Saturday, July 19, 2014

Young and Innocent

Young and Innocent; crime/ thriller, UK, 1937; D: Alfred Hitchcock, S: Derrick De Marney, Nova Pilbeam, Percy Marmont

A successful actress, Christine, is found dead at the beach by one of her younger friends, Robert. He runs away to get help, but two witnesses see him and suspect he is running away because he killed her. Likewise, a belt is found near Christine, and Robert is detained by the police, even though he claims that his raincoat, which included the controversial belt, has been stolen. Robert flees in order to find the real killer, and is joined by Erica, the daughter of the Chief of police. In the countryside, they discover Will, a bum who has Robert's raincoat, and then go on to trace the man who gave it to him - they find him in the Grand Hotel, disguising as a musician, and it is Christine's jealous ex-husband.

"Young and Innocent" seems to be a weaker version and restructuring of Alfred Hitchcock's own classic film that brought him fame a few years before that, "The 39 Steps", even though it roughly follows the director's often theme of a man wrongfully accused of a murder who decides to flee and find the killer himself, because it gives the impression as if the 'master of suspense' was still practising before giving a true punch in his later thrillers. It is a light 'whodunit' mystery crime that suffers from a few naive elements typical for that time period, including the too simplistic resolution at the end, which give a more relaxed narrative than expected, but Hitchcock still managed to show a few accumulated examples of inspiration, such as the comical sequence in which the accused, Robert, escapes from the trial by hiding among the audience in the court (!) or the most virtuoso scene in the entire film, the one in which the camera pans across the Grand Hotel, gives an overview of the guests dancing in the hall, and then, after passing over 50 yards, comes very close to a crucial character playing the drums. More of such humor and more of such virtuosos touches would have been welcomed in order to give the story a tighter grip, even though it is an overall a successful and unassuming little film, which is not a highlight among Hitchcock's opus, but represents a step closer to achieving those highlights.


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