The Young Lovers (1964 film)

The Young Lovers is a 1964 black-and-white American romantic drama film.[1] It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in November 1964.[2] The sole directorial effort of its producer, Samuel Goldwyn Jr.,[3] it stars Peter Fonda[4] and Sharon Hugueny,[5] with second leads Nick Adams and Deborah Walley.[6] Scripted by George Garrett from a 1955 novel by Julian Halevy, the film was shot in September–October 1963[7] and released a year later.

The Young Lovers
The Young Lovers (1964 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySamuel Goldwyn Jr.
Screenplay byGeorge Garrett
Based onThe Young Lovers
(1955 novel)
by Julian Halevy
Produced bySamuel Goldwyn Jr.
StarringPeter Fonda
Sharon Hugueny
Nick Adams
Deborah Walley
CinematographyJoseph Biroc
Ellsworth Fredericks
Edited byWilliam A. Lyon
Music bySol Kaplan
Tigertail Productions
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • June 23, 1964 (1964-06-23) (United States)

Premiere (in Cleveland):
  • October 14, 1964 (1964-10-14)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States


While attending college, Eddie (Peter Fonda) shares an apartment with another student, nicknamed Tarragoo (Nick Adams). Tarragoo's girlfriend Debbie (Deborah Walley) and her friend Pam (Sharon Hugueny), who is studying to be a teacher and lives with her widowed mother (Beatrice Straight), are frequent visitors. Eddie and Pam develop a close relationship; and, during the time her mother is away from home for a few days, Pam allows Eddie to stay the night. Finding herself pregnant, she tells Eddie who reacts with unhappiness, being low on funds and dismayed by the prospect of losing his scholarship. Pam discusses the situation with her mother, considers having an abortion, decides against it and makes plans to leave.

Meanwhile, Eddie, with help from professors Schwartz (Malachi Throne) and Reese (Joseph Campanella), improves his educational standing by passing an exam and consults with Tarragoo and Debbie who advise him to take the morally correct path. At the crossroads of integrity, Eddie chooses rectitude and goes to Pam's mother, intent upon telling her so. Learning that Pam has already departed, he aims to follow her, with the conviction that whatever life offers, they will be able to face it together.[8]



The film was based on a novel by blacklisted screenwriter Julian Zimet, writing as Julian Halavey, which was published in 1956. It was optioned as a Broadway play but no stage production resulted. Goldwyn purchased the screen rights in March 1957, intending to make it after The Proud Rebel.[9][10] Robert Dozier wrote the first script and Goldwyn launched a talent quest to find 100 young lovers, who could appear in the film.[11]

The film took a number of years to be made, in part because Goldwyn was unhappy with the scripts he had written. "None of them caught the spirit, attitudes or the idiom of young people," he said.[12]

The script was eventually written by George Garrett, an assistant professor of English whose prose Goldwyn admired. It was his first screenplay.[13]

Goldwyn decided to direct himself because he "wanted total control".[14]

Goldwyn wanted Richard Beymer for a lead part.[15] Peter Fonda was cast on the basis of his stage performance in Blood, Sweat and Stanley Poole.

Goldwyn struggled to raise finance because of the lack of a major star. Eventually he and partner Doug Netter raised the money from eight investors, most of whom where in exhibition, over four months.[16]

Filming started in September 1963.[17]

Distribution rights were sold to MGM in May 1964.[18]

Goldwyn went on a lecture tour with the film.[13]


"There is a moment when the rest of the world ceases to exist."[19]


The New York Times Guide to Movies on TV (1970 edition, edited by Howard Thompson), starting with the write-up tagline "Uh-huh", provides a one-sentence overview of the plot and describes the film as "A tasteful, occasionally interesting and tentative little drama, that seems decorously light years away from today's campus realism but even on its own terms disappointingly beats a retreat from reality". The review also praises Malachi Throne, Joseph Campanella and Beatrice Straight, and ends with "Best of all are Nick Adams as Fonda's roommate and Deborah Walley as his peppery, virtuous little quarry." A small photograph from the film depicts the four young leads sharing a drink.[20]

