Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Young And Innocent (1937)

Beefing on Hitchcock
Young And Innocent

Alfred Hitchcock's Young And Innocent begins with an argument between an actress and her ex-husband, in which he accuses her of having a relationship with a young man by the name of Robert Tisdall. The next day, Tisdall finds her dead body washed ashore and as he runs to get help, two women arrive and see him running away. The women accuse him of the murder, and Tisdall is arrested, the incriminating evidence being a raincoat belt used in the strangling.

After an encounter with the Chief Constable's daughter, Erica, and a meeting with the half-blind and very incompetent legal aid assigned to his case, Tisdall finds a perfect opportunity to escape and search for proof of his innocence. He hijacks Erica's car, and the two of them begin a search for his missing raincoat, which would prove his innocence if the belt is still attached.

This film has many of the typical cliche Hitchcock movie elements -- the wrong man accused of a crime he didn't commit, a reluctant attractive female who eventually sides with him, a chase over various countryside -- but it still seems to feel absolutely fresh and exciting. The on screen chemistry between the leads feels natural and honest, and the story has an almost perfect refined pace. You almost get the feeling Hitchcock could have just churned these movies out from a machine template, and they'd still all stand out from one another somehow.

The main driving goal of the story here is to find a coat and, hopefully with it, a belt. A typical "macguffin" in that the important story element isn't the coat or belt, but the relationship between the male and female leads. The search for the belt is what brings the two together... It could have been anything really that they went to look for. As long as there's something to drive the romance. Much of the suspense in the film comes from the uncertainty that even the viewer has about if they will find the belt with the coat or not.

Young And Innocent is famous for a specific crane shot, which Alfred has spoken very proudly of in multiple interviews... and while it is technologically and visually incredible, an important thing to notice is that it's used to build a bit of suspense leading up to the reveal of the real murderer. An amazing shot which still has a purpose to relaying the story.

Despite this being another of the public domain films that you can find in any "10 films for 5 bucks" sets in horrendous quality, this might be one of the more important Hitchcock films. I know I've been saying this about most of the more recent films I've viewed, but it really is a damn shame that we don't have an good remaster of this one. This movie is as worthy, if not more, of a blu ray release, as The 39 Steps or the up-coming The Lady Vanishes.

If you own a copy of Young And Innocent but haven't bothered watching it yet, you're missing out. Go watch it.

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