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Jamaica Inn Reviews

Page 1 of 8
AJ V

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
This is my favourite of Hitchcock's 30s movies, it's exciting, thrilling, and romantic. It has great actors too.
rubystevens
rubystevens

Super Reviewer

May 3, 2008
it's pretty weak for hitchcock; way too melodramatic with alot of bad acting, including a ridiculous performance by charles laughton! too bad; i love sea adventures...
Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2007
"Jamaica Inn" is a rarity in Hitchcock's filmography: a film that was BEHIND its time (it could have been an early talkie). It is notable only for the hints of sexual perversion one can find in the performances of Charles Laughton and Leslie Banks; in fact, the villains of the piece are much more interesting than the bland heroes. No "Juno and the Paycock", but still one of Hitchcock's weakest
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

March 14, 2014
Jamaican me [u]inn[/u]sane, mon! ...Wow, that was terrible, although it's not that much worse than the film itself, or at least that's what others are saying. I guess snobby critics can dislike a film that is not simply from the 1930s, but directed by Alfred Hitchcock, especially when the film evokes memories of future Hitchcock projects that are a much bigger deal. Retrospect should really help this film, because it deserves to be respected for being Hitchcock's first adaptation of a piece by Daphne du Maurier, the writer of "Rebecca" and "The Birds", and because it's hard to not think about a Hitchcock film set in a hotel and not get a little bit tensed up, especially when Leslie Banks is there. Forget "Psycho", because when I think about Banks as an innkeeper in an adventure film from the '30s, I can't help but think of "The Most Dangerous Game", but don't get too excited, kids, because this film isn't even as tense as "The Most Dangerous Game". Well, that might just be because the Master of Suspense isn't really making an especially suspenseful film here, or at least not on purpose. This film is so British that there has to be some kind of chilling ambiguity to this narrative, given that you can't hardly understand what people are saying and are therefore left wondering just what in the world is going to happen next. Well, at least Jamaican accents aren't that common here, which isn't to say that this film doesn't still have issues extending beyond what I can apparently describe as "suspensefully confusing" British accents, as it is indeed pretty flat, though not entirely, at least in concept.

The story concept behind this film is executed with intrigue limitations that bland to the point of dullness, but as a basic idea, I must admit that it's pretty interesting as a dramatic study on the tensions between classes of 1819, complete with some meaty conflicts and interesting characters, underdeveloped in storytelling, and brought about as much to life as they can be by a charismatic cast. Well, I don't know if it's being of dating or simply a shortage in material, but even the performances are rather underwhelming here, with a few being kind of mediocre, and yet, there's still enough charisma within and chemistry between the classic talents who make up this broad cast to reinforce some sense of charm, and therefore help in driving the final product. Now, the performances certainly don't drive the film especially far, like they probably would have if they were more consistent in their effectiveness, yet decency in the final product really is all but secured by the charm of its performances, and not just the ones found on the screen. Finding the film to be a disaster, possibly even before completing his duties as director, the great Alfred Hitchcock does not place all that much inspiration into this effort, but he does indeed try, not so much in crafting all that much atmosphere, let alone his trademark potent one, but enough to draw on the colorful elements in the material at enough times to keep you from completely falling out of the film. The moments of decency are, of course, few and far between in this limp affair, but they do indeed stand, found on the backs of interesting subject matter, charismatic performances and colorful highlights in direction, all of which do what they can, at least enough to meet the missteps and place some control on their sting. Really, when it comes down to it, the film is both too bland and, well, too charming to be close to bad, and while the strengths aren't rich enough in either quantity or quality, they join the limitations in contemptibility in all but saving the film as pretty fair. As things stand, however, the final product falls, albeit not that far, but far enough into mediocrity to be utterly forgettable, despite interesting ideas that aren't even all that thoroughly explored, let alone done justice.

