Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Alternate title: The Girl Was Young
United Kingdom, 1937. Gaumont British Picture Corporation. Screenplay by Charles Bennett, Edwin Greenwood, Anthony Armstrong, dialogue by Gerald Savory, continuity by Alma Reville, based on the novel A Shilling For Candles by Josephine Tey. Cinematography by Bernard Knowles. Produced by Edward Black. Music by Jack Beaver, Louis Levy. Production Design by Alfred Junge. Costume Design by Marianne. Film Editing by Charles Frend.
Delightful early Hitchcock film in which many of his favourite themes appear, including the innocent man on the run and the moral woman with immoral attractions to criminal behaviour. Derrick De Marney is adorable as a young man who finds a woman strangled on the beach and, in trying to help her, is accidentally accused of being her killer. Escaping the courthouse on the day of his trial, he hits the road in order to go and find the real killer, and along the way picks up an unwilling accomplice in the figure of the constable’s daughter (Nova Pilbeam), who ends up (big surprise) becoming attracted to him. Somewhere between the stylish Blackmail and the masterful Lady Vanishes, with hints of 39 Steps but with a lot more humour, this one boasts some fantastic sequences: a terrific mine shaft scene involving very impressive special effects, and a curiously strange birthday party for the heroine’s little niece that would be the sort of thing audiences would see more of in future films. It was Hitchcock’s personal favourite of his British films, and it is easy to see why; it is not one that audiences remember best, but there’s an enthusiastic delight coming from behind the camera that suggests that he had a marvelous time making it.