Young and Innocent
|Young and Innocent|
|Directed by||Alfred Hitchcock|
|Produced by||Edward Black|
|Based on||A Shilling for Candles
by Josephine Tey
|Edited by||Charles Frend|
Young and Innocent (American title: The Girl Was Young) is a 1937 British crime thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Nova Pilbeam and Derrick De Marney. Based on the 1936 novel A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey, the film is about a young man on the run from a murder charge who enlists the help of a woman who must put herself at risk for his cause. It is notable for an elaborately staged crane shot Hitchcock devised towards the end of the film, which identifies the real murderer.
At a retreat on the English coast, Christine Clay (Pamela Carme), a successful actress, argues passionately with her jealous ex-husband Guy (George Curzon). Not accepting her Reno divorce as valid, he accuses her of having an affair. His face twitches violently around his eyes as they argue. Finally he leaves.
The next morning, Robert Tisdall (Derrick De Marney) happens to be walking along the seaside when Christine's dead body washes ashore. Tisdall recognizes her, and runs for help. Two young women arrive just in time to see him racing away from the corpse. The police quickly decide that he is the only suspect. Christine was strangled with the belt from a raincoat; Tisdall's raincoat is missing and he says it was recently stolen. He admits knowing the victim from three years ago when he sold her a story, but they assume the two have been having an affair. When they learn that she left him money in her will (unknown to him), Tisdall is arrested.
Tisdall is grilled all night by Scotland Yard detectives until he faints. He is revived by the aid of Erica Burgoyne (Nova Pilbeam), daughter of the local police Chief Constable. Tisdall is assigned an incompetent barrister, and is taken into court for his formal arraignment. Doubting if his innocence will ever be established, he takes advantage of overcrowding in the courthouse to escape, wearing the barrister's eyeglasses as a disguise. He gets away by riding on the running board of Erica's Morris car, revealing himself to her after the car runs out of petrol.
He helps push the car to a filling station and pays for petrol, and convinces her to give him a ride. Though she was initially fearful and unsure about her passenger, Erica eventually becomes convinced of his innocence and elects to help him in any way that she can. They are eventually spotted together, forcing both to stay on the run from the police. Tisdall tries to prove his innocence by tracking down the stolen coat: if it still has its belt, the one found next to Christine's body must not be his.
The duo succeed in finding Old Will (Edward Rigby), a sociable china-mender and homeless man who has Tisdall's coat. But Will was not the thief; he was given the coat by a man with twitchy eyes. And when Will received the coat, its belt was missing.
Separated from the group, Erica is taken in by the police. Upon realizing that his daughter has fully allied herself with a murder suspect (in fact, they are in love), her father chooses to resign his position as Chief Constable rather than arrest her for assisting him. Tisdall sneaks into their house to see her, intending to surrender next, but she mentions that the coat had a box of matches from the Grand Hotel in a pocket. Tisdall has never been there: perhaps the murderer has a connection to the hotel.
Erica and Will go to the Grand Hotel together, hoping to find him. In a memorably long, continuous sequence, the camera pans right from their entrance to the hotel and then moves forward from the very back of the hotel ballroom, finally focusing in extreme closeup on the drummer in a dance band performing in blackface. His face is twitching around the eyes. He is Guy.
Recognizing Old Will in the audience, and seeing policemen nearby (actually they have followed Will in the hopes of finding Tisdall), Guy performs poorly due to fear. He takes medicine to try to control the twitching, but it makes him very sleepy, and he is berated by the conductor. Eventually, Guy faints in mid-performance, drawing the attention of Erica and the police. Immediately after being revived and confronted, he confesses his crime and begins laughing hysterically.
Erica then tells her father that she thinks it is time they invited Tisdall to their home for dinner.
- Nova Pilbeam as Erica Burgoyne
- Derrick De Marney as Robert Tisdall
- Percy Marmont as Colonel Burgoyne
- Edward Rigby as Old Will
- Mary Clare as Erica's aunt Margaret
- John Longden as Inspector Kent
- George Curzon as Guy
- Basil Radford as Erica's uncle Basil
- Pamela Carme as Christine Clay
- George Merritt as Detective Sergeant Miller
- J. H. Roberts as the Solicitor, Henry Briggs
- Jerry Verno as Lorry Driver
- H. F. Maltby as Police Sergeant
- John Miller as Police Constable
- Syd Crossley as Policeman
- Torin Thatcher as the owner of Nobby's Lodging House
- Anna Konstam as Bathing Girl (uncredited)
- Bill Shine as Manager of Tom's Hat Cafe (uncredited)
- Beatrice Varley as Accused Man's Wife (uncredited)
- Peter Thompson as Erica Burgoyne's bespectacled brother (uncredited)
Changes from the novel
Significant changes were made in adapting the book for the film. The novel is a whodunit centred on the Scotland Yard inspector, who is Tey's regular character Alan Grant. The storyline involving Robert Tisdall, Erica Burgoyne, and the missing coat is similar to the film story, but in the novel it is only a subplot and ends part way through the book when Erica finds the coat and it is intact. Grant then focuses on other suspects, none of whom (including the actual murderer in the novel) appear in the film. Christine Clay in the novel is not divorced, but is in an unconventional marriage to an aristocrat.
Alfred Hitchcock's cameo is a signature occurrence in most of his films. He can be seen outside the courthouse, holding a camera, at 14 minutes into the film.
References in popular culture
On the Mike Oldfield album Five Miles Out, on the track "Orabidoo", at 9'12" there can be heard a sample of the conductor criticising the drummer: "Don't come in again like that. It isn't funny and I pay someone else to make the orchestrations!"
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