I've talked about the film's interesting characters, of which there are many, so as an ensemble piece, this drama could have gone a fair distance, but it really messes up by simply being underdeveloped, and seriously so, failing to flesh out its characters as distinguished, leaving many of the potentially unique characters to run together, and not fulfill their ostensibly key roles in this narrative which thrives on the characters' depths and interactions. The characters would have been all but completely uninteresting in execution if so many of the performances weren't so charismatic, but the expository laziness that the overwhelmingly overblown screenwriting team of Daphne du Maurier, Sidney Gilliat, Joan Harrison, Alma Reville and J. B. Priestley seriously undercut the intrigue of this story, making it all that harder to ignore the limitations in intrigue that are even found in concept. Yes, the story is interesting, but the final product wouldn't be so easily mediocre if the story was more interesting, rather than light in scope for something of an adventure affair, as well as lacking in dramatic weight, despite its sometimes borderline abrasive efforts. I don't know if the film's histrionics are so much problematic because they're so severe, as much as they're problematic because they're just so recurring, falling over dramatic set piece after dramatic set piece, until it becomes too difficult to buy into them in the context of this melodrama as much more than cheesy, exacerbated by some camp. The film isn't terribly dated, but only so many of its attributes have aged with grace, and while the film is far from hilarious in its cheesiness, it's just so hard to take this film seriously, even when you take out of account the lack of storytelling meat that, quite frankly, could be forgiven if the film wasn't so dull. Constantly moving, at least with its dialogue, the film's narrative isn't all that overblown, but it is meandering, with near-monotonously do-little plotting that Alfred Hitchcock admittedly makes all the more glaring with an atmosphere that is present, with a number of highlights, but primarily bone-dry, maybe even cold, to the point of being, not simply bland, but just plain dull and distancing against a should-be entertaining opus that can't afford to distance you any more with all of its aforementioned problems. Undercooked, overblown and all around bland, the film has a charm to it that, when justified by some inspiration, all but saves the final product as yet another forgettable, but fair flick, yet when it's all said and done, the film doesn't do much of intrigue, and before to long, it becomes too hard to keep invested in it, in all of its mediocrity.

When it's time to check out, at least at the point at which the film would rather you would, charming performances and direction behind an interesting story concept are almost enough to save the final product, but through glaring underdevelopment and cheese, as well as sheer dullness to monotonous storytelling, Alfred Hitchcock's "Jamaica Inn" falls flat, as a borderline decent, but ultimately mediocre misfire to one of the more important filmmakers in storytelling, whose standards for inspiration are by no means exemplified here.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
Daniel D

Super Reviewer

July 29, 2013
This is the newly crowned "Worst Hitchcock film" (that I've seen). Before I'd give this title to Number 17 (which I'd give the same rating), but that film at least had some laughs, this was empty. The film is not engaging, it has no character development, and never attempts bring the audience in. The B&W photography, was extremely poor, and completely unblanced. But Charles Laughton is becoming one of my favorite classic actors, he makes dry film, have some spark to them.
Sarah P

Super Reviewer

January 21, 2008
I didn't get this one or why anyone would want to watch it.
February 13, 2014
Like many of Hitchcock's early British films 'Jamaica Inn' is particularly hard to fairly review based on the poor state of the film on DVD without anything remotely close to restoration going on. Extremely dark images, muffled soundtracks, and possible missing scenes (Maureen O'Hara goes from seeking dry clothes in Charles Laughton's house to being back with her aunt and uncle who wants to kill her at Jamaica Inn within seconds without any explanation) often make it hard to follow. Perhaps this is exactly the film that Hitchcock intentionally released...but I doubt it.
All of that being said, the elements for a truly fun adventure/thriller are present here and one can easily imagine it being remade as potentially great film. Now if only they could resurrect Charles Laughton and get him to reprise his creepy villainous role...
holmennnguy
June 18, 2008
Very disappointing movie. This is the only Hitchcock movie that I've given a 6/10 or below, which is a shame. It just didn't feel like a Hitchcock movie, and I know that it was one of his earliest. But it does have some suspense and good acting.
May 10, 2008
Good adventure story. Superb acting by the principals. Surprising predictable ending and uneven cuts. Saw it all the way through 5/10/08
March 30, 2007
One of my favorite guilty pleasures. I first saw this movie because Robert Newton was in it (and barely recognized him from Treasure Island, the only other movie I'd seen him in back then besides Oliver Twist), then read the novel--twice. The movie pales in comparison. But it did make me a fan of Emlyn Williams. The grotesquely made-up Charles Laughton dominates the picture as the pompous, overbearing Squire Pengallan (a character invented for the movie), yet Williams is the one who steals the show as the "dirty little blackguard" Harry. It's worth watching again and again just to see him pitted against Robert Newton as the romantic hero.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

