Cast & Crew
Robert Z. Leonard
Aspiring classical pianist Cynthia Potter is frustrated that concert booker Eric Wainwright is always too busy to see her. After six broken appointments, she overhears his receptionist discussing an open audition for children and decides to disguise herself as a twelve-year-old to get his attention. Cynthia's boyfriend, reporter John Tirsen, has grown weary of her unsuccessful quest for a career and asks her to marry him, but she can only think of her chance at a concert. At the children's audition that night, Cynthia arrives wearing phony braces and a childish outfit, then, playing under the name "Molly" Potter, overwhelms the previously bored Eric by her interpretation of Chopin's "Revolutionary Etude." Eric immediately goes backstage to talk about signing her for a concert, then walks her back home when she says that her older sister "Cynthia" could not come with her. The next morning, Eric excitedly mobilizes his staff to arrange for a publicity build-up for his child prodigy, then goes to meet Cynthia. Seeing Eric from her window, Cynthia plays another piece on her piano as he arrives. Eric thinks that Molly is there, but when she tells him that she was playing and indicates that she wants a concert tour, he lets her know that it is Molly's youth that makes her so special. He thinks that Cynthia is just jealous of Molly and they argue, but she eventually signs the contract for Molly. That afternoon, Cynthia, again dressed as Molly, arrives at Eric's office and begins rehearsing. After hours of practice, Eric takes Molly home and becomes worried when Cynthia has still not come home at eight o'clock. Deciding that he should take Molly for dinner, he leaves the apartment with her and is seen by a surprised John, who follows them to the restaurant. When John approaches their table, Cynthia talks so fast that John cannot get a word in until after she has told Eric that John is Cynthia's fiancé. When Eric leaves the table to make a phone call, Cynthia begs John to keep her secret so she can get her concert date, and he reluctantly agrees. When she then grabs his drink and cigarette, the waiter sees her and immediately tells Eric, who is incensed. Eric grabs Molly and drives her to his house in the country to keep her away from what he assumes is the bad influence of Cynthia and John. Molly behaves as a brat to housekeeper Mrs. Boykin and to Eric, and only promises to give up cigarettes and alcohol, which she says she has indulged in for years, if Eric does. The next day, Eric complains to Mrs. Boykin that he has always wanted to find and guide a child prodigy but has a hard time warming to the obnoxious Molly. That afternoon, Eric drives her to town and while there calls his office. Cynthia, meanwhile, is in another phone booth calling the office as herself and the receptionist connects them. They argue again but Cynthia agrees to let "Molly" stay in the country. That night, Eric is so desperate for a cigarette and a drink that he scours the house, then dives into the pool to retrieve one of the liquor bottles that Molly threw in. When she throws the bottle back into the water, Eric has had enough and gives her a spanking. The next day, Cynthia is still sore from the spanking and when John secretly comes to the house, she begs him not to spoil things for her, promising that he can do a story that will expose Eric as a fraud after her concert. John agrees, then kisses her goodbye on the lips. Eric sees the kiss and, assuming that John is taking advantage of Molly, knocks him out and sends him away. Cynthia is impressed by Eric's gesture and the two soon grow close. By the time they return to New York, Eric has been so kind to "Molly" that Cynthia has fallen in love with him and does not want to go through with the story, especially after John has a photographer take what could be interpreted as a compromising picture of them kissing. The night before the concert, Eric tucks "Molly" in and tells that he wants to adopt her because she has no one else. Cynthia then kisses him full on the mouth. A confused Eric quickly leaves, after which Cynthia sneaks out to meet John and ask him not to run the story. She suggests disappearing after the concert, but he explains that Molly's fame would make that impossible. The next morning, Cynthia dresses as herself and goes to see Eric, hoping that he will like her, but he rebuffs her. Now certain that Eric could never love the real her, Cynthia tells John she will marry him if he pulls the story. She arranges to meet him late that night at the train station, but does not tell him that she still plans to perform. Just before the concert, a reporter shows Eric a newspaper headline about Molly/Cynthia. Shaken and disillusioned, Eric goes onstage and tells the audience he has been duped, but asks them to stay and listen to a brilliant pianist. He leaves during the performance, for which Cynthia is given a standing ovation. She rushes to the train to confront John, who says he only ran the story when he learned that she lied about performing. The train is soon boarded by the police, who have been told by Eric that John is contributing to the deliquency of a minor. As Cynthia is still dressed as Molly, they arrest John. Eric then grabs Cynthia from the train and kisses her.
