives of Acme Printing to ignore the mandatory retirement clause in its operations. Things go a little farther than he planned, though, and he soon finds himself giving a speech at the Chamber of Commerce, dining at the country club, and causing a stir among both the public at large and the business world. His speech about the nobility of the worker, the wholly unquantifiable contribution of the aging yet skilled artisan who takes pride in his work, and his emphasis of the individual over the bureaucracy is published and spreads like wildfire, restoring a sense of pride and commitment in the public, sending the stock of Consolidated Motors through the roof, and rallying the entire national economy. This is where things get complicated, as the real president of Consolidated Motors finds out about the great speech "he" made, the truth of the matter begins to slowly work itself out, and a number of related personal issues between many of the prominent characters come to a head.
Marilyn Monroe is absolutely wonderful in her small yet significant role as the secretary to the president of Acme Publishing, demonstrating the beauty, talent (both dramatic and comedic), and charm that would soon make her a superstar. Even though her screen time ranked far below that of several of her talented co-stars and her name appears sixth in the credits, Marilyn was actually featured most prominently in the publicity associated with the movie's release in 1951, which is a remarkable testament to her star potential at that time in Hollywood. Perhaps this role as much as any of her early movie appearances brought her to the attention of the public, the critics (who hailed her performance here), and the powers that be in Hollywood. No Marilyn Monroe fan should forego the privilege of watching her brilliant performance in this heart-warming comedy, and no fan of good movies in general should pass up the opportunity of enjoying a film that gives real meaning to the phrase, "They don't make them like this anymore."