AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Young Sinners
Director: John Blystone (Dir)
Release Date:   17 May 1931
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 8 May 1931
Duration (in mins):   70 or 78-79
Duration (in feet):   7,100
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Cast:   Hardie Albright (Gene Gibson)  
    Thomas Meighan (Tom McGuire)  
    Dorothy Jordan (Constance Sinclair)  
    Cecilia Loftus (Caroline Sinclair)  
    James Kirkwood (John Gibson)  
    Edmund Breese (Trent)  
    Lucien Prival (Baron Karl Franz Josef von Konetz)  
    Edward Nugent (Bud)  
    Gaylord Pendleton (Reggie)  
    David Rollins (Tommy)  
    Arnold Lucy (Butler)  
    Nora Lane (Maggie McGuire)  
    Joan Castle (Sue)  
    John Arledge (Jimmy)  
    Yvonne Pelletier (Madge)  
    Billy Butts (Timmy McGuire)  
    Sid Jordan (Sleigh driver)  
    Dixie Lee    

Summary: Teenage sweethearts Constance Sinclair and Gene Gibson carouse on a Florida beach with a group of their high society friends. When the alcohol supply runs low, the couple go to "rum row" in Gene's speedboat, but are arrested by revenue officers as they return to the party. Connie's prim mother Caroline is furious when, as a result of the arrest, a photograph of Connie in a revealing bathing suit is published in a local newspaper. Determined to separate Connie from the dissolute Gene, Caroline takes her on to Samoa, where they meet the pretentious Baron Karl Franz Josef von Konetz, and Caroline arranges his engagement to Connie. When the Sinclairs and the baron return home to celebrate the engagement, Connie is surprised by the sudden appearance of Gene, who had not contacted her while she was away. Gene assures Connie of his love for her, and Connie rushes off to tell her mother that she will not marry von Konetz. While Connie is absent, however, Gene learns of her engagement to the baron and leaves after writing her a note of congratulations. The disspirited Connie then agrees to go along with Caroline's plans, while Gene engages in a three-day drunken party that forces the apartment manager to summon Gene's hypocritical father John. The elder Gibson is disgusted by his son's behavior, but cannot defend himself against Gene's charges of neglect. John's adviser Trent counsels him to entrust Gene to the care of Tom McGuire, an Adirondack guide who specializes in "rebuilding rich men's sons." McGuire arrives and, after explaining to John that he will build up Gene physically, leaves with the youth, who resents his Irish tutor. At McGuire's cabin in the Airondacks, Gene vows to improve himself so that he can beat up McGuire, but as the weeks pass and his strength and clarity of mind return, he grudgingly begins to respect him. Gene is also impressed by McGuire's devotion to his wife Maggie and young son Timmy and wishes that his father had been as attentive as McGuire. The test of Gene's newfound determination comes when he convinces McGuire to attend his sister's wedding. McGuire is reluctant to leave the youth alone, but Gene assures him that he can be trusted. Once McGuire leaves, however, Connie appears. Gene is glad to see her, but insists that she return to her hotel to spend the night. When a snowstorm prevents her from leaving, Connie attempts to seduce Gene, but he locks himself in his bedroom. The next morning, an admiring Connie admits that Gene has changed for the better. When McGuire returns to the cabin before Connie leaves, he is furious upon discovering that she spent the night there. Before Gene can explain, McGuire hits him, and the two are brawling when John, Caroline and Trent arrive for a visit. Gene bests McGuire and explains that he wishes to marry Connie. John gives his consent and offers Gene a job and an apartment, and Caroline, who learned her lesson about matchmaking when the baron was arrested for writing bad checks, also approves. McGuire pronounces that Gene has graduated and tells the sweethearts that if they make friends of their children, they will not need the likes of him. Connie calls McGuire an "old sweetie," and the grateful Gene tells him that he is a real pal. 

Production Company: Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Fox Film Corp.  
Director: John Blystone (Dir)
  Jasper Blystone (Asst dir)
  Samuel T. Godfrey (Stage dir)
Producer: William Fox (Pres)
Writer: William Conselman (Adpt, cont and dial)
Photography: John Seitz (Photog)
Art Direction: Gordon Wiles (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ralph Dixon (Film ed)
Costumes: Sophie Wachner (Cost)
Sound: E. Clayton Ward (Sd rec)
Stand In: Sid Jordan (Fight double for Thomas Meighan)
  Sigurd Wathne (Ski double for Hardie Albright)
  Eva Monrad (Ski double for Dorothy Jordan)
  H. P. Devick (Ski double for Thomas Meighan)
Country: United States

Songs: "You Called It Love" and "Better Wait Till You're Eighteen," music and lyrics by James F. Hanley.
Composer: James F. Hanley
Source Text: Based on the play Young Sinners by Elmer Harris (New York, 28 Nov 1929).
Authors: Elmer Harris

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Fox Film Corp. 27/4/1931 dd/mm/yyyy LP2193 Yes

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric System

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: with songs
Subjects (Major): Adirondack Mountains
Subjects (Minor): Beaches
  False accusations
  Fathers and sons
  Irish Americans
  Mothers and daughters
  Neglected children
  Samoan Islands
  Snow storms
  Tests of character

Note: The play was copyrighted under the title Wings of Youth . According to the contract with the playwright in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Fox agreed not to release the film nationally until 1 Jan 1931, until 1 Apr 1931 in Philadelphia, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Detroit, and until 1 Aug 1931 in the United Kingdom, unless a run of the play in those places had already ended. The company paid the author $55,000 for the motion picture rights, which at the time was a high figure. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the ULCA Theater Arts Library contains an adaptation by Maurine Watkins that is dated before any material written by William Conselman. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, also at UCLA, Watkins' material was not used in the final film. According to NYT , this was Thomas Meighan's first film in two years. Var notes that Dorothy Jordan was borrowed from M-G-M and that the film included some newsreel ski shots. Var complained that "padding is responsible for the running time of 79 minutes" and suggested that "theatres which want to chop will find the trimming easy to do with the film in better shape at around the hour mark." The running time is, in fact, listed at 70 minutes in MPH release charts dated after the film's release. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   10 May 31   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Apr 31   p. 2.
New York Times   9 May 31   p. 15.
Variety   13 May 31   p. 36.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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