Under Capricorn (1949) Poster

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Watch it and try not to compare...
indrasnet15 July 2006
If your approach to reviewing this movie is to compare it with Hitchcock's usual style, Under Capricorn will surely not compare. If, however, you can suspend your expectations and view it with an open eye and mind, you might see that, in its own right, it is an excellent film of the type I refer to as the "Victorian soap opera." Being an aficionado of this "genre", perhaps I'm biased; but I enjoyed immensely the leisurely pace, extended dialog (which unlike other reviewers, I found to be intelligent, graceful, and poetic). I found it to be gently suspenseful, never really being sure who would get the girl in the end, or even who might survive to the end.

Joseph Cotton was appealing, even though his character throughout much of the movie seemed to be villainous, and his reasons for being that way were quite apparent by the end of the film. My suspension of disbelief centered around Bergman's casting as an Irish aristocrat: once in awhile she managed to say a word that had an Irish flavor, but mostly she just sounded Swedish. However, that did not detract at all from her usual thoughtful performance. Michael Wilding irritated me a little with his foppish ways, yet even he managed to come off as a human being with faults and virtues...just like the rest of us. Leighton was superb and she, like Cotton, seemed to be a treacherous yet sympathetic character. I think it was the portrayals of complicated people with no one being painted as totally good or bad, the nuanced characterizations that I found so artistic yet real.

If you approach this movie without preconceptions, you might be drawn into it and appreciate Hitchcock's genius in an entirely different way.
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An lesser-known and underrated Hitchcock masterpiece!
George-n-Kansas6 May 1999
It's a real shame (and also rather difficult to believe) that this film is so little-known and difficult to view. Even though it was directed by the famous Alfred Hitchcock (in my opinion, the most brilliant film director who ever lived), it has too often been dismissed as one of his "lesser works." To each his own, I suppose, but _Under Capricorn_ boasts some of the most beautiful photography and eloquent, literate dialogue to be found in any Hitchcock film. Although the plot and structure of the film are familiar (the quintessential love triangle, ala _Wuthering Heights_), Hitchcock's treatment raises it above the ordinary. The costumes and sets are actually quite lavish, and pay particular attention to the unique musical score! Hitchcock's experiments with the "ten-minute take" (with which he experimented in his previous film, _Rope_) also add to the film's interest. The film is not, of course, an artistic triumph for Hitchcock alone. Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten (to name only two) are stars of the caliber that one just doesn't see anymore, and they give worthy performances. Casting Ingrid Bergman as an Irish noblewoman is, of course, rather bizarre casting against type, but this great actress makes it work. Joseph Cotten possesses the rougher qualities that his part demands, but his performance also elicits sympathy from the viewer (such as the scene where he is going to present his wife with a collar of rubies but then decides to hide his gift when she and Charles Adair comment that it wouldn't go with her gown). The other actors, mostly little-known to American audiences, fill their roles well more than adequately and the very fact that they are unfamiliar makes them easier for the viewer to see as the characters they play rather than as "stars." All in all, _Under Capricorn_ is an underrated masterpiece that is surely one of the best "costume" pictures of the 1940s. It is not for anyone seeking vicarious thrills or shocks, but for discriminating viewers who demand a coherent storyline, color photography that is aesthetically pleasing, literate dialogue and interesting casting, _Under Capricorn_ will fill the bill. I recommend it enthusiastically!
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An Odd Misfire From A Great Director
Snow Leopard13 October 2004
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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Underrated and beautifully photographed
greazyfingers17 March 2005
While certainly uncharacteristic of Hitchcock's American films this film still has the Master's unmistakable imprint. Joseph Cotton is excellent in his role as a common man who resents the upper class of which he can never be a part. The rest of the actors do a fine job including Ingrid Bergman's turn as Cotton's drunk half mad wife. Perhaps the best and most interesting aspect of the film is the gorgeous Technicolor cinematography by Jack Cardiff. Cardiff who is probably best known for his work with Powell and Pressburger does a great job bringing the rich color of this period piece to the screen. The camera work is also characteristically Hitchcock with many long traveling shots with wonderfully complex compositions. The pace is slow and lacking suspense, but the characters and the situations are interesting and make the film work despite the pacing problems. Certainly not one of Hitchcock's strongest films, but definitely worth watching.
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Hitchcock's least interesting film. Not surprising that it was a massive flop.
Jonathon Dabell12 September 2004
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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If people went to the theater to see a Hitchcock film, they must have thought they were in the wrong theater
blanche-218 May 2012
Alfred Hitchcock veered out of his comfort zone several times in his career: "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "The Trouble with Harry," "Topaz," some others, and it could be argued, the sumptuous "Rebecca." "Under Capricorn" was produced by Hitchcock himself, is lovely to look at thanks to Jack Cardiff's cinematography, is well acted, and leaves one empty. It doesn't trade on Hitchcock's strong points.

