The 1950s was the decade of young rebels battling against a society that didn’t understand them. Columbia Pictures waded into the youth film noir genre with No Time to Be Young (1957) with the ad slogan, "Too old to be teenagers…too young to be adults. The story of today’s “get lost” generation.” The three rebels are Buddy Root (Robert Vaughn), Bob Miller (Roger Smith) and Stu Bradley (Tom Pittman), who each had his own reason for committing a robbery.
Buddy flunked out of college, despite having an affair with one of his instructors, Doris Dexter (Dorothy Green). To make matters worse, he had recently been drafted into the military and had no intention of serving, so he dreams of buying a boat and sailing away from all his problems. Bob was having a romance with a flighty waitress Gloria Stuben (Merry Anders), but she gets drunk while on a date with him and falls off her roof, injuring her back. Guilt-ridden, Bob feels responsible for taking care of her, even though she rejected his marriage proposal. Stu secretly married his rich sweetheart Tina Parner (Kathleen Nolan) but feeling pressure to impress her father, he lies to his wife that he sold the rights to his novel and is embarrassed when he must admit the book was rejected. Since all three are cash-strapped, Buddy suggests they rob the supermarket where Bob works and then take the money and escape to South America. The robbery takes place and someone is killed, but it is only the beginning of the tragedy.
Although The Hollywood Reporter listed prolific screenwriter Philip Yordan (El Cid, 1961) as working on No Time to Be Young, the film screenplay was written by John McPartland and Raphael Hayes. Helming the film was director David Lowell Rich, making his feature film debut. Rich would spend the majority of his career in television, working on series like Mission: Impossible and Mannix, as well as many made-for-television films. Filming on No Time to Be Young began on the Columbia Pictures lot on Halloween 1956 and wrapped three weeks later on November 19.
This was an exciting time for leading man Robert Vaughn. Hecht-Lancaster (the production company that actor Burt Lancaster formed with his agent, Harold Hecht) had signed him and he was loaned out to Columbia Pictures for No Time to Be Young. However, Vaughn was not a shoo-in for the role; Clint Eastwood had also been considered for the part of Buddy Root. Vaughn’s personal life was also looking up as he was dating a young Natalie Wood. The two were seen everywhere in Los Angeles and Wood impressed Vaughn by introducing him to her friends, like Frank Sinatra. She also accompanied Vaughn to the studio for his wardrobe test for No Time to Be Young.
Two events stood out for Vaughn from that day. It was the first time that he ever saw Steve McQueen and the first time he met the legendary Columbia Pictures studio chief, Harry Cohn. Vaughn would later write in his autobiography, A Fortunate Life, “Natalie introduced me to him as a future comer. Harry looked me up and down and snapped, ‘How big are you?’ (Harry himself was on the short side.) I replied, ‘If you mean how tall am I, I’m as tall as Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier. Is that big enough?’ Natalie blanched, but Harry, unsmiling, said, ‘He’ll do fine,’ and walked off.” Although Vaughn had already appeared in the Western Hell’s Crossroads (1957) prior to No Time to Be Young, his credit read, “Introducing Robert Vaughn.” Ironically, like his screen character Buddy Root, Vaughn had also just been called up for military service. No Time to Be Young would be his last film before duty called, which must have been frustrating since his career was taking off. Vaughn would later write, “I’m sure my actual feelings at the time helped to color my performance.”