March 14, 2014
Jamaican me [u]inn[/u]sane, mon! ...Wow, that was terrible, although it's not that much worse than the film itself, or at least that's what others are saying. I guess snobby critics can dislike a film that is not simply from the 1930s, but directed by Alfred Hitchcock, especially when the film evokes memories of future Hitchcock projects that are a much bigger deal. Retrospect should really help this film, because it deserves to be respected for being Hitchcock's first adaptation of a piece by Daphne du Maurier, the writer of "Rebecca" and "The Birds", and because it's hard to not think about a Hitchcock film set in a hotel and not get a little bit tensed up, especially when Leslie Banks is there. Forget "Psycho", because when I think about Banks as an innkeeper in an adventure film from the '30s, I can't help but think of "The Most Dangerous Game", but don't get too excited, kids, because this film isn't even as tense as "The Most Dangerous Game". Well, that might just be because the Master of Suspense isn't really making an especially suspenseful film here, or at least not on purpose. This film is so British that there has to be some kind of chilling ambiguity to this narrative, given that you can't hardly understand what people are saying and are therefore left wondering just what in the world is going to happen next. Well, at least Jamaican accents aren't that common here, which isn't to say that this film doesn't still have issues extending beyond what I can apparently describe as "suspensefully confusing" British accents, as it is indeed pretty flat, though not entirely, at least in concept.

The story concept behind this film is executed with intrigue limitations that bland to the point of dullness, but as a basic idea, I must admit that it's pretty interesting as a dramatic study on the tensions between classes of 1819, complete with some meaty conflicts and interesting characters, underdeveloped in storytelling, and brought about as much to life as they can be by a charismatic cast. Well, I don't know if it's being of dating or simply a shortage in material, but even the performances are rather underwhelming here, with a few being kind of mediocre, and yet, there's still enough charisma within and chemistry between the classic talents who make up this broad cast to reinforce some sense of charm, and therefore help in driving the final product. Now, the performances certainly don't drive the film especially far, like they probably would have if they were more consistent in their effectiveness, yet decency in the final product really is all but secured by the charm of its performances, and not just the ones found on the screen. Finding the film to be a disaster, possibly even before completing his duties as director, the great Alfred Hitchcock does not place all that much inspiration into this effort, but he does indeed try, not so much in crafting all that much atmosphere, let alone his trademark potent one, but enough to draw on the colorful elements in the material at enough times to keep you from completely falling out of the film. The moments of decency are, of course, few and far between in this limp affair, but they do indeed stand, found on the backs of interesting subject matter, charismatic performances and colorful highlights in direction, all of which do what they can, at least enough to meet the missteps and place some control on their sting. Really, when it comes down to it, the film is both too bland and, well, too charming to be close to bad, and while the strengths aren't rich enough in either quantity or quality, they join the limitations in contemptibility in all but saving the film as pretty fair. As things stand, however, the final product falls, albeit not that far, but far enough into mediocrity to be utterly forgettable, despite interesting ideas that aren't even all that thoroughly explored, let alone done justice.

