Young And Innocent (1937)
Genre: Crime Drama Thriller (UK)
Starring: Nova Pilbeam (The Man Who Knew Too Much), Derrick De Marney (Things To Come)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Downhill; Under Capricorn)
Acting: Every Hitchcock film I see, I realize more and more than Hitch does the best he can with what he gets. I don't know who was responsible for his casting, but for as much as the players are well-placed and well-rehearsed, there's just always something missing from making their performances grand in my scale (literally). Again we have some well-meaning actors directed just right, but I wouldn't say that Young And Innocent got the casting it deserved.
Cinematography: I can't say I liked the scenes with little models instead of crane shots, or those scenes where people ran towards a projection screen, like something out of the 80s. It's the price of watching film of the thirties I guess, but Hitch didn't leave us with much eye candy besides that. Filmed ever so simply, we have a straight-told tale sans high-art, except for the dramatic scene at the end.
Script: I don't recall anything spectacular in this realm either. Sometimes films resonate with deep characterization or poetic displays, or staccato escalations of emotion. This was just a man claiming his innocence and a woman trying to help him. If you watched this on mute, you'd know what's going on. I can't say I'm moved by that sort of film... call me a poet.
Plot: As I watched I knew this would become a predictable tale of an innocent man trying to clear his name, all while falling in love with the woman he must alternately trust and perhaps even intimidate. I didn't think it would be more than a rote film telling a dramatic yet oft-told tale. Image my surprise when everything changes at the end, with one of Hitchcock's best set ups and endings I've seen yet. I very much enjoyed seeing a character who can't conceal his guilt very well.
Mood: The entrancement of this film was compromised by several factors. A band in blackface still stings, no matter how much of a tribute to vaudeville it is. Bumbling police officers add a comic element that strained this film rather than aiding it. It's alright to make fun of cops as long as the humour is blatant, or the scene demands it, but doing it just to prove a point about the director's hatred only serves to stretch our suspension of disbelief too far, not cool.
Overall Rating: 72% (Naive Even...)
Aftertaste: Is it possible that Alfred Hitchcock isn't going to be in my Top 5 directors list?! There's liking films by one director and there's being truly moved and loving their works. I know I speak early, not even having gone through half a man's works, but 19 movies in, I think I have a pretty good idea where I stand. It's official. I'm not a fan of Hitchcock's early works. I'll start off with a fresh slate when I watch Rebecca, a place I think marks his rise into constant classicdom.