Young and Innocent (1937)


A young man falsely accused of murder (Derrick De Marney) escapes his hearing and sets out to prove his innocence, dodging the police and falling in love with a blonde young woman (Nova Pilbeam) who helps him against her better judgment. The key to his salvation is finding a stolen raincoat, which kicks off a serendipitous adventure to find a man with an uncontrollably twitchy eyes. If this sounds like an Alfred Hitchcock yarn, that’s because it is.

Young and Innocent (also known as The Girl Was Young) comes relatively early in Hitch’s career, but still contains a lot of his trademarks — including the blonde love interest, the man accused, a seemingly random ‘macguffin’, and a villain identifiable through a quirky behavioral trait. There’s also a healthy dose of Hitchcock’s dark humor sprinkled throughout — most notably when two police officers are forced to ride with pigs in a farmer’s wagon.

Stars De Marney and Pilbeam are engaging enough, fending off a bevy of scene stealing cameos and supporting players — including a near-blind lawyer, a child gas-pump attendant, and an honorable tramp (Edward Rigby) who joins their quest in the final act. Hitchcock, ever the master of well-constructed set-pieces, delivers plenty here — including a night’s hideout at a beautiful abandoned mill, escaping a child’s birthday party, and an exciting mine cave-in sequence.

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