I've talked about the film's interesting characters, of which there are many, so as an ensemble piece, this drama could have gone a fair distance, but it really messes up by simply being underdeveloped, and seriously so, failing to flesh out its characters as distinguished, leaving many of the potentially unique characters to run together, and not fulfill their ostensibly key roles in this narrative which thrives on the characters' depths and interactions. The characters would have been all but completely uninteresting in execution if so many of the performances weren't so charismatic, but the expository laziness that the overwhelmingly overblown screenwriting team of Daphne du Maurier, Sidney Gilliat, Joan Harrison, Alma Reville and J. B. Priestley seriously undercut the intrigue of this story, making it all that harder to ignore the limitations in intrigue that are even found in concept. Yes, the story is interesting, but the final product wouldn't be so easily mediocre if the story was more interesting, rather than light in scope for something of an adventure affair, as well as lacking in dramatic weight, despite its sometimes borderline abrasive efforts. I don't know if the film's histrionics are so much problematic because they're so severe, as much as they're problematic because they're just so recurring, falling over dramatic set piece after dramatic set piece, until it becomes too difficult to buy into them in the context of this melodrama as much more than cheesy, exacerbated by some camp. The film isn't terribly dated, but only so many of its attributes have aged with grace, and while the film is far from hilarious in its cheesiness, it's just so hard to take this film seriously, even when you take out of account the lack of storytelling meat that, quite frankly, could be forgiven if the film wasn't so dull. Constantly moving, at least with its dialogue, the film's narrative isn't all that overblown, but it is meandering, with near-monotonously do-little plotting that Alfred Hitchcock admittedly makes all the more glaring with an atmosphere that is present, with a number of highlights, but primarily bone-dry, maybe even cold, to the point of being, not simply bland, but just plain dull and distancing against a should-be entertaining opus that can't afford to distance you any more with all of its aforementioned problems. Undercooked, overblown and all around bland, the film has a charm to it that, when justified by some inspiration, all but saves the final product as yet another forgettable, but fair flick, yet when it's all said and done, the film doesn't do much of intrigue, and before to long, it becomes too hard to keep invested in it, in all of its mediocrity.

When it's time to check out, at least at the point at which the film would rather you would, charming performances and direction behind an interesting story concept are almost enough to save the final product, but through glaring underdevelopment and cheese, as well as sheer dullness to monotonous storytelling, Alfred Hitchcock's "Jamaica Inn" falls flat, as a borderline decent, but ultimately mediocre misfire to one of the more important filmmakers in storytelling, whose standards for inspiration are by no means exemplified here.

2.25/5 - Mediocre
February 3, 2014
While it has a lot of the nice cinematography and style you can find in Hitchcock's films, this isn't one of his better pictures. The costumes and sets are nice, but the characters are bland, the accents are hard to understand, and the plot is slow and dull.
PetrosTser
October 15, 2013
This is a film of seriously cheap nature and with a rather conventional plot despite some effective twists and turns. It's mostly engaging but not fully rewarding.
April 26, 2013
The tale of an orphaned girl who goes to live with relatives only to become involved in a violent smuggling scheme by shipwrecking pirates. Quite dull and showing virtually no sign of the characteristic traits of Hitchcock, the film's only claim tof interest comes from a show stealing performance by Laughton.
July 28, 2011
Not as bad as many say. The film is mildly entertaining and provides an insight into many classic Hitchcock themes. The opening is steeped in the German Expressionism Hitch reveled in, with sharp shadows, loud yells from sailors and the splashing of the waves. In addition, the way Hitch filmed the gagging and binding scene with Laughton and O'Hara is an elementary education into both filmmaking styles and themes that he would explore with greater success in Psycho, Marnie and others more than 20 years later.
Hitchcock Biographer Patrick McGilligan reports that the famed director had no particular interest in the film, having just signed an agreement with famed American producer David O. Selznick. Hitchcock was finally going to be escaping the dismal situation the English film industry was in at the time, and thus he lacked the political energy to fight German-exiled producer Erich Pommer and Method-acting Charles Laughton.
Again, not a bad film, and certainly not Hitchcock's worst. Very interesting for those who'd like to see more of Hitchcock's development throughout his career.

