Jamaica Inn (1939)

Jamaica Inn (1939), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

A tale of wreckers on the Cornwall coast: men who lure ships onto the rocks, murder the crew and plunder the cargo. It's a familiar setting in Regency romances.

It opens with an exciting storm and shipwreck. The movie takes place almost entirely at night and the gloomy tumbledown stone buildings are good. The main attractions are Maureen O'Hara (age 19) in her first film role as a fiery Irish lass, and Charles Laughton who hams it up without any restraint. He's the squire and local magistrate who is secretly the head of the gang. At first he seems strangely mannered, then very eccentric, but finally just nuts.

Otherwise it is neither funny enough nor serious enough to be of much interest. The plot doesn't move very forcefully. A police spy has infiltrated the gang and we have his discovery, people being tied up, escape, recapture, more tying up, more escape, etc.

It was Hitchcock's last British picture and he was never happy with it. His mind was probably on his move to Hollywood.

From a book by Daphne Du Maurier, who also wrote the novels for Rebecca (1940) and The Birds (1963). I recall from a Hitchcock biography that it was more or less an accident that he made films from three of her books. They weren't friends and didn't work together.

http://www.hitchcockwiki.com/gallery/500/2698.jpg http://www.hitchcockwiki.com/gallery/500/3893.jpg

(That's Robert Newton, not Charles Laughton, in the second photo).