When Daphne DuMaurier wrote about "wreckers" - villains who lured ships onto the rocks in Cornwall in the 1800's - in her novel, Jamaica Inn, she caused controversy. Many simply do not believe that the luring of ships with false lights on the shore and the murder of their crew in order to steal the cargo ever actually happened. Nonetheless, DuMaurier stuck to her story that such things DID occur, and based the book 'Jamaica Inn' on a gang of "wreckers" in Cornwall.
Mary Yelland (the wonderful Jane Seymour) is a feisty young woman whose father is a victim of "wreckers" when his ship runs aground. Her Mother, unable to accept his death, dies shortly afterwards - having first made contact with her sister Patience (Billie Whitelaw) who has offered Mary a home. Patience was a giddy, bright young woman - but the cowed soul that Mary meets when she arrives at the lonely Jamaica Inn is clearly a woman living in fear. Her husband Joss Merlyn (Patrick McGoohan - in a magnificently chilling role) is a violent bully who is more than happy to have an attractive young woman to work in the bar. But he warns Mary to mind her own business and to keep to her room at night. Clearly there are secrets at Jamaica Inn - secrets that cost lives.
With an all star cast including Trevor Eve (Jem), Peter Vaughan (Squire Basset) and John McEnery (Rev. Francis Davey) this 3 part drama has haunting music, glorious wild Cornish scenery and a brooding plot which will keep the viewer engrossed.
We have waited too long for this version of 'Jamaica Inn' to become available on dvd. It was screened in 1983 on HTV (nice to see their station logo at the beginning) so 25+ years have passed since broadcast - but it is as fresh as the day it was first shown. No subtitles and nothing in the way of extras, this is nonetheless a fantastic costume drama, dark and haunting, and well worth tracking down!