13 November 2016

JAMAICA INN. (1939) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.



JAMAICA INN. (1939) BASED ON THE BOOK BY DAPHNE DU MAURIER. DIRECTED BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK. PRODUCED BY ERICH POMMER AND CHARLES LAUGHTON. WRITTEN BY SIDNEY GILLIAT, JOAN HARRISON, ALMA REVILLE AND J.B. PRIESTLEY.
STARRING CHARLES LAUGHTON, MAUREEN O'HARA, ROBERT NEWTON, LESLIE BANKS, MARIE NEY, EMLYN WILLIAMS AND HORACE HODGES.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I can't believe that this fantastic adventure film is not considered to number amongst Alfred Hitchcock's better films. Okay, so it's not PSYCHO or THE BIRDS but one, nothing ever is and two, it's not meant to be. It's just a great rollicking romp of an adventure story set in Cornwall in 1819. It's about pirates and smugglers, yaaar...! Just like a HARDY BOYS book, haha.

It's the story of a young Irish woman called Mary Yellan who travels to Cornwall to her aunt's house (the titular Jamaica Inn) when her mother dies. Once there, she is horrified beyond belief to find that she's landed right in a pretty little nest of vipers, as they might have said in the old days.

Her aunt's husband, the odious Joss Merlyn, is the leader of a band of thieves and cut-throats who've got quite the little racket going in their neck of the woods. They lure unsuspecting ships onto the rocks, then they slaughter everyone on board who's survived the terrible shipwreck and they keep the cargo for themselves. Jewels, silks, whatever it is, it's theirs now...

Mary is played by one of Ireland's finest actresses, the beautiful and feisty Maureen O'Hara, who died only recently at a tremendous age, God bless her. Charles Laughton himself was responsible for getting her the part. It seems the discerning Mr. Laughton noticed how easy she was on the eye, haha. He obviously had great taste. Their collaboration in THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME surely makes for one of the most poignant, heart-wrenching films ever made. I love them together.

Charles Laughton is absolutely superb as the rich, foppish eccentric Sir Humphrey Pengallan, the local Justice of the Peace and the man to whom a desperate Mary turns when the pirates turn ugly and threaten her life. (Well, the pirates were all pretty ugly to begin with...!)

Sir Humphrey has quite the eye for good female flesh, much as he does for good horseflesh, haha, but would Mary have been better off taking her chances with the cut-throats...? The spine-chilling truth will undoubtedly all come out in time...

Robert Newton does a grand job as the undercover cop, Jem Trahearne, who's also got his eye on the comely Mary. The band of smugglers are all terrific too, especially Emlyn Williams as the sinister Harry the Pedlar who likes to whistle as he works.

Mary's poor Aunt Patience has clearly been led a dog's life by her husband Joss, the leader of the pirates. Her passive acceptance of her miserable lot and her continued devotion to an obviously abusive husband is portrayed very well and would by no means be confined to women from the early nineteenth century, one would imagine. Things don't really change that much from generation to generation, do they?

I understand that Alfred Hitchcock and his producer and leading man Charles Laughton clashed a fair bit throughout filming. Can't you just see it? Two rather portly, stubborn fellows, each no doubt used to being cock of their own particular walk, each individuals who clearly knew their own minds and were possibly used to always getting their own way. 

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during one of their altercations! Had the notoriously dominating director finally met his match...? 

I do know that Charles Laughton's insistence on extra screen time for his own character (I love that so much!) led to Hitchcock's having to reveal the big 'twist' in the film much earlier than he'd intended to. I can well imagine Hitchcock's planning a big 'reveal' for the ending and Charles Laughton ruining it with his carrying-on...!

The most staggering thing about this entire film is a fact so unbelievable you just won't, well, believe it, haha. I discovered it when I watched the extra feature entitled: 'SHIPWRECKED IN A STUDIO: A VISUAL ESSAY BY DONALD SPOTO, AUTHOR OF 'THE DARK SIDE OF GENIUS- THE LIFE OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK.' 

The title possibly gives the amazing fact away, but you should still watch this visual essay. It'll blow your fuppin' mind...! I might just let it slip that one unnamed cast member actually died of pneumonia after having been repeatedly drenched in thousands of gallons of cold water. Talk about suffering for your art...

This marvellous film is currently enjoying a new lease of life, I'm happy to say. It's out now in both DVD and Blu-Ray from ARROW ACADEMY and it'd be well worth the few bob. 

The ending is extremely powerful and unexpected and the scene where the faithful old retainer Chadwick hears his former master's strident, hectoring tones once more in his mind had me sniffling for hours. They surely don't make 'em like this any more. Do yourself a big favour and watch this. You're never too old for to catch the smugglers' blues...!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







No comments:

Post a comment