Hitch on the Hump: Freddie Young (and Innocent?) of Full Moon Reviews Guests!
I would first like to thank TL Bugg for requesting my services for this month's Hitch On The Hump. It's truly an honor to have the opportunity to discuss the work of one of the Masters of Cinema - Alfred Hitchcock. From the moment I was asked to contribute, I wanted to discuss a Hitchcock work that probably not many people have talked about or even used as a basis for Hitch On The Hump. I mean, how many times can one read about Psycho? Or Rear Window? Or Vertigo? Or The Birds? I think you get my point.
So I looked into Alfred Hitchock's filmography to find this month's subject. And to my surprise [and thanks to Netflix Instant Watch], I found a Hitchcock film that I have never heard of or read anyone discuss. And that film is 1938's Young and Innocent - or The Girl Was Young in the United States.
Young and Innocent is one of Hitchcock's British films, showcasing the director's trademarks long before his American films. The film begins with a couple arguing - Christine (Pamela Carme), who happens to be a famous actress, and her lover Guy (George Curzon), who accuses Christine of cheating on him with random "boys". The next morning on a nearby beach, a young man named Robert Tisdall (Derrick De Marney) strolls along and finds Christine's corpse washed up on the shore. The only evidence is a belt from a stolen raincoat that belonged to Robert. Running off to find help, two female witnesses arrive finding not only the body, but assuming that Robert is the guilty party. When the police arrive, the girls accuse Robert of murder. He's arrested and quickly put on trial.
Young and Innocent is based on a Josephine Tey novel titled "A Shilling For Candles". Tey's novel, published in 1936, was her first mystery novel with Inspector Alan Grant, who would be her main character over a 25 year span. Like the film adaptation, the story of "A Shilling For Candles" involves a murdered actress, whose young friend named Robert Tisdall is considered the prime suspect for her murder. The rest of the story involves Alan Grant trying to solve the case as Robert escapes with Erica, who believes in his innocence.
The 39 Steps, North By Northwest, and Vertigo. Both Robert and Erica happen to meet at chance, which links them together for the rest of the film in order the solve the case. Also in the film, the killer is given a specific trait [eyes that twitch] to make him easy to spot. This is similar to The 39 Steps again, where the villain is missing one of his fingers. This trait is not in the novel at all. Also Robert's backstory is different. In the novel, Robert is a young unemployed man. In the film, he has a higher social status and is wittier and more charming than his book counterpart.
Another moment is a great crane shot in the final act of the film inside the Grand Hotel. There seems to be some sort of gathering or event at the Grand Hotel, involving a group of musicians dressed in blackface as Old Will and Erica search for the killer [who happens to be at this event]. It takes its time really setting up the location of where the mystery would be revealed, ending on a close up on the killer and his twitching eyes. The same technique was used similarly in Notorious during that film's party scene. It's just done so well and it's easy to see why Hitchcock would use it more than once.
Frenzy, etc. Young and Innocent is a showcase on things Hitchcock would continue to add to his movies years later.
I think to ignore Young and Innocent is a shame if you're any kind of an Alfred Hitchcock fan. It's not a classic like his other films, but considering the low-budget he had to deal with many of his British films, the film is put together quite nicely. I believe this lesser-seen film was a blueprint for the great stuff he would put out in later years, which makes Young and Innocent more than worthy of a watch.
I can't thank Freddie Young a.k.a Fred the Wolf for stopping by and dropping the knowledge on The Young and Innocent. Makes sure you stop over at Full Moon Reviews and check out more of Fred's great work! If you'd like to take part in Hitch on the Hump, then drop me a line at thelightningbug (AT) charter.net and we'll set you up!