Sunday, October 24, 2010

Young and Innocent

Title: Young and Innocent (U.S. title: The Girl Was Young)
Year: 1937
Studio: Gaumont-British Picture corporation Ltd
Screenplay: Charles Bennett, Edwin Greenwood, Anthony Armstrong & Gerald Savory
Source Material: A novel called A Shilling for Candles by Josephine Tey
Running Time: 79 minutes
A black & white picture

Sunday 24th October, 1:00pm
After a rather lovely Sunday morning walk, I returned home for some lunch and a bit of relaxation. I certainly hope the mince pie and lemon meringue tart purchased on my travels don't cancel out the effort made. Still, the former was delicious enough to warrant the risk - the latter less so. Some people just don't know how to make the lemony bit right.
I am trying to lose a few kilos so I doubt these treats help - nor the two slices of left-over pizza I had for lunch (don't berate me too harshly, it was salmon and capers - not exactly the most dire ingredients.)
This afternoon's treat, however, was to watch the thoroughly engaging movie Young and Innocent which I have been fond of for many years and I have been looking forward to seeing it again as part of this blog/task ("blask"?)

Erica Burgoyne - Nova Pilbeam
Robert Tisdall - Derrick de Marney
Col. Burgoyne - Percy Marmont
Old Will - Edward Rigby
Erica's Aunt Margaret - Mary Clare
Det. Insp. Kent - John Longden
Guy - George Curzon
Erica's Uncle Basil - Basil Radford
Christine Clay - Pamela Carme
Det. Sgt. Miller - George Merritt
Solicitor - J.H. Roberts
Lorry Driver - Jerry Verno
Police Sergeant - H.F. Maltby
Police Constable - John Miller
Caretaker of 'Nobby's Lodging House' - Torin Thatcher
Band Leader/Singer - Gerry Fitzgerald

A famous film star argues with her husband when he discovers that she has been having plenty of young lovers on the side. The next morning, her body is washed up on the beach along with a man's raincoat belt.
A young man, Robert Tisdall, is walking along the cliffs and sees the body - he runs down and recognises her. As he runs off to get help, two girls up for their early-morning bathe in the sea witness him running off and assume he is the man who killed her. They tell the police as such when they arrive and Robert (who has returned to the scene) has little luck persuading them otherwise.
Later, at the police station, Robert learns that he was to inherit £1,200 in Christine's will - he knew her from his time in America when he had written some screenplays and worked with her. It certainly isn't looking good for Robert and he faints.
Enter Erica, who knows how to rouse somebody from a faint by use of brandy, slaps to the face and scrunching the ears of the fallen.
Erica is the daughter of the police chief and her initial instincts are that Robert is innocent.
Whilst going into court, Robert slips out amongst a crowd (due to very inept policemen) and has borrowed the thick spectacles of his solicitor to use as a disguise. During the commotion as people try to search for him, he gets away but the police are quick to begin a search.
When in the countryside, he serendipitously meets up with Erica whose car has run out of petrol. He helps her push it to a petrol station and explains his side of the story to her. She is guarded but willing to listen.
She leaves him at an old mill to hide out for the night and, after an evening of wild speculation about the escapee from her four brothers over dinner, Erica decides she needs to help Robert and takes him a food parcel the next morning.
Through a careless act of littering, Robert's location is given away to the police and the chase begins again with Erica and her dog, Towser, along for the ride.

Robert's plan is to find his raincoat to prove it still has its belt and thus cannot be the one used in the crime - he had it last at 'Tom's Hat' which is a bar/tea house in the country. When they arrive there, Erica makes inquiries only to learn that an old tramp called Old Will (who mends broken china to earn cash) had last been seen wearing it. She and Robert discover his whereabouts from one of the patrons after a rather bizarre bar fight and then head off again.
To give an excuse for her disappearance to her father later on, she decides she will drive to her Aunt's as a sort of alibi because it's on the way.
Once at her Aunt's and Uncle's home, she discovers it is also her cousin Felicity's 7th birthday and she is unable to get away quickly.
Aunt Margaret smells something fishy and can't keep her prying nose out of Erica's business. Luckily, her Uncle Basil gives them a form of escape and they take it.

