Screen legends Ingrid Bergman (Notorious) and Joseph Cotten (Citizen Kane) star in this spellbinding melodrama from the screen's Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock! Banished for murder to Australia, Sam Flusky (Cotton) takes his victim's troubled sister, Henrietta (Bergman), as his wife. The arrival of a new governor also brings Henrietta's old friend, Adare (Michael Wilding), who tries to help her conquer the demons plaguing her life. But something mysterious is afoot; is Henrietta going insane, or is there a sinister plot at work? A gripping, atmospheric yarn in the style of Rebecca and Gaslight, this sumptuous production features some of Hitchcock's most audacious visual tricks and is now presented on DVD in a rich new Technicolor digital transfer!
With the long-take experiment of Rope still fresh in his mind, Alfred Hitchcock turned his attention to romantic melodrama: Under Capricorn, a novel of 1830s Australia. Having little of the usual suspense to rely on, Hitchcock used the elegant long-take method to draw out Ingrid Bergman's harrowing performance. As a fallen aristocrat who married a former stable boy (Joseph Cotten) and moved Down Under, Bergman gives a fine portrayal of a woman hemmed in by a sour marriage and a guilty secret. The actress also felt hemmed in by Hitch's elaborate camera movements; she hated them. This expensive picture flopped on its first release, but it has a hypnotic flow despite a tendency toward talkiness. Hitchcock fans will recognize, beyond the details of plot, a couple of the director's key motifs: the jaundiced view of marriage, and the anxieties underlying social status. And, of course, the worship of an actress. --Robert Horton
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Yes, the material might seem appropriate for Hitch given the themes explored but this romantic melodrama was really quite a stretch for him as a director. The experience here certainly made his later works richer (such as Vertigo) but, on the whole, Under Capricorn was clearly a learning experience for Hitch.
The performances are grand and as florid as one might expect given the material. The screenplay by James Bridie (with considerable rewriting by Hume Cronyn)leaves Hitch in a lifeboat without oars; Hitch pretty much goes nowhere over the course of the film's 116 minutes. Unfortunately, this expensive miscalculation would do in Hitch's Transatlantic films (Rope was the first Transatlantic production and, despite some obvious flaws, is a much better film).
Still, despite its considerable flaws, Under Capricorn is a worthy experiment and worth a look from Hitchcock fans. The transfer is solid although not as rich as I expected and the extras are pretty slim (especially compared to Rope and Shadow of a Doubt).
The film is watchable, no question. There is no such thing as an "unwatchable" Hitchcock film. The cinematography (By Jack Cardiff, who also made THE RED SHOES and BLACK NARCISSUS) is attractive and Ingrid Bergman is very moving, especially in the scene where she pulls herself together and makes an attempt to run the household. The kitchen-maids, used to Leighton's strict rule, disobey, and Bergman realizes that she has no authority in her own house. Leighton strides to Bergman's bedroom and systematically exposes her and her bottles in front of her guests. But this is probably the only good scene in the entire film.
The fact that Hitchcock produced it himself, explains much of the film's shortcomings: He wanted to play it safe, because his own money was at stake. UNDER CAPRICORN must have looked terrific on paper, but his caution during shooting robbed the story of everything that must have attracted him in the first place. And he fails with one of the most potent subjects: mesalliance. A society lady marries her stable-boy, suffers under the loss of her social position and drowns her sorrows in the bottle. An interesting premise, but Hitchcock fails completely to elucidate their complex relationship. Hasn't Cotten every reason to be depressed since his wife considers him so obviously as her punishment? And what would have happened after all those years of his (not so selfless) self-sacrifice, if Bergman had refused to meet her part of the deal?Read more ›
Selznic didn't have the remotest thing to do with this movie! No this isn't as good as most Hitchcock movies but it is entertaining.
Exactement comme promis et selon la réputation du fournisseur.
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