Jamaica Inn (1939)

Mary (Maureen O’Hara) moves to live with relatives at a place called Jamaica Inn. Little does she know that the residents are criminals that arrange shipwrecks to profit from them.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, Robert Newton, Leslie Banks

MPAA Rating: N/A

Fun Fact: Alfred Hitchcock’s final British film before he moved to Hollywood.

I’m a huge Hitchcock fan in general and Jamaica Inn was something I had never seen before. For the month of July, TCM is celebrating Hitchcock’s work and I had this film taped and got around to watching it. I have read that Hitchcock was not happy with the final work and this film is featured in The Fifty Worst Films of All Time book.

To me the film is not that bad and it’s a different type of Hitchcock film. The tone of it isn’t really that dark like in most of his films. It has a lighter tone and for someone that has never read the book the movie is based on it was fine for me. You could tell that the film went through a hard production phase with re-writes and Hitchcock not getting along with Charles Laughton on set. It was Laughton that wanted to have Hitchcock direct the film in the first place.

We get some great acting though. Leslie Banks was terrific as Joss as he brought the gang leader to life through menacing ways. This was Maureen O’Hara’s first film role and she pulled off the material well. Robert Newton was great as the undercover police man and you could tell this was the start of his acting career taking off. With these performances, you would think the legendary Charles Laughton would be in this conversation. Well sadly, he does not take this performance seriously. That’s where him and Hitchcock had their troubles on set. Hitchcock later would say you can’t direct Laughton but, you can be a referee to him.

Overall Jamaica Inn is a different Hitchcock film. It’s not as dark as some of his other films but, it’s worth checking out to say the least. The performances from O’Hara, Banks, and Newton are worth watching.

Verdict: Middle Ground


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