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  Young and Innocent Runaway Boy
Year: 1937
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Nova Pilbeam, Derrick de Marney, Percy Marmont, Edward Rigby, Mary Clare, John Longdon, George Curzon, Basil Radford, Pamela Carme, George Merritt, J.H. Roberts, Jerry Verno, H.F. Maltby, John Miller
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A film star is engaging in a heated row with her husband, and he accuses her of cheating on him as their voices grow louder. He rushes outside into the night, plotting as the storm rages overhead. The next day Robert Tisdale (Derrick De Marney), who happens to be one of the star's boyfriends, is walking by the beach when he notices a body in the surf and so he hurries down to investigate. To his horror, he recognises the star, now strangled, and runs off to fetch help but he is spotted by two girls who are nearby. They say he was running away for fear of being caught, and now Robert is in deep trouble...

If Young and Innocent seemed familiar even in 1937, it was because it was another of its director Alfred Hitchcock's innocent man on the run movies, not unlike his previous thriller The 39 Steps. But here his lightness of touch with the material translated into a breezy suspense that felt less than it should be taken seriously and more that it was a fun romp as its hero avoids the law. Robert is arrested, but realising he is in an inextricable situation if he cannot locate his stolen raincoat - and more importantly the belt that went with it, a belt that is now the murder weapon - he decides to make a run for it.

And run he does, after a less than encouraging conversation with the lawyer (J.H. Roberts) he has been assigned, one of many character bits that add colour to the film. Indeed, the character actors have more to indulge themselves with than the two leads, for there are two, as Robert is joined by the daughter of the Chief Constable, Erica (Nova Pilbeam in her most famous role). Erica unwittingly gives Robert a lift out of the town and into the countryside so by the time he makes his presence felt she has no choice but to assist him in his flight.

Robert hides in an old mill and Erica returns home, keeping mum about her exciting meeting yet she can't get him out of her head. As well as a thriller, this is a story of a young woman finding her way to independence after being under the thumb of her family for all her days, and Pilbeam brings the role to winning life even if she is overshadowed by the twists of the plotting, as the bright De Marney tends to be. So Erica goes back to the mill to give Robert food, and in doing so she is almost immediately in over her head with his tribulations.

That said, Robert manages to keep his spirits up no matter that every copper in the country is out to get him. As with many Hitchchocks, the law is to be feared almost as much as the lawbreakers, although a lot of them here are good natured bunglers - more character stuff. Speaking of which, Robert catches up with the chap who stole his raincoat, namely china mender Old Will (Edward Rigby), but it turns out maybe he didn't steal it after all... he was given it. The manner in which the killer is revealed is rightly admired, an elaborate camera move by a director already a master of his craft, yet not in a dry way because Young and Innocent is, a gloomy interlude when all seems lost apart, fast paced adventure all the way.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Alfred Hitchcock  (1899 - 1980)

Hugely influential British director, renowned as "The Master of Suspense" for his way with thrillers. His first recognisably Hitchcockian film was The Lodger, but it was only until Blackmail (the first British sound film) that he found his calling. His other 1930s films included a few classics: Number Seventeen, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, Secret Agent, Sabotage, The Lady Vanishes, Young and Innocent and Jamaica Inn.

Producer David O. Selznick gave Hitchcock his break in Hollywood directing Rebecca, and he never looked back. In the forties were Suspicion, thinly veiled propaganda Foreign Correspondent, the single set Lifeboat, Saboteur, Notorious, Spellbound (with the Salvador Dali dream sequence), Shadow of a Doubt (his personal favourite) and technician's nightmare Rope.

In the fifties were darkly amusing Strangers on a Train, I Confess, Dial M for Murder (in 3-D), rare comedy The Trouble with Harry, Rear Window, a remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Thief, the uncharacteristic in style The Wrong Man, the sickly Vertigo, and his quintessential chase movie, North By Northwest. He also had a successful television series around this time, which he introduced, making his distinctive face and voice as recognisable as his name.

The sixties started strongly with groundbreaking horror Psycho, and The Birds was just as successful, but then Hitchcock went into decline with uninspired thrillers like Marnie, Torn Curtain and Topaz. The seventies saw a return to form with Frenzy, but his last film Family Plot was disappointing. Still, a great career, and his mixture of romance, black comedy, thrills and elaborate set pieces will always entertain. Watch out for his cameo appearances in most of his films.

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