Was reportedly one of Alfred Hitchcock's most unhappy directing jobs. He felt caught between Charles Laughton and Laughton's business partners. Later, he said that he did not so much direct the film as referee it.
When Charles Laughton was cast for the role of Squire Pengallan, Laughton insisted that Maureen O'Hara should be cast for the role of Mary. So Maureen O'Hara was cast as Mary in this film. The film was released in England on May 15, 1939.
In Hitchcock/Truffaut Interview, Hitchcock said like this about this film -"Although it (Jamaica Inn) became a box office hit, I'm still unhappy over it." This film garnered a large profit of 3.7 million dollars.
This was Hitchcock's last film with John Longden and Clare Greet. John Longden played Captain Johnson in this film. John Longden worked with Hitchcock in six films - Blackmail, Juno and Paycock, Elstree Calling (in the short sketch directed by Hitchcock), The Skin Game, Young and Innocent, and Jamaica Inn. Clare Greet worked with Hitchcock in 8 films. Clare Greet played Granny Tremarney (One of Sir Humprey's tenants) in this film. Clare Greet worked with Hitchcock in 8 films - Number 13 (Hitchcock's unfinished film), The Ring, The Manxman, Murder!, Lord Camber's Ladies (Alfred Hitchcock as the producer), The Man Who Knew too Much, Sabotage, and Jamaica Inn.
In Hitchcock/Pia Lindstrom interview (1972), Alfred Hitchcock said that it took one full morning to get one closeup of Charles Laughton in Jamaica Inn. Alfred Hitchcock also said this about Charles Laughton while working with him in Jamaica Inn - "He (Charles Laughton) was a nice man. A Charming man. He really was. But Oh! He suffered so much, because he felt he couldn't get it out. And we were whole morning on the one closeup until he got up. And he was crying in the corner. And I went over and patted him on the shoulder."
The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
In the Original Hitchcock Script written by Sidney Gilliat and Joan Harrison, the villain was a hypocritical preacher. But the villain was changed to a squire because unsympathetic portrayals of the clergy were forbidden by the Production Code in Hollywood. Charles Laughton was originally cast as the uncle, but he cast himself in the role of villain. Since Laughton was the co-producer and the star of this film, Laughton demanded that Hitchcock give his character, Squire Pengallon, greater screen time. This forced Hitchcock to reveal that Pengallon was a villain in league with the smugglers earlier in the film than Hitchcock had initially planned. Charles Laughton's acting was a problem point as well for Hitchcock. Laughton portrayed the Squire as having a mincing walk, to the beat of a German waltz which he played in his head, while Hitchcock thought it was out of character.