Review: Young And Innocent (The Girl Was Young, 1937)

Snappy and witty, just the way I like my Hitch!

Screenplay By: Anthony Armstrong, Charles Bennett, & Edwin Greenwood
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

A good coupling can take a film a long way. Nova Pilbeam, as Erica Burgoyne, and Derrick De Marney, as Robert Tisdall make a great pairing. They share just as much banter as they do charming moments. They also share just the right amount of innocence. The character of Robert tries to fast talk his way out of seeming all that innocent. The key word in that sentence is tries, because try as he might he is one innocent bloke. He’s not a murderer and he’s not a guy with a bad bone in his body and we as the audience know that from the start because of the performance from Mr. De Marney.

The chemistry between Miss Pilbeam and Mr. De Marney is present from the get go. Ultimately it is said chemistry that hides the flaws the film contains, makes the good parts great, and the great parts excellent. The chemistry between the two leads is infectious, not just towards the audience but towards their fellow cast members as well. I got the distinct impression that the rest of the cast was feeding off of the two magnanimous leads. As they grew wittier the rest of the cast had to follow suit. As their barbs cut deeper so too did the rest of the cast grow fangs and strike at one another. When the two leads became comfortable with one another the film settled down and the supporting players adopted much more docile personalities.

One great scene, of many, in Young And Innocent is when Erica and Robert are at a party being thrown by Erica’s aunt and uncle. The aunt and the uncle are future images of Erica and Robert. Characters that still love one another, but characters that have had their perspectives and their lives molded by their experiences. Robert and Erica still have to experience much of life, and their innocence in this way is able to greatly affect Erica’s uncle and bring out a more playful side in him. This can also be seen in the character of Old Will. He’s a curmudgeonly sort who after spending some time with the decidedly livelier and more pleasant Erica and Robert has no choice but to follow their lead.

The tone of Young And Innocent is airy and light. Yet at the same time Alfred Hitchcock is able to craft a decent mystery out of the scenario the two leads find themselves in. Young And Innocent is also quite the funny movie, in both the dialogue and physical acting departments. There’s an extended sequence that involves Erica, Robert, Old Will, a dog, and a car that combines all of these elements and is an absolute joy to watch. If I wasn’t busy laughing at the preposterous physicality of Old Will I was marveling at the cave in that brings their car adventure to a dead stop.

Some gosh darn terrible rear screen projection is all that really holds back Young And Innocent. If not for how fake looking said rear screen projection is Young And Innocent would belong right up there with the elite of Sir Hitchcock’s works (trust me, I know that a lot of Sir Hitchcock’s best works have bad rear screen projection, but the rear screen projection used in Young And Innocent is a whole new level of terrible). Young And Innocent is a well acted and a well crafted movie. It’s mysterious, alluring, witty, and charming, and it comes across as breezy in its efforts to be as such. I’d never even heard of Young And Innocent as far as Sir Hitchcock’s best works go, but Young And Innocent is a film that defiitely deserves to be an entry point into that discussion.

Rating:

***1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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One response to “Review: Young And Innocent (The Girl Was Young, 1937)

  1. Pingback: Review: The Skin Game (1931) | Bill's Movie Emporium

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