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TIME (14/Feb/1938) - The Girl Was Young

(c) Time (14/Feb/1938)

The Girl Was Young (Gaumont British)

Cinema's top man for melodrama is England's roly-poly, impish-eyed Director Alfred Hitchcock (The 39 Steps, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Secret Agent). Last year, flushed with cinema success and much hearty beef-eating, director Hitchcock decided to try one of his thrillers against the placid background of the English countryside. Said he: "I want to commit murder amid babbling brooks." The result teams 18-year-old Nova Pilbeam and play actor Derrick de Marney in a melodramatic hodge-podge that lacks the vivid outlines and clear characterizations of previous Hitchcock films, but is, nevertheless, a fair sample of Hitchcock devices.

The typical opening shows a bitter quarrel between a woman and a man with nervously twitching eyes in a lonely country house by the sea. In the gray of the next morning, the Hitchcock cameras dwell lingeringly on jutting, misty cliffs, gently rolling seas, while shrill sea gulls insist that something is amiss. The lens finally comes to bear on an object the waves have been gently pushing up on the beach: the body of the woman, strangled to death by a raincoat belt. The audience knows the one distinguishing mark of the killer — those twitching eyes. This much is authentic Hitchcock. Unfortunately, during the tedious process of tracing the raincoat up & down lane and highroad, the audience is permitted to slide back off the edge of its seat.