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BFI Monthly Film Bulletin (Nov/1937) - Young and Innocent

(c) BFI Monthly Film Bulletin (Nov/1937 - Volume 4, Number 47)

Young and Innocent (1937)

Romantic murder mystery drama, telling of the efforts of a young man to prove himself innocent of a charge - based on circumstantial evidence - of murdering a film star. The opening scene shows a violent quarrel between Christine Clay, a film star, and her husband. The next morning Christine's body is found on the sea-shore. She has been strangled with the belt of a man's raincoat. A young man - Robert Tisdall - is seen running away. Questioned by the police he admits that he knew Christine, and declares that his raincoat, which is missing, had been stolen at a carmen's pull-up. He faints during a prolonged cross-examination, and is brought round by Erica Burgoyne, the Chief Constable's daughter, who has been a Girl Guide and who is used to looking after a tribe of younger brothers. Robert escapes from the Court, his whole mind bent on finding his raincoat. He meets Erica, and half convinces her of his innocence. Together, in her ancient car, they set out in search of the coat. After many adventures they find a tramp, Old Bill, to whom the coat has been given. He has it - but the belt is missing. Old Bill thinks he would recognise the man who gave it to him. A clue leads him and Erica to a hotel, and there, in a tense climax, the real murderer is discovered.

One of the great charms of this consistently holding picture is that it deals with normal everyday people living a normal everyday life in a typically English country setting. There are no superfluous characters; each one fits into his or her appointed place, and contributes to the total effect. Innumerable small touches show Hitchcock's keen and penetrating observation and his knowledge of human nature. Comedy, romance, and thrills are skilfully blended. The romance between the two young people develops simply and naturally, and without a trace of sentimentality. Nova Pilbeam gives an excellent performance. She is charming, sincere and unaffected, half-child, half-woman with a sense of humour and some dignity, and Derrick de Marney supports her adequately. Brilliant work is put in by the supporting players. Edward Rigby's Old Bill is a little gem of character acting, and Percy Marmont is exactly right as Erica's father, emphasising the delightful relations which can exist between father and growing-up daughter. The very varied settings are all admirable. Outstandingly good photography makes the English country scene a joy to the eye, while the old mill, the County Court, a common lodging house, and the Chief Constable's home are effectively portrayed.