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Jamaica Inn1939

  • 3.5
Alfred Hitchcock directed this classic tale adapted from a book by Daphne du Maurier. A young woman discovers that the people she has journeyed to Cornwall to live with are actually smugglers and murderers who arrange shipwrecks for profit. [Please excuse the poor source quality of this film. It is presented here in the best transfer currently available.]

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Member Reviews (3)

It's Hitchcock with big stars like Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara and a story written by Daphne Du Maurier. I was expecting more. The film is not nearly as refined as "Rebecca" released the following year.

A young lady (O'Hara) travels to England to live with her relatives and discovers that they are a band of pirates and cutthroats, luring sailors to their doom along the rocky coast. She helps a law officer escape and the adventure begins. There are portions that are exciting, but overall it misses the mark.

Perhaps it was the poor picture and sound quality that soured the experience for me. Laughton's dialog, in particular, is almost unintelligible. His eyebrows are distracting to say the least. It appears that they were shaved and then two woolly caterpillars were placed high on his forehead.

Charles Laughton does get in the last word as he executes a grand exit just before the feature concludes.

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top reviewer

Maureen O'Hara stars (in what's credited on screen as her film debut, though it's not ... it's the first time she used this screen name) as an Irish orphan who travels to the Cornwall coast to live with her aunt in the titular inn. Her uncle Leslie Banks is using the inn as a front for a gang of pirates who induce ships to crash into the rocky coast so they can murder the crew and steal the cargo. As O'Hara arrives, one of the men, Robert Newton, gets into a row with the others and is to be hanged. O'Hara saves him, and they flee, turning to the local magistrate Charles Laughton for help. This Daphne Du Maurier adaptation is often called one of Hitchcock's worst films, and I can see why one would say this, but I don't really agree. It's clearly not the kind of film he's best at, being an adventure film, not a thriller. Also, Laughton is an uncredited co-producer of the film, and he arguably had a larger hand at shaping the project than Hitchcock did. That said, I like the film as the rather straightforward pirate flick that it is. Banks is really a great villain, and Newton and O'Hara make solid heroic leads. I know many hate Laughton's outsized performance, but I don't. While it is probably one of Hitchcock's least Hitcockian films (though the scene where O'Hara saves Newton from the noose is clearly his work), there are quite a few of his films I dislike more.

good !