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Jamaica Inn/C,C

Image/1939/98m/FS 1.33

       A stiff adventure from director Alfred Hitchcock, Jamaica Inn fails to involve the viewer in either the story. Characters with no history are presented without depth. There are poor hints at what make them click, thereby making their actions less than satisfying. The movie presents the shavings of the Daphne DuMaurier novel. And don’t expect any great Hitchcockian touches to save this heavy action drama from drowning in its own waters.
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The final confrontation. ŠImage

     The waters along Cornwall on the English coast present rough traveling for ships. Night navigation depends on the warning beacons along the shore. An unscrupulous gang of down and dirty roughnecks is luring the ships into the rocks, dispatching the crews without mercy and plundering rich cargoes. Led by the imposing Joss Merlyn, the thieves’ den explodes when a newcomer suggests that the loot is not being distributed fairly. Meanwhile, Merlyn’s niece, Mary Yelland arrives from Ireland just in time to save the day for Jim Trehearne as Merlyn turns the gang against this newcomer. Behind the scenes effete Sir Humphrey Pengallen looms larger than life in a manor house casting a shadow on the nearby inn run by Merlyn.
     Charles Laughton has a fine old time with a huge prosthetic nose making Pengallen a definition of odious. He only has eyes for Maureen O’Hara who gives her usual feisty performance as Mary. Robert Newton is solid as Trehearne and Leslie Banks barks commands as Merlyn.
     This Kino Video production distributed by Image Entertainment may not be the greatest DVD to look at, but one must commend the companies for putting out titles that veer from the typical new release track. The black and white source material for the 1939 Jamaica Inn is not in great shape. Element dirt or scratches mar almost every scene and there are longish sequences that have top to bottom vertical scratches tarnishing the image. The image is sharp enough, but the contrast range is limited and shadow detail is one-dimensional. The sound is rife with a persistent hiss.