Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Young Lovers (1964)

Sometimes a movie doesn't work so much as a film, but rather as a time capsule that captures the mores and mindset set of an era.

1964's The Young Lovers, starring Peter Fonda, Sharon Hugueny, Nick Adams, and Deborah Walley, was one of many films of the period with "Young" in the title: The Young Doctors (1961), The Young Savages (1961), The Young Racers (1963), The Young Swingers (1963), and Young Dillinger (1965, also with Adams). It was as if the studio moguls said, "We need to get more young people into the theaters. Put 'Young' in the title. That'll get 'em!"

The story concerns the romance between two college students, working class art major Eddie (Fonda) and rich-girl-from-a-broken-home Pam (Hugueny), who meet cute, fall in love, and proceed to engage in premarital sexual intercourse. Naturally, this results in Pam's getting pregnant, and at that point, the film veers towards melodrama until its unsatisfying, aggravatingly open-ended conclusion.

Fonda's entrance on an old Triumph motorcylce foreshadows his later, iconic roles in The Wild Angels (1966) and Easy Rider (1969), but his performance here is tentative at best. Although he and Hugueny make a good-looking couple, some of the dialogue between them, such as their mock-Japanese play-acting, is truly cringe-worthy. His character is also something of a dick, and makes Pam's otherwise unmotivated actions in the third act slightly more believable.

In his autobiography, Don't Tell Dad, Fonda remembers the film as having “a small budget and not a lot of rehearsal.”


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