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Jamaica Inn
UK 1939
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Running time 98 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars


Although this, his final British film, is atypical of Hitchcock's overall catalogue, it still belongs within the Boy's Own Adventure world that typifies so much of his early work and is characterized by his distinctively superior visual style.

Based on Daphne du Maurier's novel of the same name, the story is set in Cornwall during the early 1800's, where a group of cuthroats lure ships to their watery grave. Hitch assembles a likely gallery of rogues as the wreckers with Robert Newton as the hero and Maureen O'Hara, in her first major film role, as a feisty damsel in distress. Topping the bill as the dastardly Justice of the Peace Sir Humphrey Pengallan is Charles Laughton who produced the film and brought in J. B. Priestly to give him suitably fruity lines and who struts before the camera with delicious excess. It was as a result a difficult film for Hitchcock, who later dismissed it, to keep a creative handle on, probably indicated by the perfunctory nature of some of the scenes but notwithstanding it is a rollicking good yarn in the matinee style, that understandably was a commercial success in its day.

 

 

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