Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Young and Innocent”

Young and Innocent (1937) is a British crime thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Nova Pilbeam and Derrick De Marney. Alma Reville (Mrs. Hitchcock) was in charge of the film’s continuity. The movie is based on the 1936 novel A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey.

A young man named Robert Tisdall (De Marney), while walking along the seaside discovers the body of a famous actress washed ashore. While he runs to get help, he is spotted by two young women who assume he might have something to do with the actress’s death. 

He is grilled by Scottland Yard detectives all night to the point of exhaustion. In the morning, he faints but is revived with the help of Erica Burgoyne (Pilbeam), daughter of the local police chief. Through a strange course of events, Tisdall convinces Erica to help escape until he can prove his innocence.

Will the two be successful in proving Tisdall’s innocence or will he be wrongly convicted of murder?

The film was released as The Girl was Young in the United States.

Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980) was an English film director, producer, and screenwriter. He is one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century. Hitchcock directed over 50 feature films, many are classics that have been honored and studied for years. Some of Hitchcock’s classic films include The 39 Steps (1939), Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Notorious (1946), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960).

Nova Pilbeam (1919 - 2015) was an English film and stage actress. She was in two Hitchcock films in the 1930s. In The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), she played a girl abducted by Peter Lorre’s character. David O. Selznick wanted Pilbeam for the lead in Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940). Pilbeam’s agent was reluctant to have his client sign a long-term contract with Selznick. She never made a film in America, although she did spend a month in America with the head of Gaumont-British Studios. 

Derrick De Marney (1906 - 1978) was an English stage and film actor and producer. Young and Innocent remains his most famous film role, although he starred in other English films, including Uncle Silas (1947) where he played the guardian to a young heiress played by Jean Simmons. De Marney also produced films including The Gentle Sex (1943) starring Leslie Howard.

Young and Innocent trivia
  • Nova Pilbeam married Pen Tennyson (great-grandson of Alfred, Lord Tennyson), an assistant director to Alfred Hitchcock on the film.
  • Pilbeam was only 17 years old when she made this film. Her co-star Derrick De Marney was 31.
  • Pilbeam regarded Young and Innocent as “the sunniest film I was involved with.”

Why watch this film?
  • It’s an early example of the “wrong man” being pursued for a crime he did not commit scenario. This would be a theme that Hitchcock would return to time and again.
  • The earliest Hitchcock films give you a glimpse into the director’s creative genius and technological innovation.
  • You get to see the themes and techniques that Hitchcock would expand upon once he arrived in Hollywood.

To watch the film on YouTube, click the link below.

To join the discussion on November 22, 2021, at 6:30 p.m., click here. Once you RSVP, you will receive an email invitation along with a link to the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions:
Does this remind you of any other Hitchcock films?
What did you think of the lead performances?
Did you see some themes that would crop up in future Hitchcock films?
Was anything surprising to you?

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