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Alfred Hitchcock
Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Robert Newton, Leslie Banks
Writing Credits:
Sidney Gilliat & Joan Harrison

In Cornwall around 1800, a young woman discovers that she's living near a gang of criminals who arrange shipwrecks for profit.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English LPCM Monaural 2.0
Not Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 5/12/2015

• Audio Commentary with Film Critic Jeremy Arnold
• “Shipwrecked in a Studio” Featurette
• 2014 Re-Release Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Jamaica Inn [Blu-Ray] (1939)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 17, 2015)

Although 1940’s Oscar-winning Rebecca gets most of the attention, it wasn’t the first time Alfred Hitchcock directed an adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier novel. In 1939, Hitch made Jamaica Inn, another flick based on Du Maurier’s work.

Set in Cornwall, England during the early 19th century, we learn of lawlessness off the coast. Gangs intentionally lead ships to their doom so they can feast off the vessels’ cargo.

Much of the action revolves around a local business called the Jamaica Inn, where an orphan named Mary (Maureen O’Hara) comes to live with her Uncle Joss (Leslie Banks) and Aunt Patience (Marie Ney). Joss runs the band of criminals, and Mary needs to confront this information. She also deals with the attention of Sir Humphrey Pengallan (Charles Laughton), the man who rules over the local area and who may have more involvement in illicit dealings than we initially believe.

Would anyone remember Jamaica Inn without Hitchcock’s presence behind the camera? Probably not. Even with legends such as O’Hara and Laughton attached, Inn offers such a forgettable affair that I find it tough to believe it’d maintain much public recognition.

At its core, Inn simply doesn’t “feel like Hitchcock”. The director’s partnership with Du Maurier via Rebecca becomes much more successful, as one can discern Hitchcock’s impact on it. Few view Rebecca as top-flight Hitch, but at least it shows signs of life.

On the other hand, Inn feels mostly like a half-baked pirate adventure. The characters never become particularly interesting and the story meanders on its way. I guess we find some potential intrigue beneath the surface, but the movie doesn’t explore these possibilities well. It tends to leave matters flat and undeveloped.

Laughton dominates the film, but not in a positive manner. He delivers a broad, campy performance that devours everything it encounters. Under other circumstances, Laughton may have brought verve and life to the proceedings, but the actor’s style doesn’t mesh with Hitchcock’s, so his flamboyant turn feels disconnected with the director’s efforts.

All these factors combine to turn Jamaica Inn into lesser Hitchcock. The movie lacks the suspense or drama we expect from the legendary director and winds up as a leaden dud.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Jamaica Inn appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently satisfying presentation.

Sharpness worked well. Only a smidgen of softness materialized, and when it did so, it usually seemed to reflect the original photography. The majority of the film showed solid delineation and accuracy. I noticed virtually no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was absent. With a nice layer of grain, I witnessed no indications of intrusive noise reduction.

Blacks looked tight and deep, and contrast seemed solid. The movie exhibited a nicely silver sheen that depicted the black and white photography well. Print flaws were a non-factor, as the movie suffered from nary a speck, mark or other defect. This was a strong representation of the source material.

As for the film’s LPCM monaural soundtrack, it seemed typical for its era, which meant nothing about the audio excelled, but it remained solid for its age. Speech demonstrated pretty positive clarity and appeared surprisingly natural. Some lines were slightly edgy, but the dialogue didn’t seem as thin and shrill as I expected. Effects were acceptably clean and accurate; they didn’t demonstrate much range, but they lacked distortion and were fairly concise.

Music seemed similarly restricted but sounded fine for its age. Inn provides no formal score, so music appeared only at the beginning and end. The track lacked source flaws like pops or clicks. Ultimately, Inn provided a fine track for a flick from 1939.

When we move to extras, we find an audio commentary from film critic Jeremy Arnold. He provides a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, the source novel and its adaptation, how the production got to the screen, story/character areas and performances, sets, music, editing and related domains.

Arnold gives us a brisk, informative chat. He covers the topics we’d expect from a piece such as this and does so in a concise manner. Arnold turns this into a useful discussion.

In addition to the movie’s 2014 re-release trailer, we get a “video essay” called Shipwrecked in a Studio. Hosted by film historian Donald Spoto, this 13-minute, six-second piece tells us about the source novel and its adaptation as well as aspects of the production’s path to the screen, story/character areas, cast and performances, visual techniques, and the like. Spoto’s conversation complements Arnold’s and adds to our appreciation of the film.

The disc opens with ads for Magician: The Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles, Timbuktu, In the Name of My Daughter and Deli Man.

Fans will come to Jamaica Inn due to the presence of Alfred Hitchcock behind the camera. They shouldn’t expect much from the film, unfortunately, as the slow, dull “adventure” fails to match up to the director’s legend. The Blu-ray presents solid picture and audio along with some informative bonus materials. As a Hitchcock fan, I’m glad I saw Jamaica Inn, but I don’t care if I ever view this disappointment again.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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