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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Connoisseurs of ripe acting may enjoy this one. Laughton outdoes Laughton as Sir Humphrey Pengallan
If sinking your teeth into over-ripe fruit is one of your pleasures, then Jamaica Inn should be your dish. It features one of the ripest and most ludicrous performances I've ever seen from Charles Laughton as Sir Humphrey Pengallan, and that covers a lot of territory. As the squire who is the full-figured mastermind behind a gang of murderous wreckers on the Cornish...
Published on 19 Jun 2007 by C. O. DeRiemer

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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks suspense, although the film is 62 years old.
After reading the book by Daphne Du Murier I felt that I would like to purchase the film, as the book was extremely good. After watching the film the story is somewhat distorted compared to the book. The original story is fantastic but the film does not compare to the book at all. I my own view only about 20% of the film has been adapted from the book, the rest has been...
Published on 17 Oct 2001 by t.w.tomlinson@talk21.com


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Connoisseurs of ripe acting may enjoy this one. Laughton outdoes Laughton as Sir Humphrey Pengallan, 19 Jun 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] (DVD)
If sinking your teeth into over-ripe fruit is one of your pleasures, then Jamaica Inn should be your dish. It features one of the ripest and most ludicrous performances I've ever seen from Charles Laughton as Sir Humphrey Pengallan, and that covers a lot of territory. As the squire who is the full-figured mastermind behind a gang of murderous wreckers on the Cornish coast, Laughton sports the latest dandyish fashions, a false nose, false eyebrows which almost have lives of their own, a carefully coifed comb-over, a piggish over-bite and line readings that would make Bette Davis at her most mannered envious. Close behind in the ripe playing sweepstakes is Robert Newton as Jem Trehearne, law officer and hero, who roles his eyes almost as much as Laughton, and Leslie Banks as Joss Merlyn, the leader of the gang and the owner of Jamaica Inn. The only person who manages reasonably well is Maureen O'Hara who plays Mary, the plucky and beautiful niece of Merlyn's wife. Even she is largely confined to earnestly crying out for decency and screaming.

Don't get me wrong. Jamaica Inn is so over-the-top it's a delight to watch, especially when Laughton is chewing the scenery. Hitchcock, making his last movie in England before leaving for the United States, supposedly became so bored during filming that he didn't care what the actors did. The story is a bodice-ripper by Daphne de Maurier; in fact, Maureen O'Hara's bodice gets ripped not once but twice. The time is about 1800. The place is Cornwall on the rocky coast. Jamaica Inn is a stone hulk of a building close by the warning light that shows ships where to avoid the rocks in the stormy seas. Someone with advance knowledge of ships with rich cargos has been blocking the warning light. When the ships founder, wreckers work their way to the ships, slaughter all the sailors and take the cargo. Merlyn and his gang are the heavies, but who is the mastermind? Then young Mary, whose parents have died, shows up late one night at Jamaica Inn's doorstep to be taken in my her aunt, Merlyn's wife. At the same time we learn that the gang has a ringer in its midst, an officer of the law determined to bring justice to Cornwall and identify the mastermind. We also learn (this is no spoiler; we find out very early in the movie) that the mastermind is the effete, mannered Sir Humphrey. It all comes together with madness and murder on the wind, switching from Jamaica Inn and the rain-swept coast to Sir Henry's elegant mansion and his imperious demands. "Listen Merlyn," Sir Humphrey says, "I want money. I know what to do with money when I have it which is why I must have it. Do you understand? I must have it!"

The movie looks great. There are crashing seas, stormy nights and coaches drawn by galloping horses. Jamaica Inn itself has that detailed, threatening look that Hitchcock achieved with the wind mill in Foreign Correspondent. Stone stairways go up and down, nothing fits well, shutters rattle in the wind. The scenery chewing isn't confined to the leads, either. The gang members get their moments, too, especially Emlyn Williams as Harry, an invariably cheery and dirty young man with a knife. The movie rises or falls, however, not on Hitchcock but on Laughton...and Laughton is so ripe he's spellbinding. You have to see him to appreciate his way with these words, spoken to a bound and gagged Mary, "We may be going a long way, you know. Nearer the sun, of course...the Isles of Greece. You're thinking that'll cost money, but I have enough. One must have enough. I always knew that to live like a gentleman, spaciously and with elegance, one must have money...and a few beautiful possessions, of course, like you, my deah." Sir Humphrey's last words bring the movie to a satisfyingly ornate ending: "Make way for Pengallan!"

