Six Damn Fine Degrees #123: Young & Innocent

Welcome to Six Damn Fine Degrees. These instalments will be inspired by the idea of six degrees of separation in the loosest sense. The only rule: it connects – in some way – to the previous instalment. So come join us on our weekly foray into interconnectedness!

When it comes to the early British films by Alfred Hitchcock, there’s a famous few that grab all the attention: the likes of The Lodger, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Lady Vanishes and The 39 Steps. They’re all hugely entertaining, but one of the reasons they retain their status is that watching them you can spot so many of the ideas that Hitchcock was to take to Hollywood with him and make his more famous classics. It’s like listening to the early songs of an artist who’ll go on to conquer the charts – it’s clearly the same talent, not quite as polished, but then there’s something thrilling in how unpolished it is.

One film this applies to that rarely gets a mention though is 1937’s Young And Innocent. In it Hitchcock takes a break from his espionage man-on-the-run films to tell… well, let’s be honest here… a non-espionage man-on-the-run film. It’s a cosy little thriller, and clocking in at 83 minutes long doesn’t overstay its welcome. When it comes to all the great motifs that fill Hitch’s work, this one has all the right tropes, if not quite yet in full iconic order.

So if you do decide to give this film a try, you might want to add a Hitchcock Drinking Game to your experience. Spotting those famous elements of the man’s work and guaranteed to get you suitable sozzled in no time at all.

So, when watching this film, remembers to DRINK when:

  • A question is put to the innocent accused that makes him seem guilty
  • A proto-Hitchcock blonde (who isn’t yet blonde) does something that illustrates to some men that she’s resourceful and not at all helpless
  • A proto-Hitchcock blonde (who isn’t yet blonde) looks helpless
  • You spot a cheeky Cockney scamp
  • You spot a cheeky posh scamp
  • The innocent accused teases a young lady who fears he might be guilty in a way that really shouldn’t work, but does because she fancies him
  • You remember that the leading lady has one of the most fantastic names in British cinema: Nova Pilbeam
  • Sinister close-up of birds
  • Someone says the word “terribly” is a way that is so terribly, terribly posh it makes the cast of Downton Abbey sound rougher than everyone in Shameless
  • There’s a shonky model shot that still somehow works
  • There’s a brilliant, technically thrilling shot
  • There’s a very dated, racist element that makes you feel just a tad uncomfortable

The upshot of all this guarantees that you’ll be suitably drunk by the end, which has the added bonus that you’ll not notice that the final resolution of the case is idiotic, a disappointingly daft climax to the hunt for the real murderer. Indeed, for all its charms, you’ll like come away thinking the most sacrilegious of thoughts: maybe, just maybe, this not quite polished affair might benefit from being remade.

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