The story has been repeated many times

Film Like Waltzes from Vienna, Hitchcock's Young and Innocent is something of a surprise considering its reputation. Perhaps the reason it’s rarely talked of glowingly is because of the politically incorrect final sequence which features a jazz band in black face and though that’s a distraction it doesn’t take away from a chaser that is just as impressive as The 39 Steps. Imagine The Bourne Identity premade as an Ealing Comedy with some Capraesque screwball comedy and you’re only half describing how entertaining this story of a man falsely accused of murder chasing across country with the daughter of the chief of police.

Reference is most often made to a climactic crane shot, the nature of which would give away the ending but I can say that Nova Pilbeam is adorable as the daughter (and you don’t get names like that any more unless they’re the daughter of a rockstar), her wide-eyes drawing the viewer towards the most important elements of each scene as much as the camera and Gerald Savory’s dialogue is structurally very similar to Robert Riskin’s in It Happened One Night, the slow development of a dysfunctional bond between her and the accused similar to the trust that develops between Gable and Colbert’s characters in that early screwball.

Next to The 39 Steps, Hitch’s most famous work of the period is The Lady Vanishes which someone I know ranks as her favourite film and it’s easy to see why with its vivid characterisation, tense plotting and wacked out unexpected climax. Hitch could have simply made all of the inhabitants of the hotel faintly suspicious as they deny having seen the old dear that Margaret Lockwood claims has gone missing, but instead he reveals their reasons, unfolding the rather British view of the world that Douglas Adams describes in one of his books as the Someone Else’s Problem Effect, then showing the results of their selfishness.

The story has been repeated many times, both in direct remakes and the likes of Flightplan or Changling, the element of a woman trying to convince people that she’s not going insane. In The Lady Vanishes, you're always pointing at the screen when a clue or something that proves that Lockwood’s character wasn’t seeing things hoves into view only to be snatched away before it can make a difference. But once those surprises have drifted away on repeat viewings it’s the other furniture that make it worth a repeat viewing, such as the loveable interplay between the cricket loving Caldicott and Charters who would later be resurrected in a series by the writers and actors like some 1940s Jay and Silent Bob, inserted to reflect on events, ultimately turning up as retirees for a television series in the mid-1980s (played by someone else).

Jamaica Inn is a bit of a retrograde step, recalling the murky direction of his British International Pictures and it’s clear that he’s wasn’t sure how to handle the material and so took his cues from Charles Laughton who doesn’t have much of an idea either. There’s nothing especially wrong with the performances, but the screenplay lacks any of the charm of his preceding six thrillers, and Hitch would later reflect that if he was making this adaptation again he’d keep the reveal of Laughton’s dual nature as lawman and pirate until way into the picture. He’s attempting his usual trick of creating tension by offering the audience more information about the situation than the main character is aware of, but it unbalances the story to have Laughton overpowering presence in almost every scene when it’s Maureen O'Hara’s tragic figure who requires our sympathy.

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