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>
Although well received in France, it was still a box office flop in US when it was released. The box office rank was #90 for the year. See more »
The opening narration declares that "In 1770 Captain Cook discovered Australia". While James Cook led one of the first British expeditions to Australia, other European explorers had visited the country before him. See more »
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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