Young Man with Ideas (1952): Mitchell Leisen’s Romantic Comedy, Starring Glenn Ford and Ruth Roman

A minor domestic farce directed by Mitchell Leisen toward the end of his career, Young Man with Ideas stars Ruth Roman and Glenn Ford.

Young Man with Ideas
Young Man with Ideas FilmPoster.jpeg

Grade: C (*1/2 out of *****)

Ford plays Maxwell Webster, a Montana attorney whose career isn’t going as well as wife Julie feels it should be. She gets tipsy at a country club dinner and praises her husband’s work in front of colleagues, then urges him to ask boss Edmund Jethrow for a partnership; instead, he loses his job.

They move to Los Angeles for a fresh start, but they can only afford a modest house where a bookie operation seems to be sharing their telephone line. The kind-hearted Max has only $12 to his name but lends it to a nightclub singer, Dorianne Grey. He shares books with young Joyce Laramie as both study for their California bar exam, which Joyce already has failed twice.

The gambler Eddie wrongly believes that Max is the bookie who owes him $800. Joyce helps get Max a job with a collection agency, which uses questionable business tactics.

When Julie writes home to Montana, trying to get Max his old job back, he is upset by her lack of confidence in him.

Eddie turns up and threatens Max, who slugs him. This leads to mob boss Brick Davis’ getting involved and a brawl in Eddie’s club, where Dorianne performs.

Max is arrested and, over Julie’s objections, defends himself in court in the movie’s most tedious sequence. After winning the case, Joyce reveals that they’ve both passed the bar.  Julie is delighted that a successful lawyer who witnessed Max’s work in court, has offered him a job.

One of Leisen’s last and lesser outings, Young Man with Ideas is a trifle of a movie, slightly elevated by the caliber of the appealing cast and a brisk pace, but it lacks genuinely comic ideas and the subtle and sophisticated touch shown by Leisen in his earlier and better features.

The movie was a big commercial flop, failing to recoup its budget.


Glenn Ford as Max Webster
Ruth Roman as Julie Webster
Nina Foch as Joyce Laramie
Denise Darcel as Dorianne
Ray Collins as Jethrow
Sheldon Leonard as Rodwell ‘Brick’ Davis


Directed by Mitchell Leisen
Produced by Gottfried Reinhardt, William H. Wright
Written by Ben Barzman, Arthur Sheekman
Music by David Rose
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Edited by Fredrick Y. Smith
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: May 2, 1952

Running time: 85 minutes


TCM showed this comedy on August 16, as part of a tribute to Nina Foch.