Cast & Crew
Energetic New York teenager Joan Lyons is the president of Guiding Stars, Ltd., a high school fan club, whose members are required to collect four movie star autographs every month. As soon as Joan and her best friend, Patricia "Patsy" Drew, learn that Greer Garson has just arrived in town, they track her to her hotel. There Joan tries to trick her way up to the star's room by posing on the phone as Louella Parsons. Garson overhears Joan's impersonation and, to the girls's astonishment, invites them to her room. Over tea, the girls interrogate the ever-polite Garson and are further delighted when Walter Pidgeon, Garson's popular co-star, shows up. Pidgeon is also kind and patient with Joan and Patsy and happily signs their autograph books. When Joan finally returns home, her father, tax lawyer Burton V. Lyons, is furious with her for being late and refuses to believe her story about Garson and Pidgeon. As punishment, Burton orders Joan to stay home that night, but after he and her mother Edith leave for the evening, Joan, her boyfriend Schuyler and her garrulous younger brother Junior go to the movies. To their dismay, Burton is waiting for them when they return and informs Joan the next day that her allowance has been cut off. Junior's meddlesome governess, Miss Featherstone, is also in trouble with Burton and receives a lecture from him in his office. Afterward, she sees his secretary, Susan Thayer, model a lacy nightgown for him and, unaware that Susan is in love with Burton's shy associate, Douglas Sutton, and the nightgown is an anniversary present for Edith, assumes the worst. Later, during a Guiding Stars meeting at her apartment, Joan learns from new member Vera Bailey that Robert Taylor is in New York. While Joan is calling hotels to find out where Taylor is staying, Susan is trying to call the Lyons' home to tell Miss Featherstone to pack Burton's suitcase for a brief business trip. Unable to get through, Susan telephones the neighbor's apartment, and her call is answered by Taylor, who happens to be staying there. Unaware to whom she is speaking, Susan asks Taylor to deliver the message to the Lyons', and he shocks the Guiding Stars when he appears on Joan's doorstep. Later, Susan shares a taxicab with Doug, who finally confesses his love and proposes. After the now ecstatic Susan drops off some flowers and a letter for Edith from Burton, which explains why he cannot give her an anniversary present until he returns, Miss Featherstone destroys both the flowers and the letter. Miss Featherstone then tells Joan that her father is having an affair with Susan. Concerned, Joan and Patsy follow Susan to the train station and see her father give Susan a congratulatory hug before he boards the train. With her worst fears seemingly confirmed, Joan goes to see Walter Pidgeon for advice. Although Pidgeon counsels Joan to stay out of her parents' affairs, Joan decides the only way to save their marriage is to make her father jealous. To that end, she hires Italian strong man Hercules to impersonate a diplomat at a charity ball that her parents are attending on their anniversary and flirt with her mother. When she discovers that she doesn't have enough money to pay Hercules or rent his tuxedo, Joan sells her beloved autograph book to Vera for $25. Joan then persuades her unsuspecting mother to try a new, more glamorous look. At the ball, the crude but persistent Hercules, whom Joan introduces as "Dr. Hercules," succeeds in making Burton jealous and provokes him to fight. After he is knocked down, Burton notices the rental label on Hercules coat and accuses him of being an impostor. Hercules then reveals all to Burton and Edith, and when Burton discredits Miss Featherstone's assumptions, a shamed Joan runs away. At the Lyons', Burton confronts Miss Featherstone, who admits her deeds and is fired. Later, with Patsy's help, the Lyons' deduce that Joan has become a Salvation Army volunteer. After a tearful reunion, Joan returns home with her parents, who have bought back her autograph book from Vera, but is so tired that she fails to notice that William Powell is riding in the elevator with her.
Marcia Mae Jones
Beverly Jean Saul
Leigh De Lacy
Edwin B. Willis
B. F. Zeidman
The Youngest Profession
The Youngest Profession was both a way for MGM to show off its cavalcade of major stars and a way to provide a showcase for juvenile actress Virginia Weidler. She had been a notable child actress, co-starring in numerous high profile MGM projects including The Women (1939) and The Philadelphia Story (1940). However, Weidler never became popular with the movie-going public, and the studio had a challenging time finding parts that suited her particular talents. MGM had originally purchased the rights to Lillian Day's 1940 novel The Youngest Profession as a potential vehicle for Judy Garland, but it was eventually determined that Garland was too mature for the part. The Youngest Profession proved to be Virginia Weidler's second to last film that she ever made before abandoning show business altogether.
Although Weidler is a joy to watch, The Youngest Profession is really all about the MGM stars sprinkled throughout. Lana Turner, Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Taylor and William Powell all make appearances as they have memorable encounters with the young autograph seekers.
Banking on the star power of the high profile cameos alone, MGM decided to premiere The Youngest Profession at the glamorous Radio City Music Hall. It was a lavish affair for what was essentially a lightweight, but charming, film. Despite a tepid critical response, The Youngest Profession found a solid audience and made MGM a tidy profit upon its initial release.
Producer: B.F. Zeidman
Director: Edward Buzzell
Screenplay: George Oppenheimer, Charles Lederer, Leonard Spigelgass; Lillian Day (book); Jan Fortune (contributing writer uncredited)
Cinematography: Charles Lawton
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Music: David Snell
Film Editing: Ralph Winters
Cast: Virginia Weidler (Joan Lyons), Edward Arnold (Burton V. Lyons), John Carroll (Dr. Hercules), Anne Ayars (Susan Thayer), Marta Linden (Edith Lyons), Dick Simmons (Douglas Sutton), Agnes Moorehead (Miss Featherstone), Jean Porter (Patricia Drew), Raymond Roe (Schuyler).
by Andrea Passafiume
The Youngest Profession
The opening sequence of this film includes a scene with Lana Turner, in which Turner dictates a fan letter to "Joan Lyons" from her office at the M-G-M studios in Culver City, CA. As "Joan," Virginia Weidler performs a comic impersonation of noted columnist Louella Parsons. Brief excerpts from the 1942 M-G-M picture Crossroads , starring Hedy Lamarr and William Powell, are featured during the movie theater scene.
According to Hollywood Reporter news items, M-G-M purchased Lillian Day's novel in 1940 as a vehicle for Judy Garland, but assigned Virginia Weidler to the lead after Garland was deemed too old for the part. Hollywood Reporter announced in November 1942 that Groucho Marx's daughter Miriam had tested for a role in the picture and that Cliff Danielson was cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The Youngest Profession marked the screen debut of actress Beverly Tyler (1927-2005), who was billed for this one film under her real name, Beverly Jean Saul.