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World Film News (1938) - Young and Innocent




Young and Innocent

  • (Alfred Hitchcock—Gaumont British.)
  • Nova Pilbeam, Derrick de Marney.

For the first time in one of his pictures, the crime is secondary to a warm human interest. It's melodrama, but somehow cosy, too. Hitchcock himself blames me for his change of heart. He was pained, it seems, by my comments on his last picture, Sabotage, in which he blew up a schoolboy in a bus, with a time bomb.

If he likes to attribute Young and Innocent to me, he may, and I shall be delighted. For I like it best of all his pictures. It may not be, academically speaking, the cleverest. The adepts who go to a Hitchcock film to grub out bits of montage may be disappointed. Except for a few neat little things, it is not what I should call a tricksy picture. There is no sequence in it so memorable as the knife scene in Blackmail, or the bit with Peter Lorre's death in The Man Who Knew Too Much. But it is exciting, and ingenious enough to satisfy any normally intelligent person, and it has something which I have missed so far from all the brilliant row of Hitchcock's pictures, and that is humanity.

The real charm of the film is its eye for human values. Hitchcock seems to know, with a certainty that has sometimes evaded him, what is important and what is immaterial to a person in certain circumstances, just how far emotion can affect behaviour, just the look or the word or the withdrawal that can send bonnets flying over the windmill.

—C. A. Lejeune, The Sunday Observer

Young and Innocent

One of the many things I like about Alfred Hitchcock's work is its efficient modesty, its lack of strain or over-statement. It is common in films to try to give every picture an air of greatness. Now this is neither possible, truthful, nor desirable. Every time we sit down to read a book we don't expect a classic. We all like magazine stories. And Hitchcock never tries to pretend his short story is a "Gone With the Wind". If you like a film that has a beginning, a middle, and an end, that is shaped like a piece of carving and has the clean economical lines of a sculpture, you will relish every minute of Young and Innocent. Even if you don't care much about such things and just want to be thrilled, amused, stimulated, and always held, you are bound to like it, too.

—Stephen Watts, The Sunday Express

Critical Summary.

A prominent American critic wrote recently that he and many others considered Alfred Hitchcock to be the best living director, and that is a notable compliment indeed. Apart from his wonderful flare for creating and maintaining suspense and his masterful eye for detail, Hitchcock is unique amongst British directors, because he has a genuine understanding of the man in the street — him to whom a famous judge once referred as "the man on the Clapham omnibus". Too many English directors seem never to have travelled on the Clapham omnibus, or, if they have, they are now doing their utmost to forget this unfortunate contact with the proletariat.