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"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
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.
A truly charming film from the Master of Suspense. Being a rather huge
Hitch fan, I recently sought out some lesser known films from his early
period. Of those I viewed ("Number 17," & "Murder!" among others) this
one was my favorite--among the best of his Pre-Hollywood films. There
is the usual mixture of humor and suspense, some nice camera work
(including a wonderful precursor to the "key-in-hand" shot of
"Notorious"), and most importantly, Nova Pilbeam. I'm not sure how this
actress managed to play her scenes SO appealingly, and yet managed to
have fallen SO completely off the acting radar. How many people today
have her name rattling about their cerebral attic? Virtually none, I'd
hazard, and yet she is terrific here--worth the effort of finding the
video for her performance alone.
This film certainly is not in the same league as Hitch's best, but still is vastly superior to the average suspense film coming out of Hollywood today--or any other day, for that matter.
I hold with what seems to be the majority opinion here, i.e. that this early
Hitchcock effort is a neglected gem. Though certainly not as well-done as
some of his more noteworthy movies, I found it to be thoroughly captivating
and entertaining, with the blend of suspense and humor that one finds in,
say, "To Catch a Thief" or "Family Plot". Derrick deMarney as the romantic
lead does a particularly fine job; sort of a foreshadowing of the kind of
thing Cary Grant later did so well.
One thought is that the title is perhaps a bit of a double entendre; we always associate the phrase "Young and Innocent" with a female, but the story is really about the attempt of the lead character - a young man - to prove his innocence. Then again, is he really the lead, or is the story about the girl after all? I'm sure Hitch intended this touch of ambiguity.
Once again I have to thank American Movie Classics for bringing us another worthy movie from the past. Hitchcock fans should not miss this one (come to think of it, the only dog that I have seen from Hitch is "The Paradine Case").
Hitchcock is in a class by himself. I'll give any of his films multiple viewings. The story and structure of "Young and Innocent" resemble "The 39 Steps," with a young woman helping a young man on the run thwart the police and prove his innocence. This film is a standout, though, not because of the story or acting (both charming), but because of a virtuoso bit of directing by the Master, in which the location of the killer is revealed. As I watched the scene unfold for the first time, I remember thinking, "This is what makes Hitchcock Hitchcock." I wish I had never seen any Hitchcock films so I could watch them all again for the first time. His is a brilliant body of work, and this is an often overlooked example of his mastery of the film art.
Sort of a blueprint for any number of later, more bloated Hitchcocks: The man falsely accused of murder; the sympathetic miss who helps him, the set pieces in creepy places. This one has a lighter, more picaresque feel than most of the Master's movies, with irrelevant but diverting supporting characters, Maguffins, an unstarry cast, and an unusual dollop of humor. It's also blessed by a screenplay that leaps nimbly from improbability to improbability, as much as its more famous contemporaries, like "The 39 Steps" or "The Lady Vanishes."
The light tone throughout tips us off that everything's going to turn out all right, so there's less suspense than we associate with Hitchcock. Still, it's beautifully photographed (with one really stunning crane shot), beautifully paced, and enjoyably acted. The unstoried Nova Pilbeam is a standout: She's the ideal Hitchcock heroine, blonde, slender, and spirited.
I have always been partial to Hitchcock's British films (Murder,
Blackmail, 39 Steps, et al) and I consider this one another star in the
crown. Granted, it may not be as sophisticated as his later films but
few films from the 30's are. It has a certain charm and suspense that
will hold your interest.
This film is filled with Hitchcock's cadre of actors that he used again and again in his early films.....and what a group they are! Nova Pilbeam (The Man Who Knew Too Much) was a rather strange looking girl but is perfect for the part of the young woman who helps a stranger; Percy Marmont (Secret Agent) as her father; Mary Clare and Basil Radford (The Lady Vanishes) as the aunt and uncle; John Longden (Blackmail) in his usual role as the detective......all these players are top drawer. Derrick de Marney is rather effete as the man on the run but is very effective in the part.
Several scenes are particularly outstanding. The opening beach shots are beautifully done and the chase is on! You hold your breath in the sinking car scene even though you know that Miss Pilbeam won't be lost so early in the story, unlike Janet Leigh in Psycho. But of course, the long tracking shot in the hotel as it zooms in on the drummer man is the one that most people remember and talk about. It's dynamite.
The rural setting is delightful and Hitchcock seldom used that slice of life in his films (with the exception of The Manxman). That may be what gives the film it's more easy going pace, it's more casual feel. Regardless, Young and Innocent (which is a rather awkward title), holds up after 66 years as just another example of the artistry of the Master. Enjoy it....it's worth it.
In this near classic from director Alfred Hitchcock, a police detective's daughter and a writer get tangled up in a murder case, and the chase is on! While they are being pursued by the authorities, they themselves are searching for clues that might prove the writer is innocent. Nice Hitchcock touches elevate this film above your usual mystery romance. Nova Pilbeam and Derek DeMarney deliver charismatic performances as the two leads in the film. As usual, Hitchcock has paid careful attention to detail, continuity and pacing of the story, and the result is still entertaining decades later. This is a film which has aged rather well. There are so many delightful scenes in this movie that it is hard to pick a favorite. This film reveals all of the signs of genius that Hitchcock would continue to display for many years after this 1937 outing. "Young and Innocent" is said to be one of Hitchcock's personal favorites from the films that he made in Great Britain before his "Hollywood" era began. In my estimation, "Young and Innocent" is just a hair's width from being as good as the other two early directorial triumphs made by him in his British era which are considered classics: "The Thirty Nine Steps" and "The Lady Vanishes." For Hitchock fans, this is one of his must see films. 86/100.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The argument is always going to pursue Hitchcock's students and fans.
