Thursday 25 February 2010

Young and Innocent

Young and Innocent sounds rather like the title of dodgy movie screened in a back street in Soho, but in fact it is the title of a pre-Hollywood Hitchcock movie, dating from 1937. I was alerted to its quality by comments on this blog some months ago, and now I’ve finally got round to watching it, I can say I agree that it’s a very entertaining film, which has stood the test of time better than many.

From the start, there isn’t much doubt about the identity of the murderer of actress Christine Clay, or the motive, but when her strangled corpse is found by a young man who was friendly with her, the police ignore the obvious suspect (this is never explained) and arrest the young man. The fact she was strangled with the belt of his raincoat is a clinching piece of evidence, although he claims the coat was stolen from him. The hunt for the coat in this film is an early example of a Hitchcockesque pursuit of a Macguffin.

The young man escapes police custody, and is assisted in his flight from justice by the daughter of the chief constable – a part played by a young woman with the marvellous name of Nova Pilbeam. Along the way, the pair bump into a jovial chap played by Basil Radford, soon to earn fame in a real Hitchcock classic, The Lady Vanishes.

The film is allegedly based on Josephine Tey’s book A Shilling for Candles. However, Hitchcock butchered the source material, not for the last time in his career. Inspector Alan Grant, Tey’s series detective, does not even feature in the film – nor, amazingly, does Tey’s murderer. A loose adaptation, then, to put it mildly – but a likeable film nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

Martin - Alfred Hitchock was, without a doubt, one of the finest film directors in the industry's history. I'm so glad you profiled this movie, as it's not one of his better-known films. Admittedly, this one may not be his best, but still, as you say, entertaining.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Everyone has to start somewhere... maybe these mistakes in film caused him to try to improve his craft. Because I always say, I would love to write like Hitchcock directed.


Dorte H said...

A Shilling for Candles? Well, I can recognize the plot now you say so, but I am not sure I would have otherwise.

Keanan Brand said...

I haven't read the original story, but now I'm inspired to go look it up.

I first encountered the movie in a VHS collection of early Hitchcock works that was a gift from my brother and sister-in-law. Since then, I've acquired it on DVD, and watch it every once in a while for the dialogue and the humor. Good fun!