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>
Hitchcock used some difficult six minute takes similar to the 10 minute takes he had employed on "Rope." See more »
(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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Hitchcock's least interesting film. Not surprising that it was a massive flop.
Transatlantic Pictures (Hitchcock's own production company) must've rubbed their hands with glee when they decided to co-produce this film with Warner Bros. For not only did they have the world's leading female actress (Ingrid Bergman) in their film, they also had gifted stars Joseph Cotten, Michael Wilding and Margaret Leighton lending support, and naturally the great Alfred Hitchcock at the helm. If ever a film was sure to be a critical and commercial hit, Under Capricorn was it. Such a shame, then, that Under Capricorn emerged as the worst film of Hitchcock's career. The critics roasted it, the public ignored it, and Transatlantic Pictures went bust.
Irish aristocratic lady Henrietta (Bergman) elopes to Australia with her cruel lover Sam Flusky (Cotten). She gradually develops the illness dipsomania, what with her lover controlling her every move with over-bearing authority and their maid Milly (Leighton) plying her with drink. A childhood friend of Henrietta's, Charles Adare (Wilding) turns up and, realising pretty quickly that all is not well, tries to help her regain a sense of stability.
The film is a laughably overwrought costume melodrama, totally ill-suited to Hitchcock's playful, suspenseful directing style. A year previously, the director had made the thriller Rope, using experimental ten minute takes, and in this film he still seems to be in the habit of allowing scenes to go on and on (maybe not ten minutes, but some bits last for six or seven minutes without a single cut). Frequently, the film feels tediously unspooled as a result. The actors seem to over-act much of the time, but it's hard to see how they could've avoided this as much of the screenplay requires them to handle some horribly overripe dialogue and reactions. Under Capricorn is undoubtedly the least interesting film that Hitchcock ever made. Those who try to persuade us that it is a misunderstood masterpiece are, I'm sorry to report, well and truly kidding themselves.
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