Robert Z. Leonard
Jack D. Moore
Conrad A. Nervig
Edwin B. Willis
Best Art Direction
Too Young to Kiss
Too Young to Kiss was also a romantic comedy, with Allyson playing a struggling concert pianist who poses as a child prodigy in order to get an audition with impresario Johnson. Complications include Allyson's boyfriend, played by Gig Young. Johnson catches Allyson smoking and drinking and tries to "reform" her, and he is comically confused by his less-than-paternal feelings for her.
The script for Too Young to Kiss was by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, the husband and wife team responsible for films such as The Thin Man (1934), and Father of the Bride (1950). While the banter in Too Young to Kiss never rises to the level of sophistication of the former, or the wit of the latter, it was, as the Variety critic noted, "an entertaining comedy...being the kind of easy fun that permits an audience to relax and chuckle without strain."
Allyson was 34, playing a woman in her 20s pretending to be a 12-year old. But even in 1951, before children became little sophisticates, a 12-year old who walks pigeon-toed, wears pinafores, and plays with teddy bears and blocks was highly unlikely. As John McCarten wrote in the New Yorker, "Miss Allyson is about as plausible in her role as Dame May Whitty would be as Cinderella." And even Johnson's boyish charm was by this time starting to cloy, according to Bosley Crowther of the New York Times. "Although he isn't supposed to pretend any less than something under 30....there are times when he, too, might merit a pinch on the cheek and a 'kitchy-kitchy coo.'" In spite of such critical barbs, Too Young to Kiss did fairly well at the box office. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Cedric Gibbons and Paul Groesse's art direction.
In real life, Allyson and Johnson were the best of friends, but were never romantically involved, contrary to what their fans believed. In her autobiography, Allyson tells a story of one Halloween that she and her husband Dick Powell and their children spent with Johnson's family, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. At one point, Allyson and Johnson opened the door together to a group of teenagers, one of whom said to another, "See, I told you they were married in real life."
Allyson, who left MGM in 1954, would go from All-American Sweetheart to All-American Wife, playing loyal helpmeet to James Stewart (three films), William Holden, Cornell Wilde, Alan Ladd, and Leslie Nielsen. But her attempt to change her wholesome image by playing a controlling wife in The Shrike (1955) was unsuccessful. Johnson had better luck shedding his boyish image, playing a dramatic role in The Caine Mutiny (1954) on loanout to Columbia. After leaving MGM in 1956, he did a stage production of The Music Man in London in 1963, and several sophisticated comedies on stage and film. He and Allyson remained lifelong friends until Allyson's death in 2006.
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Producer: Sam Zimbalist
Screenplay: Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett, based on a story by Everett Freeman
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Editor: Conrad A. Nervig
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse
Music: Johnny Green
Principal Cast: June Allyson (Cynthia Potter), Van Johnson (Eric Wainwright), Gig Young (John Tirsen), Paula Corday (Denise Dorcet), Kathryn Givney (Miss Benson), Larry Keating (Danny Cutler), Hans Conried (Mr. Sparrow), Esther Dale (Mrs. Boykin).
BW-89m. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
Too Young to Kiss
The film's working title was All Too Young. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Everett Freeman's story was bought by M-G-M in February 1949. At that time June Allyson and Robert Taylor were announced as the production's stars and Freeman was to write the screenplay. A March 28, 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Freeman's fee for the story was reduced from $60,000 to $45,000 when he moved to Warner Bros. to write the script for their 1950 film Pretty Baby (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50), and thus would not be available to work on the screenplay based on his story for Too Young to Kiss.
Hollywood Reporter news items during production included Don Taylor and Dan Foster as cast members, but neither was in the released film. News items also include dancer Marika Aba and the Peter Meremblum Junior Symphony Orchestra in the cast, but their appearance has not been confirmed. A May 9, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item indicated that Bronsilau Kaper would score the film, but his contribution to the film is doubtful. Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Ray June as the film's director of photography, but only Joseph Ruttenberg is credited onscreen and in reviews. Cedric Gibbons and Paul Groesse were nominated for an Academy Award for Art Direction (black and white) for the film.
Released in United States Fall November 22, 1951
Everett Freeman's story was bought by MGM in February, 1949. When Freeman moved to Warner Bros. to write Pretty Baby, his fee for Too Young to Kiss was reduced from $60,000 to $45,000 because he would not be available to write the screenplay based on his story.
Screenplay writers Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett were the husband and wife team who also wrote The Thin Man (1934) and Father of the Bride (1950).
The fourth of five films to co-star June Allyson and Van Johnson.
Released in United States Fall November 22, 1951