The couple's next stop after being spotted by a policeman is hiding out in the car parked between two trains at a rail yard. It is obvious that Erica is beginning to develop feelings for Robert. She sleeps in the car whilst Robert investigates the dosshouse where Old Will is reputed to be.
Early the next morning, Robert finds Old Will through a clever use of broken china and discovers that Old Will certainly does have the raincoat - but without the belt!

Taking Will with them as they escape the police again, Erica and Robert learn that Will got his coat from a strange man with a weird blinking twitch - he swears he'd recognise the man is he saw him again.
To evade the police, they drive into an old mine works, but the ground gives way and swallows up the car, Will and Robert jump free and pull Erica to safety just in time. When she goes back for her dog, she falls into teh arms of the police, but Robert gets away with Old Will.

Back home, her father is disappointed with her behaviour. He feels responsible and cannot continue in his current role if his own flesh and blood has turned to crime. he shows her his letter of resignation. Appalled and upset, she heads to bed in tears.
That night, Robert turns up at the window. In their discussion, Erica tells Robert that the only thing in the coat was a box of matches from the Grand Hotel - their next port of call!!

Presumably, Erica gives Old Will some money to buy some decent clothes so he can enter the hotel and assist with the search for the strange man.
Robert waits surreptitiously outside.

The killer is a member of the band and he spies Old Will and guesses that his freedom may soon be coming to an end - he becomes jittery and nervous. During the music break, he takes extra medication to calm his nerves and his twitch but all this does is make him disorientated and during the second half of his performance, he loses control and faints. Erica, the wonder-resuscitator, leaps into action but as she approaches the fallen man in the crowd, she notices the twitch - she calls Old Will over to identify him and he does so. She asks the killer what he did with the belt and he deliriously confesses with a maniacal laugh. Thankfully, her father has just arrived on the scene and hears it all.
Grateful that his resignation will no longer be needed, he agrees that Robert should come for dinner at his daughter's request.
The End.

Great Lines
Due to it's frothy nature, the script is peppered with a number of nice lines and humorous moments.

When the body is discovered the following lines come from two voices in the surrounding crowd of rubberneckers:

Man #1: "Did she drown?"
Man #1: (sarcastically) "Nah, she's a mermaid."

I am entertained greatly by the mock-interrogation Erica's Aunt Margaret attempts at the party with the unfortunate slip in the details of Robert's pseudonym - one moment he says it's Beechcroft Manningtree, then a minute or two later, when asked again, he says it's Beechtree Manningcroft. No wonder Aunty Marg has her suspicions aroused.

A one-liner which makes me smile is when Old Will is dressed up to the nines so he can enter the Grand Hotel to meet Erica. Obviously not used to tailored clothing, he grumbles;

"These boots pinch a bit. I haven't had time to slit 'em for my corns!"

The less said about the 'Black face' the better, just remember to think of it in it's contemporary context.
I love the moment in the opening scene when Christine dares her husband to say the term he is pussy-footing about using in regard to her extra-curricular shenanigans.
When he does utter it, the expletive is smothered by the sound of thunder. Christine hears it well enough and slap her husband for using such language.
If there's one flaw to this film, it's the fact that the opening scenes make it perfectly clear that Christine is married to her killer and yet no one ever seems to mention him or question him. Odd.

In the old mine, the scene with the car falling through the earth is brilliantly filmed and it's very tense as Robert saves Erica's life. nail-biting stuff!
There is also a wonderful shot later, panning across the ballroom at the hotel which then zooms in on the guilty party right up to his twitching eyes. It's beautiful camerawork.

We will see Basil Radford again in The Lady Vanishes where he teams up with Naunton Wayne and they make a great double act - they also appear together in another favourite film of mine, Dead of Night - check it out if you have never seen it - it's a terrific Ealing horror film! (According to IMDb, the two actors appeared in 12 films together - I really ought to check some more of them out.)

My Verdict
A particular favourite of mine due to its blend of romance and thrills. 8/10

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