Young Couples Only (1955, Richard Irving)

Young Couples Only is really good. Especially when you consider how Bill Williams is so weak in the lead and how director Irving never does anything special. He never does anything bad, he just doesn’t do anything special. He certainly doesn’t keep Williams in line. It’s probably a very good thing Williams’s real-life wife Barbara Hale plays his TV wife here. She can carry the scenes for him. And the other scenes usually have Peter Lorre, who does a phenomenal job implying all sorts of depth to his quirky character.

Hale and Williams live in a very nice apartment building. Furnished for–adjusted for inflation–about $600 a month. The only rules are the residents have to be couples, they have to be young, they have to be fit. Williams is an illustrator who isn’t particularly insightful; there’s a brief subplot about Hale not getting his humor (but other men do) but since it turns out Hale is right about everything in the world, maybe Williams doesn’t know what he’s doing.

See, Hale thinks there’s something funny about Lorre, who’s playing the janitor. He gives Hale and the other wives in the building the creeps, even though he’s never really done anything. Other than be Peter Lorre. Williams dismisses Hale–her exasperation at his inability to get past dismissing her because, well, she’s a woman is phenomenal–while she gets more and more suspicious. Especially after their dog disappears.

There are a series of reveals in the second half, each better than the last. Not sure if Lawrence Kimble’s teleplay had the plot twist smarts or Richard Matheson’s short story, but they come off beautifully. Once Williams is in crisis mode, he’s a lot better. Until then, he’s just either having Hale carry his proverbial water for him or Lorre carry it. Young Couples Only sort of plays like a sitcom, with broad, affable performances from Hale and then Williams, only it turns out the show’s just getting warmed up and Hale’s along with the changing tone…and Williams isn’t.

But it still works out beautifully. Thanks to Lorre, thanks to Hale, thanks to the perfectly competent, unambitious technical execution. Young Couples Only is good.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Richard Irving; teleplay by Lawrence Kimble, based on a story by Richard Matheson; “Studio 57” presented by Joel Aldrich; director of photography, Herbert Kirkpatrick; edited by Edward W. Williams; aired by the DuMont Television Network.

Starring Barbara Hale (Ruth), Bill Williams (Rick), Peter Lorre (Mr. Grover), Danni Sue Nolan (Marge), Robert Quarry (Phil), and Paul Bryar (Officer Johnson).



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THIS POST IS PART OF THE 5TH ANNUAL FAVOURITE TV SHOW EPISODE BLOGATHON HOSTED BY TERENCE TOWLES CANOTE OF A SHROUD OF THOUGHTS


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4 thoughts on “Young Couples Only (1955, Richard Irving)”

  1. I enjoy the anthology programs and syndicated shows of the 1950s. They gave an opportunity for writers, directors, and actors to stretch their muscles, and give the industry a chance to explore what they can do. There is a sort of theatrical, off-the-cuff feel that makes it a fun experience.

    1. Yeah, I feel like there’s a nice nimble attitude to them. Lots of energy from the actors, but also lots of energy from the writers and directors–they’re willing to get special effects egg on their face more than mainstream Hollywood was at the time.

  2. I have seen a few episodes of Studio 57, but “Young Couples Only” isn’t one of them. As a huge fan of both Barbara Hale and Peter Lorre I will definitely have to check it out! Anyway, I have to agree with Paddy about the anthology shows of the Fifties. It always seems to me that, without regular characters to worry about, the writers and directors were more willing to flex their creative muscles. Thank you for taking part in the blogathon!

    1. Thanks for hosting! I always fret about what to write about then love whatever I do 🙂
      And, yes, you should definitely check it out. It’s a nice change of pace–sort of–for Lorre and Hale’s great!

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