Were the films he made in England from 1934 to 1939 his best films
(specifically THE 39 STEPS and THE LADY VANISHES) or were the films he
made in Hollywood from STRANGERS ON A TRAIN through THE BIRDS his
masterworks. I think most Americans favor the latter group, and
Englishmen favor the former. Certainly he had huge budgets to play with
in the 1940s to 1970s, whereas his budgets in England were terribly
puny. But his basic themes got developed in his English films, and he
managed to achieve some great effects on those puny budgets.
YOUNG AND INNOCENT is probably frequently confused with RICH AND STRANGE, a really weird film Hitch made about four years earlier. That was about how a marriage survives an inheritance and trip around the world. This one deals with a mystery by Josephine Tey. In the 1930s to 1960s Ms Tey was the equal as a British mystery novelist of Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, and Dorothy Sayers. This is based on A SHILLING FOR CANDLES, but most people who remember Ms Tey recall her for two novels based on historical mysteries. One, reset in modern times, is THE FRANCHISE AFFAIR (based on the 1753 mystery of the disappearance and reappearance of Elizabeth Canning in London - a case that literally split English society as equal numbers of witnesses placed her either in a farmhouse as a prisoner, while others insisted she was living with a lover). The second (and better recalled) is THE DAUGHTER OF TIME, which tackles the question of the guilt of King Richard III in the various crimes ascribed to him by Sir Thomas More and William Shakespeare - including the murder of his two nephews. Tey's usual hero, Inspector Adam Grant, concludes history lies (the victors determine what is "true") and Richard is innocent. Although it's research value is dated in 2005, it is still a good place to start looking over Richard's reputation and case.
Here the hero (Derrick De Marney) is suspected (rather flimsily, actually) of having killed a young woman on a beach. He after all helped discover the body. From the beginning we are aware of another person who is more likely to be the killer, but after a sinister opening we don't see him again.
De Marney flees, and his path leads him into that of Nova Pilbeam. She was an up and coming performer of that period in England, appearing as the kidnap victim in the original THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH in 1934, and then as the ill-fated Lady Jane Gray in TUDOR ROSE in 1936. Here she is the daughter of the local police head (Percy Marmont - he had been an accidental murder victim of Peter Lorre's in 1936's THE SECRET AGENT). She is convinced of De Marney's innocence, and keeps helping him flee (including a comic interlude at the home of her uncle, Basil Radford, during a birthday party. They keep looking up potentially innocent-proving evidence, and find one more ally: Edward Rigby as a helplessly entangled hobo named Will.
And they do find the killer (as does Marmont and his police) in the conclusion, when they track him down to the drummer man - in the first really memorable use of a tracking shot by Hitch. He would next use it again in NOTORIOUS in the party scene. The man is in black face (a racist element that was acceptable in 1937 unfortunately), but we know the key to his identity - his twitching eyes (possibly nervousness, but also possibly by drugs). His eyes do twitch for the audience before they do for the others. And his nerves suffer the torments of the damned when he sees the police in the room and De Marney. Then he goes into a really wild drumming turn (which his boss acidly comments on afterward) - it is like a wild animal at bay, symbolically.
It is not THE LADY VANISHES or THE 39 STEPS, but it an effective film for all that. Definitely worth watching.
This is a good Hitchcock film, but on the lighter side. The acting may be disputed (certainly many dispute about it!), but in my opinion it is a very solid, entertaining, and well-acted picture. It does have much of Hitchcock about it (not surprisingly) and is well worth watching. All of the classic Hitchcock elements are there, and they fit together wonderfully: the musical score, the camera work, the twists and turns in the plot, the thrilling scenes, the build-up, the director himself ... and not to forget the story! This is built up very carefully, and contains many, many interesting side-glances and elements. But one needs to watch the film very carefully, or more than once, in order to find these. It is indeed a sort of '39 Steps', and a precursor to several later Hitchcock films, but in its own way it occupies a place rather different than any other Hitchcock film. I am referring to a certain 'bucolic' atmosphere, which is perhaps only equalled by 'The Trouble With Harry'. The parallels to this film have perhaps not yet been adequately explored.
I believe that this movie is very underrated Hitchcock. Young and
Innocent is about another seemingly docile situation that blows up in a
young man's face. While wandering the beach, he comes across the dead
body of a woman he knew (we saw the brief fight the woman had with her
husband at the very beginning of the movie). As he runs to go get help,
two ladies think he is running away from the body. As his trial
proceeds, he is able to duck out and go on the lam with the daughter of
the chief of police. With her help, they go to prove his innocence.
One can't help but feel for the young couple as they go on their adventure. Mainly, Hitchcock really works the camera on this one. There is one scene in particular, a great panoramic shot that comes to focus on a single pair of eyes, those twitching eyes from the very beginning of the movie.
Maybe it is because it doesn't have a big name or didn't have any real "jump out and get you" moments that it is forgotten. It is worth a look and I recommend seeing it, especially if you like old movies.
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