Young and Innocent
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most revered and talented directors in the history of cinema. He made thrillers that haunted the nightmares of millions of moviegoers. Most of us are familiar with his biggest pictures - Psycho, North by Northwest, The Birds - but Hitchcock was making films since the 1920's. One of his earliest was 1937's Young and Innocent.
Robert Tisdale (Derrick DeMarney) has been accused of the murder of a famous actress and friend, Christine Clay. The evidence is not in his favor. He found the body. She was strangled by a raincoat belt and his raincoat is missing. She left a hefty sum of money to him in her will, and he is broke. Most everyone involved with the case feels he is guilty, so Robert decides he must prove his innocence.
During a court proceeding, he escapes and sets out to find his missing raincoat. If he can find the coat, he can prove his innocence. Along the way, he is aided by Erica Burgoyne (Nova Pilbeam), daughter of the chief constable. She thinks he might be innocent and falls in love with Robert.
Will they be able to find the raincoat? Can Robert (unlike O.J.) find the real killer?
Unlike most of Hitchcock's work, this film is a traditional crime drama and love story, rather than a thriller. He incorporates some light-hearted humor along with the mystery and suspense as well as a love story between Erica and Robert.
After a long and successful career, Young and Innocent was one of the last films he made in England. In many of his earlier films, you will see many acclaimed British actors such as DeMarney, but Hitchcock often felt restricted because he did not have the budget and technical resources available to Hollywood directors. In 1939, he finally got the chance to head to Hollywood and never looked back.
Those who rent the film should be aware of its use of actors in blackface. Late in the film, Hitchcock places his characters in a ballroom with a band wearing grease paint. Some of you might remember this makeup being used by Al Jolson in the early part of the century. While we now find this technique reprehensible and unacceptable, it was common practice in the 1930's and 1940's. Many films from the time did not portray African Americans in a positive light, which, unfortunately, reflected the racial problems of the time. However, Hitchcock does not have the actors portray any racial stereotypes and the use of actors in blackface is not for the purpose of denigrating African Americans. While in the past I hesitated to promote movies that used this racist technique, I feel Hitchcock was not trying to promote racism.
Special note to Washington, DC readers: One of Hitchcock's best is back in the theaters. Starting Friday, February 18, you can see Rear Window starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly at the Uptown theater. Check it out if you get a chance.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Written by Charles Bennett, Edwin Greenwood and Anthony Armstrong
Nova Pilbeam Erica Burgoyne
Derrick DeMarney . Robert Tisdale
Percy Marmont .. Col. Burgoyne
Edward Rigby Old Will
John Longden .Detective Inspector Kent
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