Steven H. Scheuer's Movies on TV (1986–87 edition) gives The Young Lovers 1 star (out of 4), describing it as "pangs of first love, Hollywood-style" and concluding, As usual, the principals act more dopey than romantic". By the 1993–1994 edition, the conclusion had been deleted, leaving only the description. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide (2009 edition) manages a higher rating, 2 stars (out of 4), but not a higher opinion, dismissing it as an "Amateurish, meandering drama of college youth involved in romance".[21]

The Motion Picture Guide (1987 edition) goes half a step higher than Maltin, assigning 2½ stars (out of 5) and deciding that "This 'youth in trouble' film is hardly fresh in story content and is lacking in production values". The review also notes that "The direction is choppy, with a somewhat confusing time frame, but the cast proves able to overcome the problems and inherent soap-opera qualities of the script".


  1. ^ Howard Thompson (February 11, 1965). "Movie Review: The Young Lovers". The New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  2. ^ No byline (February 28, 1964). "To Preview Film: Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Sets Visit". The Free Lance-Star. Retrieved February 4, 2014. (includes photograph with caption "Producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. coaches actress Sharon Hugueny for her role in "The Young Lovers".)
  3. ^ Thomas, Bob (September 25, 1963). "Goldwyn Jr. Rolls On As He Gets His Feet Wet". Sarasota Journal. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  4. ^ Johnson, Erskine (October 27, 1963). "Hollywood Today! Movies — Television". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved February 4, 2014. (includes photograph with caption "CHIP OFF A STAR—When Peter Fonda, son of star Henry, decided acting was his dish, wild horses couldn't hold him. Here, he's shown with Sharon Hugueny in his fourth film, "The Young Lovers".)
  5. ^ No byline (March 4, 1964). "Spurred by TV: Goldwyn Sees Movie Comeback". The Free Lance-Star. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  6. ^ Thomas, Bob (October 17, 1964). "Something Lost in Translation". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  7. ^ Garrett, George; Hardison, O. B.; Gelfman, Jane R. Film Scripts, Volume 3. Ardent Media, 1989. ISBN 0829022775
  8. ^ No byline (1964). "Black-and-white photograph of Peter Fonda and Sharon Hugueny from The Young Lovers". Photo. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  9. ^ Goldwyn Jr. Purchases 'Young Lovers'; Ekberg Wanted as Sex Charmer Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 4 Mar 1957: B11.
  10. ^ NOVEL BY HALEVY WILL BE FILMED: 'The Young Lovers' Slated for Production by Samuel Goldwyn Jr. This Year 'Lord Jim' Acquired Of Local Origin By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times. 4 Mar 1957: 30.
  11. ^ Sam Goldwyn Jr. Seeks Couples Los Angeles Times 4 Aug 1957: E4.
  12. ^ Goldwyn Tells Why He Turned Director: 'Youwig Lovers' a Challenge; 'How to Succeed' Own Proof Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 11 Oct 1963: D13.
  13. ^ a b Young Sam Goldwyn wins campus crowd By Frederick H. Guidry. The Christian Science Monitor 12 May 1964: 8.
  14. ^ GOLDWYN JR. WINS VASSAR AUDIENCE: Lectures on His New Film and Shows in Preview By EUGENE ARCHERSpecial to The New York Times. 3 Apr 1964: 27.
  15. ^ Fire on 'Peking' Set Perils Ava Gardner: 'Baby Jane' Plot Horrendous; Gordon Fine in 'Defenders' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 1 Nov 1962: C8.
  16. ^ HOLLYWOOD 'LOVERS': Young Samuel Goldwyn Views College Life Academic Help Autobiography By MURRAY SCHUMACH. New York Times 13 Oct 1963: 127.
  17. ^ Pay-TV in Canada Reported Falling Off: Film Paper Prints Findings; Brooks Directs 'Catch 22' Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 6 Sep 1963: C9.
  18. ^ Goldwyn Jr. Puts Movie to Acid Test: Producer Goes to Colleges to Show His College Film Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 19 May 1964: C9.
  19. ^ Film poster for The Young Lovers (1964)
  20. ^ Lobby cards and stills of Peter Fonda and Sharon Hugueny from The Young Lovers
  21. ^ Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide. Penguin, 2008, page 1578 ISBN 0452289785

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