Friday, August 13, 2010

Jamaica Inn

Jamaica Inn by Alfred Hitchcock
Based on the book by Daphne Du Maurier
Release Date: May 15th, 1939
Starring: Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Leslie Banks, Robert Newton, Marie Ney
Rating: ★
To Buy
Wreckers are on the Cornish coast, led by Joss Merlyn, proprietor of Jamaica Inn. They leave no survivors and head back to count their loot. Meanwhile Mary Yellen has come to Cornwall from Ireland after the death of her mother to be with her Aunt Patience. But the coachman refuses to stop at Jamaica Inn and she is forced to beg the assistance of the local Squire Pengallan. The Squire is a generous, over the top fop who is eagerly willing to lead a hand to a pretty face. Once he escorts Mary to the Inn she learns that her Aunt and Uncle never received her letter and that she was not expected, especially tonight after a wreck while the men are in high spirits. Mary is sent to her room while the men carouse downstairs. Drunkenly the accost Joss saying that they think they're being shafted, and there should be more money for them. Picking on the newcomer, Jem Trehearne, they decide to string him from the high beams in the Inn. Luckily for Jem, Mary sees whats happening and rescues him and then makes a run for it with Jem. After a night of evading the rowdies, they beg the help of the Squire, who in fact is the last person they should ask, because unbeknownst to them, he is the mastermind behind the Jamiaca Inn wreckers. Jem, despite being the bad man that Mary thinks he is, turns out to be on the pay of her majesties secret service. The Squire, in a fit of megalomania, decides to see how this will play out, playing both sides of the fence. Eventually fleeing with Mary will he be able to make it out of the country before he is found out?

After this abysmal film, which it must be said, it is, Daphne Du Maurier almost withheld the rights to Rebecca. It's patently obvious why. This travesty of a film made to cater to Charles Laughton's egomania lacks the suspense and nuance of Du Maurier's book. If shown one and then the other, you could barely recognize this movie as having come for the source material. There is no mystery, no suspense, and there is no feeling that this is a Hitchcock film. This could in fact be worse than Marnie, which until now was my most hated Hitchcock film, but at least that had some substance. This was just a headlong rush of wreckers throwing themselves into danger and waiting for the evil genius to be caught. Charles Laughton played the Squire as if he was a Bond Villain, but with all Regency foppery and absurd eyebrows. If I was Du Maurier and saw how they had destroyed my masterpiece I would be furious as well. To take a wonderful psychological drama that draws out the mystery slowly and then gives away everything in the first five minutes of the film and then just has chase scenes and fights with Charles Laughton mugging about with no character development or interest lead to a movie I was praying to end. In fact, if not for being duty bound to review this for my Hitchcockian Hoot'nanny I would have turned off the movie about ten minutes in. Though, the thug Harry did intrigue me, he looked like a 19th century version of Prince, I kid you not! But for you I prevailed, mainly so that I can tell you read the book, avoid the movie at all costs, and hope that the BBC decides to redo this as an Andrew Davies miniseries... I have ideas BBC bigwigs! Call me ok?


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