A man on the run, who teamed with a reluctant blond trys to clear his name is a recurring theme in Hitchcock movies like The 39 Steps, North by North West and the second of Network’s classic British Hitchcock reissues Young and Innocent.
Derrick de Marney plays Robert Tisdall, a writer accused of strangling an actress with the belt similar to the one from his raincoat. A raincoat he that he tells the investigating police officer was stolen from him at a truck stop. Lifting his useless brief’s spectacles Tisdall gives the cops the slip at the courthouse and persuades chief contable’s daughter Erica (Nova Pilbeam) to give him a lift in her car.
Throwing in her lot with Tisdall the couple visit the truck stop where the coat was stolen and hear that the coat is now in the possession of Old Will the tramp. Old Will has the coat alright, but the belt is missing. However there’s a clue in one of the coat pockets that may lead Tisdall, Erica and Old Will to the real killer.
This movie is noted for the elaborately staged crane shot at its conclusion, where the camera passes over a ballroom floor packed with dancers and then zooms tight into a detail that identifies the killer. This is worth the price of the Blu-ray reissue on its own. Other things to watch out for are: the shots of seabirds when the body is washed up on the beach, which are rather prescient of those from The Birds and Hitchcock’s cameo as a local newspaper photographer. There’s also a typical Hitchcock gag in Old Will’s profession of a china mender – one of Hitch’s on set rituals was to drink a cup of tea and then throw the cup away, frequently smashing it into pieces.
The two leads are excellent. De Marney is delightfully laconic in the delivery of his lines, while Nova Pilbeam (who also played the kidnapped child Betty in The Man who Knew Too Much) is quite remarkable as the self assured confident modern 1930’s young woman, especially considering that she was just seventeen years old when she made the film.
A darkly funny, but tense thriller with an epic set piece conclusion I give Young and Innocent a 555/666
Young and Innocent is released on Blu-Ray on 19 January by Network as part of The British film series. Price £14.99
Introduction by film historian Charles Barr
Hitchcock The Early Years – a 25 minute documentary about his pre-war British films