After the body of a popular stage actress is found washed up on a beach on the English coast, Robert Tisdall (Derrick De Marney) finds himself the prime suspect in her murder. Escaping from the local court house in a clapped-out Morris driven by the police chief’s daughter Erica (Nova Pilbeam), Robert convinces the pretty blonde of his innocence and together the couple set out to find a vital piece of evidence that will clear his name…
A ROMANTIC MURDER-MYSTERY DRAMA!
Adpated from Josephine Tey’s 1936 novel A Shilling for Candles, this small-scale British thriller, made at the then newly-opened Pinewood Studios, was said to be one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favourites among his British films that he made before his big move to Hollywood.
Although dated in its attitudes (very cosy English home counties), and possessing a creaky script (the dialogue is courtesy of playwright Gerald Savory, while the story was written by Charles Bennett) and low budget production design (there’s lots of back screen projection and models and miniatures used), Hitchcock’s inventiveness peeks through. In particular, a scene involving the old Morris (a character in itself) being swallowed up by a sink hole in a mine shaft and a crane shot across a packed dance floor which ends in a close up of the killer (something Hitchcock would go onto perfect in 1946’s Notorious).
Interestingly, Wimbledon-born actress Nova Pilbeam was just 17 when she was signed on to star in this thriller, having already appeared in the director’s The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1934. Although considered for both Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1937) and Rebecca (1940), Pilbeam lost out on both counts, but continued to make films until 1948’s The Three Weird Sisters, when she left acting altogether at the ripe old age of 30.
Derrick de Marney, meanwhile, is best known to film fans for his memorable portrayal of Uncle Silas in the 1947 British drama based on J Sheridan Le Fanu’s supernatural tale. His last film role was in the rarely-seen 1967 sci-fi The Projected Man.
Hitchcock also makes one of his legendary cameos 14-minutes into the film as a photographer outside a courthouse.
THE UK BLU-RAY RELEASE
Young and Innocent is available in the UK on Blu-ray as part of Network Distributing’s The British Film collection, and is presented in a High Definition transfer from original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio. There are no notes about the restoration included with this release. The special features include an introduction from film historian Charles Barr and the 25-minute documentary Hitchcock: The Early Years, which also appeared on Network’s 2008 DVD release.
• Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1930s features The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The Lady Vanishes (1938) are also available on Blu-ray from Network Distributing from 19 January. Click on the links for more information.