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Young and Innocent
IMDB Rating: 7.0/10 from votes
Release: 17 February 1938 (USA) /

Young and Innocent

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Romance
Director:
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: 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>

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Critic 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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