Work Cited

Patrick McGilligan, . A Life in Darkness and Light. First edition. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2003. 223-225. Print.
Shiny
August 3, 2011
It was very weak and disappointing!
June 19, 2008
It nice to see Maureen O'Hara first movie as O'Hara, Wasn't the best movie ever but it was watchable..
June 26, 2011
Just couldn't get into it. Way too melodramatic and not what I would imagine walking into a Hitchcock film.
Dave J
July 9, 2010
Friday July 9, 2010

(1939) Jamaica Inn
SUSPENCE

A very unusual for a Hitchcock film but although this film was released back in 1939 still would not be suitable for children to watch because of the no holds- barred subject matter. Although there is no blood, the film's beginning was quite shocking to say the least where a ship tries to hit dry land only to crash into some rocks leading to a massacre of everybody from the ship! Then to the storyline where Mary played by a very young Maureen O' Hara, (her second feature film with Charles Laughton with the first The Hunchback of Notre Dame) came down to visit her aunt staying in an inn called Jamaica Inn and alot of things happen as a result.

The sound quality is not the best for it often sounds a little muffled but Hitchcock's trademark is quite evident with this film! Not the best but still entertaining just the same!

3/4
gillianren
November 3, 2009
And Introducing Maureen O'Hara!

For the life of me, I do not see why this is a Hitchcock movie. I mean, he may have chosen it himself, but it just doesn't seem to need the Hitchcock touch. My understanding is that the book might do better at it, that the book has a lot of excitement which is missing from the movie and so forth, and it's true there is a little bit of sexual weirdness implied, but as it stands, practically anyone could have done this. It is, frankly, a bit of a potboiler. It has the exciting "based on a true story" aspect to things, but that, for the most part, makes it even less like most of Hitchcock's work. It's a period piece, and he didn't work with those much, either. Anyone could have done this, and it rather feels as though no one terribly distinguished did.

Mary (Maureen O'Hara) has come to Jamaica Inn. Her parents have died, and she is there to stay with her Aunt Patience (Marie Ney). Unfortunately, not only has her message gone astray, staying with her aunt means staying with her uncle, Joss Merlyn (Leslie Banks). He is not what you might call the king of civilized behaviour. For one thing, like so many along the Cornwall coast, he makes his living salvaging the flotsam of shipwrecks. This was not entirely legal in the first place, not least because every good Cornishman seemed to supplement that income with a bit of honest smuggling. Only Joss and his gang are among those evil men who cause shipwrecks in the first place, and what with one thing and another, Mary is in way over her head awfully quickly.

This is not even the start of complications, in fact. There's a crooked squire (Charles Laughton), an undercover lawman (Robert Newton), and the fact that both men seem deeply interested in Mary. And, of course, both Mary and her aunt are pretty oblivious to the extent of what's going on. Then again, Patience seems to want to be. He's her man, after all, and she's going to stick by him, right or wrong. (Mary is properly horrified by this attitude.) It really seems that Mary doesn't have anywhere else to go, however. She's far from home--she and Patience are Irish--and there's simply nothing for her back there. This was not a good time to be a single woman much of anywhere in the world.

It's odd, really. This year, we are celebrating the seventieth anniversary of the greatest year in the history of film. I mean, there are huge, huge numbers of great movies, or at least iconic ones, which came out seventy years ago. And yet this was Hitchcock's only movie from that year, and it simply isn't very good. Of course, I don't think he'd hit his stride for about another ten years or so, but you can usually see the seeds of greatness even in these older films. This one is kind of so-so, which admittedly is pretty good for "one of the worst movies I've seen from this director," but still stands in contrast with, oh, Frank Capra, whose best film was 1939. John Ford had an amazing film come out in 1939. William Wyler had [i]Wuthering Heights[/i]. Billy Wilder wrote [i]Ninotchka[/i]. And then there's this.

Maureen O'Hara is very young here. It's actually kind of astonishing, though, in a way. In [i]The Parent Trap[/i], more than twenty years later, she would be told how old and dowdy she looks, but her face seems almost unchanged. She may look different now--she hasn't done anything in nearly ten years and very little for the thirty years before that--but Maureen O'Hara was simply Maureen O'Hara for the thirty years she was a working actress. There was, and probably is, a warmth to her beauty that few actresses seem to have. Never let it be said that she was not a stunner, but she was a stunner you could imagine being a loving mother. You could believe here that she is a frightened young woman who is afraid of the only way out of her situation. She doesn't seem too glamorous for that. It sounds almost like an insult, but it makes her better than all those starlets who are merely pretty.
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