I've long maintained that Young & Innocent might be my favourite Hitchcock film, I rated it 10/10 when we saw it at the BFI in 2012 - but the big screen is invariably worth a point or two on a score. It's probably not a 10 film - and probably not my favourite Hitch film - not with The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes in the frame. But it's still a sweet and wonderfully paced gem.
The plot is shallow and won't hold up to too much scrutiny - but of course the plot is not the most important thing in a Hitch film. The leads are adorable, Nova is so funny and enthusiastic, and Derrick pulls off the charming male lead that Hitch's British films did so well. The sets are fantastic, particularly the mill. The car falling into the mine workings is genuinely hair raising stuff. And scattered around all of this are charming little set pieces - the Burgoyne family meals, Erica trying to clean up Robert's wounds after a brawl, and lots of lovely throwaway lines -
"I left my papers in the car go and get them for me."
"Get them yourself!"
"Well, ordinarily I would but if I was seen beside that thing I'd have to resign."
"Towser, we've left Towser behind!"
"It's all right, he's keeping up."
"I think it's very nice to have ladies company for a change."
"Don't you have lots of it? I thought lorries were very popular."
"We've got to get a look somehow."
"What about dancing around?"
"Can you dance?"
"No, of course not, duckie, but I don't mind having a go. It's only half walking, anyway."
BUT the best bit doesn't have Nova or Derrick, or sets or cranes, or hair-raising thrills! No, the best bit is a beautiful model shot when they arrive in town trying to locate Old Will the china mender. It has trains and bridges and buildings and ends on lovely little model versions of Erica and Robert.
You can show me all the flashy CGI you like but there is nothing more beautiful than a model shot like this one - I've probably said it before but I will again. A model is a real thing, it exists in real space and is shot with real film and even if it doesn't look perfect it always looks real. CGI might look more accurate (although often doesn't) but it never looks real.
That famous crane shot in the Grand Hotel is pure brilliance - Hitch throws it in so casually and the timing of the twitch is perfect - not because it's a revelation, we already know who the murderer is, we know where he's sitting and we know he's got a twitch, and is going to twitch. So Hitch is giving us all of this for kicks! It's a freebie "I'm not telling you anything, I'm just showing you how good film can be.
Young and Innocent is wonderful. No, it's not my fave Hitchcock film, but I'll never get tired of watching it.
- Watched: 2018-03-03
- Source: DVD
- Rating: 8/10