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The Girl Was Young (1937)

Young and Innocent (original title)
Unrated | | Crime, Mystery, Romance | 17 February 1938 (USA)
Man on the run from a murder charge enlists a beautiful stranger who must put herself at risk for his cause.



(novel), (screen play) | 4 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Nova Pilbeam ...
Robert Tisdall (as Derrick de Marney)
Percy Marmont ...
Col. Burgoyne
Edward Rigby ...
Old Will
Mary Clare ...
Erica's Aunt
Det. Insp. Kent
George Curzon ...
Basil Radford ...
Erica's Uncle
Pamela Carme ...
Christine Clay
George Merritt ...
Det. Sgt. Miller
J.H. Roberts ...
Jerry Verno ...
Lorry Driver
H.F. Maltby ...
Police Sergeant
John Miller ...
Police Constable


A film actress is murdered by her estranged husband who is jealous of all her young boyfriends. The next day, writer Robert Tisdall (who happens to be one such boyfriend) discovers her body on the beach. He runs to call the police, however, two witnesses think that he is the escaping murderer. Robert is arrested, but owing to a mix up at the courthouse, he escapes and goes on the run with a police constable's daughter Erica, determined to prove his innocence. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | escape | beach | murder | boy | See All (151) »


The Successor to "39 Steps" See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 February 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Coins for Candles  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Though the film is officially based on the novel "A Shilling for Candles" by Elizabeth Mackintosh (writing under the name "Josephine Tey"), Alfred Hitchcock and his writers only used about one-third of the novel and changed the identity of the murderer. See more »


There is much inconsistency in the newspaper reports of Christine Clay's murder: one is published on Friday September 3rd 1937, but the next is dated Monday January 6th 1936. Another seems to be merely dated Tuesday. See more »


[first lines]
Husband: Christine!
Christine: Don't shout, I tell you! Don't shout!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The screen credits list (seventh in order) a character "Guy", but no character is ever named "Guy" in the movie. The actor matched up in the credits with this non-existent character is George Curzon; Curzon in fact plays the husband of Christine Clay and has a substantial scene with her in the opening scene of the movie. See more »


Referenced in Hitchcock: The Early Years (1999) See more »


May I Have the Next Romance With You
Written by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel
See more »

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User Reviews

Quintessential British Hitchcock
14 May 2001 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

"Young and Innocent" is one of the best of Alfred Hitchcock's pre-Hollywood movies. It contains all of the features that characterized the finest of his British movies, and is (as many others have commented) a film often undeservedly overlooked amongst Hitchcock's large collection of classics.

The actors would all be unfamiliar to most contemporary American viewers, but it is a fine cast that does full justice to a good story, and that responds well to Hitchcock's expert direction. Derrick de Marney is engaging as the unjustly accused hero Robert Tisdall, and his character is balanced nicely by good performances from the rest of the cast (several of whom appeared in more than one of Hitchcock's British movies).

As is often the case with Hitchcock's British pictures, the title is capable of multiple interpretations. At the least, it could refer either to the hero, to the heroine, or to the overall atmosphere and themes of the movie. Young Tisdall is being chased by the law, but we know from the beginning that he is innocent, and his knowledge of that innocence enables him to remain upbeat and even playful despite the dangers and complications he faces. Erica (Nova Pilbeam), his reluctant friend and helper, is innocent in a different sense. In the story she finds her youthful naivete, especially the assumptions she has acquired in growing up as a chief police constable's daughter, challenged by the real world - perhaps for the first time in her life. Pilbeam is not a glamorous heroine (and this may be one of the reasons why "Young and Innocent" is unjustly neglected), but she was a good choice to portray the youthful earnestness and resulting moral dilemmas of her character.

Despite the film's short length, it is filled with classic Hitchcock touches of detail, artistry, and humor, many of which are more low-key than those in his more familiar Hollywood films. It is worth watching several times in order to catch and appreciate all of the details. Three sequences are especially worth noting: (i) the renowned tracking shot at the climax of the film, which is not only a fine technical achievement but also an ideal way to set up the suspenseful conclusion; (ii) the birthday party in the middle, which encapsulates in very subtle ways most of the themes and contrasts of the movie, and (iii) the sequence towards the beginning involving the hero's conference with his lawyer, his court appearance, and his escape, a sequence which is filled with comic details too numerous to catch all at once (including one of the director's most humorous cameos).

Any Hitchcock fan should thoroughly enjoy "Young and Innocent". Beyond that, any fan of thrillers who can look past an unfamiliar cast, and who is willing to look for the subtle touches that characterized the great director's British work, will also find the film a satisfying experience.

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