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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jamaica Inn (1939)

A young Irish lass (Maureen O'Hara) arrives at Jamaica Inn on the Cornish coast of England to stay with her aunt (Marie Ney) and her husband (Leslie Banks). But she soon finds out that the inn is a cover for smuggling and murder. Often considered one of Alfred Hitchcock's worst films, I wouldn't go that far but it is certainly one of his least interesting. It seems thrown together without much thought and Hitchcock's heart doesn't seem to be in it. Rumors are that Charles Laughton, who plays the duplicitous landowner and brain behind the smugglers, interfered with Hitchcock's direction which may account for it. It's a minor potboiler and mildly diverting but it doesn't stick with you. Laughton's wonderfully hammy performance may not have pleased Hitchcock but it's the most memorable thing about the film today. Ney's character is rather annoying as one of those wives loyal to their abusive husbands that irritate contemporary sensibilities. Based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier (better served by Hitchcock the following year when he filmed her REBECCA). With Robert Newton, Emlyn Williams, Mervyn Johns and Basil Radford.

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