Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 22nd, 2017
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1939
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Sidney Gilliat, Joan Harrison, Sidney Gilliat, Alma Reville, J.B. Priestley
Cast: Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Hara, Basil Radford, Leslie Banks, Marie Ney
DVD Release Date: November, 7th, 2016
Approximate Running Time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 Aspect Ratio
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
DVD Release: Arrow Academy
Region Encoding: Region 2 PAL, Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £19.99 (UK)
Synopsis: After the death of her mother, a young woman goes to live with her aunt who is married to the leader of as gang of criminals that steal from shipwrecks and murder anyone who can identify them.
Jamaican Inn was a much-maligned film and its director Alfred Hitchcock was not satisfied with the final product. The film’s screenplay was adapted from author Daphne Du Maurier’s novel of the same name. This film would mark the first of three Daphne Du Maurier novels that Alfred Hitchcock would adapt into films. With the other two film’s being, Rebecca and The Birds.
This film is a classic example of where the star imposes themselves to the point that it dilutes the director’s vision. With Charles Laughton’s (Night of the Hunter) over the top performance as an aristocrat who struggles to maintain his sanity often overshadowing everything else that occurs in this film.
And though the film starts off strongly with its opening setup which introduces the gang of murdering thieves and a scene where the niece character is in a coach that refuses to stop at the notorious Jamaican Inn. Things quickly take an abrupt turn once Charles Laughton’s character’s introduction. From this moment on it is obvious who is this film’s villain.
The film’s narrative follow’s a cat and mouse like setup with the niece character constantly interfering with the criminal’s plans. And by the time this film gets to its moment of truth this scenario has worn itself thin. Fortunately, all is not lost and there are a few moments visuals that are more in line with what one would expect from an Alfred Hitchcock film.
Besides Charles Laughton’s aforementioned performance. Another standout performance includes, Maureen O’Hara (Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man) in the role of the niece. Her performance gives this film its moral center and her character is by far and away the most sympathetic. Other notable cast members include, Robert Newton (David Lean’s Oliver Twist) in the role of an informer who is rescued from a lynching by the niece character and Leslie Banks (The Most Dangerous Game, The Man Who Knew Too Much) in the role of Joss Merlyn, the ring leader of the gang of murdering thieves.
Arrows Academy presents Jamaican Inn in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. This transfer comes from the restoration that was used for Cohen Media’s North American release. This transfer is on par with the aforementioned Cohen Media release and when compared other home video releases for this film, this transfer is vastly superior in every way.
This release comes with one audio mix, a Dolby Digital mono mix in English and removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds, clean, clear and balanced throughout.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (1 minute 24 seconds), Shipwrecked in a Studio, a visual essay by Donald Spoto, author of The Dark Side Of Genius: The Life Of Alfred Hitchcock and Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies (12 minutes 34 seconds) and an audio commentary with film critic Jeremy Arnold.
Topics discussed in the visual essay include, the origins of the film, author Daphne Du Maurier, clashes that arose between Charles Laughton and Alfred Hitchcock, the cast and information about them, the screenplay and differences between the novel and the film and his thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, where this film’s sits within Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography, the score and how the only music occurs during the opening and end credits, editing, the visuals, the cast and information about them, the screenplay, producer Erich Pommer, author Daphne Du Maurier, the screenplay and its many rewrites and his thoughts about the film.
Rounding out the extras is reversible cover art and a booklet with cast & crew information, an essay about the film written by Nathalie Morris and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a Blu-Ray that has the same content included on the DVD included as part of this combo. Overall Jamaican Inn gets a solid release from Arrow Academy.