The movie is in the public domain and there is no good DVD transfer. In addition, some editions have an 8-minute scene missing about 50 minutes into the movie. Look for a run time of approximately 98 minutes.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alfred The Great., 6 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Of all Hitch's b/w films, this is probably the one he should've made in colour. -A roaring period piece, (unusual for Hitchcock) there's little doubt it would've worked better that way. It's a very exciting movie, with a great atmosphere and a good cast. One is so used to seeing the brilliant Leslie Banks playing either a British 2nd world war army general, or a dapper chainsmoking stiff-upper-lip gentleman, that you almost don't recognize him as the dirty loud brute he's playing here. Charles Laughton had a tendency to over-act, and this movie is no exception to him. Melvyn Johns (already an older man here) passed away only very recently, and is seen as one of the gang members. The critics didn't like this swashbuckler too much, and it's certainly not among Alfred's best, but being a big Banks fan I like it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wreckers of Bodmin Moor, 22 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] (DVD)
If you have a penchant for films of the 30's and 40's, and like a bit of tongue in cheek acting, then this is for you. Laughton is excellent, as is Newton, playing a Naval Officer working 'under cover'. O'Hara, in her first 'proper' film is good too - remember though that you must watch this with a mind of the viewer of the year it was made. In that respect I loved it.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks suspense, although the film is 62 years old., 17 Oct 2001
By 
t.w.tomlinson@talk21.com (Staffordshire, England.) - See all my reviews
After reading the book by Daphne Du Murier I felt that I would like to purchase the film, as the book was extremely good. After watching the film the story is somewhat distorted compared to the book. The original story is fantastic but the film does not compare to the book at all. I my own view only about 20% of the film has been adapted from the book, the rest has been created forming a totally different story. The vicar of Ultarnun does not even appear in the film yet he is one of the main characters in the book.
The original story is brilliant and would very much like to see some film producer take the story up and produce a film based on its original story from beginning to end. I'm sure that it would be a good murder, mystery and suspense, and of course I think it would create a lot of interest regarding Du Murier fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lesser known Hitchcok directed film, 27 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] (DVD)
A classic in its own right. This lesser known Alfred Hitchcock directed film still hits all the right buttons.Stars Charles Laughton, Maureen O'Hara, Leslie Banks and Robert Newton. If you are a Hitchcock fan get it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jamaica Inn, 22 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] (DVD)
This is the original Jamaica Inn Film with Maureen O'Hara that I love, it is set as how you would expect the scene to be for the date and book of the film. For the younger generation I don't think this is the adaptation they would enjoy considering all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood offers today.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like the book, 8 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] (DVD)
I realise that artistic licence allows producers to deviate from the original book, but with this film, Hitchcock appears to have read a different book altogether, or not read it at all. Mary is now from Ireland rather than Cornwall for no reason whatsoever, Joss's brother is completely missing as is the minister, both of whom are major characters in the book. The sound quality is poor as well. Don't buy this, no matter how cheap it is.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars That's women for you - save your life one minute, frightened of you the next, 31 Aug 2008
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IWFIcon - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] (DVD)
It's a film Hitchcock had no real afinity for, and it was largely out of frustration that he agreed to direct it. It was a torturous production (one member of the supporting cast died prematurely shortly after the film, with producer Sidney Gilliat blaming his demise on the fact the actors were required to do numerous takes in the middle of rolling wind and wave machines; removing the clergyman of the book as the villian disregarded the whole point of the novel itself; Charles Laughton's method acting (a process which Hitchcock declared "Laughton versus Laughton) and by rights shouldn't be much cop at all.

Yet whilst ultimately nothing more than a trivial piece of fluff there are a number of things to commend about Jamaica Inn. Maureen O'Hara, as Mary Yellen, gives a fiesty performance, ably supported by Leslie Banks and Marie Ney as her Uncle and Aunt and whilst little is done with them in the final analysis, there are laughs to be had with the army of pirates.

Charles Laughton, never knowingly understated, is as entertaining as ever (if you can stand him that is) and whilst the film lacks the depth and excellence that you would normally associate with a Hitchcock movie, it has to be said that for an hour and a half of your life, it never fails to rattle along and it more than keeps you entertained. Which doesn't make it a great Hitchcock film, but does, on balance, make it worth at least one viewing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Love Robert Newton and Maureen O'Hara, 7 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] (DVD)
Love Robert Newton and Maureen O'Hara. I was very sad when he ROBERT DRANK HIMSELF TO DEARTH. At least you can understand what they are saying unlike the recent BBC production. There was only one "MUMBLER" in the world you could understand and that was Marlon Brando. These so called actors especially the central actor????? was so dreadful I WAS YELLING AT THE TV. Thank goodness I was alone otherwise the men in white coats might of arrived.
Miss April Ashley MBE
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock?, 24 Sep 2003
By 
J. Skade "joeskade" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] (DVD)
This film is a mildly diverting piece of soapy melodrama to help you get through a wet sunday afternoon. What it is not is a Hitchcock film. It bears few of the master's traits and the controlled suspense and understated performances that distinguish even his lesser works are totally absent, as is the sly humour. Laughton - a giant of the screen and a fine director himself - gives what is probably the worst performance to feature in any Hitchcock film, an embarassment of silly makeup and overacting. His presence is such that this is difficult to ignore. Such is ego.
Still, Leslie Banks, Robert Newton and Maureen O'Hara - in her first picture-are fine (though the inimitable Basil Radford is given too little to do - we could do with more of him and less of Laughton) and the wreckers are all colourful enough. Not unentertaining but not Hitchcock.
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Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939]
Jamaica Inn [DVD] [1939] by Alfred Hitchcock (DVD - 2007)
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