In 1831, Irishman Charles Adare travels to Australia to start a new life with the help of his cousin who has just been appointed governor. When he arrives he meets powerful landowner and ex-convict Sam Flusky, who wants to do a business deal with him. Whilst attending a dinner party at Flusky's house, Charles meets Flusky's wife Henrietta who he had known as a child back in Ireland. Henrietta is an alcoholic and seems to be on the verge of madness. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(at around 1h 02 mins) By way of mentioning an invitation to a ball, Charles tells Hattie and Sam, "Oh by the way, I have a bit of news for you," but his mouth is closed for much of the sentence. See more »
In seventeen-hundred and seventy, Captain Cook discovered Australia. Sixty years later, the city of Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, had grown on the edge of three million square miles of unknown land. The colony exported raw materials. It imported material even more raw - prisoners, many of them unjustly convicted, who were to be shaped into the pioneers of a great dominion. In eighteen-hundred and thirty-one King William the Fourth sent a new governor to rule the colony. ...
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With a great director, a good cast, and a relatively interesting premise, it's surprising that this doesn't work better than it does. The Australian setting has potential, as does Joseph Cotten's character and the tangle of relationships in his household. But, despite some good scenes, it never really comes together, and even when things start to happen, it never feels as if it has hit its stride.
There's little fault to be found with the settings, which are convincing enough. Some of the characters never really come to life, but there is still an interesting mix of them. The pace is one area that definitely could have been improved, and the pre-occupation with the long takes certainly doesn't help at all. The technique worked very well in Hitchcock's "Rope", because it meshed with the setting and the subject matter. It doesn't fit so well here in "Under Capricorn", and it often dilutes the suspense rather than increasing it.
By no means is it a total clinker - the story does have some interesting parts, and with a different approach it could have been suspenseful, even memorable. Hitchcock's technical skill is still present in many respects, and even Hitchcock's lesser achievements are still worth seeing.
The movie's overly-polished feel is consistent with the approach that was chosen. It's at least one case where the more familiar, less affected Hitchcock style would have resulted in a much better film.
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