Sunday, January 19, 2014

Jamaica Inn (1939)


Beefing on Hitchcock
Jamaica Inn

Technically Hitchcock's final British film (production was before The Lady Vanishes yet release was afterwards), Jamaica Inn is well regarded as one of his worst films, despite being essentially a success at the time of release. Adapted from Daphne du Maurier's book of the same name, the story follows a young woman's arrival at the Jamaica Inn, run by her aunt and creepy uncle and home to an outlaw band of smugglers. Despite being an adaptation of the same author as his next film Rebecca and the much later film The Birds, there isn't much to the story and definitely not enough to sustain a film, in my opinion.

Aside from the story being weak already, it suffered even more from star and co-producer Charles Laughton's constant input into the movie's production, which annoyed Hitchcock greatly. Wanting more screen time, he forced Hitch to move an important reveal in the story to far earlier than necessary, which of course brought the level of suspense and intrigue down a lot. But despite his meddling with the story, he also insisted on casting a new actress Maureen O'Hara is the female lead, which really wasn't all that bad of a move considering her later career and fame.

It's all a fairly straightforward movie: Girl discovers smuggling ring, rescues a handsome young man from their grasp, they go to tell the authorities, the authorities are in on it and betray the couple... etc. Honestly, the movie just didn't do all that good of a job at maintaining my interest, but I forced myself to weather through to the very bitter end (and a bitter end it was).

Not an entirely horrid film overall, but I would have a bit of a hard time recommending it to anyone. I would definitely not say it's worth forgetting, but I still think his British picture run is best remembered as ending with The Lady Vanishes and not Jamaica Inn.