Young and Innocent (1937)

Young and Innocent (1937), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

First review

Murder suspect escapes custody and pursues the real killer while on the run from the police. The chief inspector's daughter gives him a lift in her trusty Morris (what model?), later tragically lost in a mine disaster. Well, she's young but he's innocent.

Overshadowed by The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), both films more elaborate and expensive-looking, I would put this comedic romance/thriller next in line for Hitchcock's films from the 1930s. The double chase is his favorite plot.

The movie would be helped by a bit more star power from the young leads, but they are personable enough.

Adapted from a Josephine Tey novel but I recall little resemblance between the book and movie. That is typical of Hitchcock: he would be intrigued by a scene or situation and from that take off in new directions.

A famous scene has a long pan and zoom across a ballroom into an extreme closeup of musician's face. The entire band is in blackface. I know that in the UK jazz bands from that period appeared in blackface, but I'm not sure why. It's not a minstrel show and the musicians are not doing any sort of racial acting. Perhaps it was just a tradition: jazz = American black music = let's dress up.

My DVD is an ancient Laserlight edition and is pretty soft. Keeping track of early Hitchcock on DVD is a huge task; the Hitchcock Wiki is the place to start. Tons of photos and other useful information.

Second review

Sometimes brief images affect you so deeply. In this case a fading glimpse of the English countryside between the wars, when young people were no longer damaged by the previous one, and the looming prospect of another world war could still be ignored.

A time in film when Boys and Girls Own Adventures could be fun and exciting, when the police inspector's daughter could pick up a charming fugitive and -- tooling her trusty crank-started 1923 Morris Cowley Bullnose down narrow but always sunny country lanes -- seek out the real murderer and clear the young man's name.

Aka The Girl Was Young, which is true: Nova Pilbeam was only 18 and still got the above the title credit. She had the child role in Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) just a few years earlier:

We see a train... wait, that's a model train! It goes into a model town, and that's a model car, with model people inside it! Cut to our young people.

From a Josephine Tey novel, but as is often the case, Hitchcock used his own plot. We have the old double-chase, with the police pursuing an innocent man who is after the real killer. And is our young hero just slightly guilty? He knew the victim, not intimately he claims. So why is he in her will?

My thumbnails are from a region B Blu-ray from Network/ITV in the UK. You can see a lot of print damage in the form of vertical streaks, but it is still a decent presentation of the film, a big upgrade over the rather sad DVD versions I had in the past. With English subtitles.