Friday, June 14, 2013

#1,033. Young and Innocent (1937)

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

Starring: Nova Pilbeam, Derrick De Marney, Percy Marmont

Tag line: "A romantic murder-mystery drama! "

Trivia: When released in the U.S., the title was changed to The Girl was Young

Released in the U.S. as The Girl Was Young, Alfred Hitchcock's Young and Innocent is the tale of a man wrongly accused of murder who, while trying to avoid the authorities, also attempts to track down the real killer.

The body of Christine Clay (Pamela Carme), who was strangled with a raincoat belt, washes up on shore, and Robert Tisdall (Derrick de Marney), an acquaintance of the deceased, is arrested for her murder. After escaping the police, Robert makes his way to the Cornish countryside, where, with the help of Erica (Nova Pilbeam), the local constable's daughter, he hopes to prove his innocence by finding the man responsible for this heinous crime.

Like many of Hitchcock's films, Young and Innocent features a handful of memorable scenes, some of which were designed to build suspense (like when Robert and Erica, still on the run from the police, are delayed at a children's party), while others generate plenty of thrills, including a tense car chase that leads to near disaster in a coal mine. But the highlight of Young and Innocent is the long, sustained shot late in the movie where Hitchcock reveals the killer's identity. Earlier, a hobo (Edward Rigby), who actually saw the murderer, said he remembered the man had a facial tick. At that, the camera glides into a ballroom where a party's taking place and comes to rest in front of a man who's performing with the band. Thanks to an extreme close-up, we see the man's eyes start to twitch, a clear sign that he's the guilty party. It's a truly remarkable sequence, and the Master of Suspense, even at this early stage of his career, pulled it off brilliantly.

The theme of an innocent man on the run was a particular favorite of Hitchcock's, who had explored a similar story with 1935's The 39 Steps and would return to it again in the years to come, most notably in 1959's North by Northwest. Yet, despite being in familiar territory, Hitchcock brings enough of his unique flair to Young and Innocent to make it worthwhile.

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