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Harrison's Reports (1939) - Jamaica Inn




"Jamaica Inn" with Charles Laughton

(Paramount, October 13; time, 99 min.)

This British-made production will probably do good business, not because the picture itself merits it, but because of the popularity of Charles Laughton, the star, and of Alfred Hitchcock, the director ; also because of the fame of the novel, which has been read widely. It is a lurid melodrama, centering around nefarious characters, who resort to the most villainous acts to gain their ends. The action is spotty: at times it is slow, but occasionally it becomes quite exciting, holding one in tense suspense. Laughton overacts a bit, but his performance is colorful and amusing ; he dominates the picture. He is particularly good in the final scenes, where he, realizing that he had been trapped, kills himself. The romantic interest is of slight importance :—

Laughton, an English Squire, is respected and feared by his neighbors ; he demanded high taxes, for he needed the money to continue living in luxury. No one realized that he was at the head of a murderous gang of cutthroats, who caused ships to be wrecked to loot the ship of its cargo, after killing the survivors. Not even the men in the gang knew Laughton was the leader, for they took their orders from Leslie Banks, owner of the Inn. To this Inn comes Maureen O'Hara, niece of Banks' wife; soon she realizes what was going on and is shocked. She saves the life of one of the men in the gang, who had dared to object at the smallness of his share of the loot. It later develops that this man was a law officer; he had joined the gang in order to obtain evidence against them. She escapes with this man and goes to Laughton for protection. Laughton pretends to go to the Inn with the law officer to make the arrests ; instead he has the law officer bound, while lie makes his escape. Before leaving, he kills Banks and his wife. He gathers his belongings and prepares to leave for France, forcing Miss O'Hara to accompany him. But the law officer escapes and arrives at the boat in time to save Miss O'Hara, with whom he had fallen in love. Laughton, realizing that he was trapped, kills himself.

The plot was adapted from the novel by Daphne du Maurier. Sidney Gilliat and Joan Harrison wrote the screen play, and Erich Pommer produced it. In the cast are Emlyn Williams, Robert Newton, Marie Ney, and others.

Not for children. Suitable for adolescents and adults. Class B.