One of Hitchcock's (unfairly) forgotten films, living in the shadow of his more famous British works such as The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes, Young And Innocent remains one of the highlights of his pre-American era and is one of the sweetest movies in his entire canon.
A film actress is found dead on a beach by Robert Tisdall (Derrick De Marney), but as he was seen running away from the body, she was strangled by the belt of his stolen raincoat and she's left him some money in her will, the police arrest him. Managing to escape from the courthouse, after some first aid treatment by the police commissioner's daughter Erica (Nova Pilbeam), he goes on the run and subsequently meets up with Erica again who, although initially reluctant, eventually agrees to help him to prove his innocence.
We know from the very beginning that the real murderer is a man with twitching eyes and whilst the film is ostensibly about Robert and Erica's hunt to find the killer, it's more about their journey to falling in love with each other. Pilbeam is superb, and ever so lovely, and Hitch's real-life fondness for her shines through in every scene. It would be a cold-hearted male viewer indeed who could watch this film and not fall in love with Erica, or at the very least not understand why Robert is so smitten. De Marney, who never really interested the director as much, suffers as a result but still gives a strong performance.
There are a strong set of supporting cast members, with wonderful comedic touches (notice throughout the film that it's the children who behave better than the adults - for instance it's the adults running around the birthday party in silly hats playing games whilst the children are more formal). There are also some trademark set pieces to enjoy, including the stunning crane shot towards the end of the film which zooms in from 145 feet to 4 inches to reveal where the murderer is.
Hitchcock fans will love the film, noticing some neat touches that will remind them of some of his later works (the use of birds in the film for one) but even those with little affection for the great man would certainly be charmed. It may not manage to quite have the excitement that some of Hitchcock's other "man on the run" movies have, but Young And Innocent remains a charming, delightful movie which left this viewer with a smile on his face from start to finish.