The story concerns a young man, Charles Adare (Michael Wilding) who comes from Ireland to Australia in 1831 and becomes involved with a wealthy landowner, Sam Flusky (Joseph Cotten), who wants to do business with him. Invited to dinner at his home, Charles meets Flusky's wife, Henrietta (Ingrid Bergman) whom he knew in Ireland when he was a child. Henrietta is in bad shape. The house is run by a disagreeable servant, Milly (Margaret Leighton), and Henrietta seems to be a big alcoholic. It's obvious that Sam still loves his wife very much, but he's frustrated as to how to help her. Charles feels that their bond from the old country may be able to help him get to her, and Sam allows him to try. Sam doesn't think ahead, and he is unable to realize how insecure and jealous this is going to make him.

You wouldn't think with a cast like this and direction by Hitchcock that this thing could miss, but miss it does. It's pretty slow and boring. I shudder to think what it would have been like without Ingrid Bergman, who has the flashy role and does a beautiful job with it. Joseph Cotten is good, but may be a touch miscast - the role calls for less of a gentleman and more of someone with a tougher edge.

One thing I can't understand is the emphasis here on Irish roots. Michael Wilding is as English as they come, and makes no attempt at an Irish brogue; neither does Ingrid Bergman do anything about her Swedish accent.

This is a character-driven piece that doesn't have a fabulous script; Hitchcock was very plot-driven as a director. This is a bad fit. A noble experiment that lost a lot of money.
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Uninspired and dull...
MartinHafer28 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Soon after this film began, it was obvious why this is one of the least famous of Hitchcock's films of the era. First, there really isn't any mystery or suspense--it's just a costume drama. Second, and I am surprised no one else seemed to pick up on this, but the film looked ugly despite the nice costumes and sets. This is because it looks like everything was shot in a sound stage--even the outdoor shots. In addition, the matte paintings are among the least realistic and ugly I have ever seen. It just too me out of the mood to see sloppy and flat paintings which were supposed to be mansions.

The film is set in 1831 in the colony of Australia. Oddly, the film stars an American (Joseph Cotton), a Swede (Ingrid Bergman) and an Englishman who plays an Irishman (Michael Wilding). Wilding is a poor relative of the new Governor and is looking for a way to earn his fortune in this new land. He meets up with the brooding Cotton--who is immensely wealthy and an ex-convict (of course, MOST of Australia was settled by convicts during this period). But, when he goes to dinner at Cotton's home, he sees that he knows the man's wife (Bergman). Sadly, she is an alcoholic--and a pathetic one at that. So, Wilding makes it his job to help rehabilitate her--and obviously falls for her in the process. Standing in the way is the contemptible Milly--the housekeeper who does a great job of keeping house but also seems to enjoy keeping the mistress of the house drunk and ineffectual. She is a viper--and much like the crazed housekeeper in "Rebecca". In addition, the husband is a deeply screwed up man--and this becomes obvious the more his wife tries to regain normality. In other words, he and the housekeeper both seem to be working very hard to keep her an emotional invalid.

This is a pretty dull and ponderous film from start to finish. While it could have been interesting, oddly it wasn't. Intense music and great twists, signs of Hitchcock, are strangely absent in this slow, slow, slow film. It just lumbers along to its conclusion. Truly a disappointment and indifferently made --and you just can't believe a director as talented as Hitchcock could make such an uninspired film. It's not terrible...just not very good or interesting.
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To be proper.. a bit of a let down, I'd say.
ShrinkSteve27 March 2004
As a lover of Hitchcock I couldn't take 2 viewings of this one. The story has potential but the characters are horribly developed. The acting is fine, since the cast was superb. However, I wouldn't have wanted to be an actor in this one. Without spoiling, there is just too much anger without explanation. Too many characters lack character. The utter blindness of the leads to the glaring and painful flaws in the antagonists is almost comical. Finally, the sudden restoration of everyone's honesty and peace in the last scene is intolerable. A story is believable if the characters act like real humans would act. This film is an attempt to fool the viewer into thinking that a leopard can change it's spots in the blink of an eye! It is interesting to note that, even in a melodramatic story driven piece, Hitch still found a place for the falsely accused in the plot. Hitchcock was great, there will never be an equal, but, even he made a dud.. makes me feel better about myself!
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Hitchcocks Greatest?
desol-28 September 2000
Under Capricorn, is along with Notorious, I Confess and Rear Window Hitchcocks greatest film. Under Capricorn has been greatly under appreciated mainly because it was a commercial failure and because Hitchcock talked the movie down saying that he only made it for Ingrid Bergman. The truth is that he had been working on getting it made for years, would he really put his production company under pressure on it's second project with a $2.5 million budget if he didn't care for it. Maybe part of its mixed reputation is because it's not a thriller, being a character driven movie, at just under two hours long its not you're typical Hitchcock movie. But the story is revealed in a wonderful way, with such a great romantic feeling that I'm amazed that it's not more highly thought off by the general public. If there ever was a more beautifully film movie I've never seen it. Ingrid Bergman is as she always is, brilliant; her 10-minuet scene in which she tells wilding the whole story of what happened is pure magic. Another great moment is when Bergman has locked herself in her room and wilding comes through her window. Joseph Cotton is also on top form. Really all that I've got left to say is if you haven't yet seen this film and you get the chance to don't waste that chance. I wish it would come out on DVD or video I've nearly worn my copy out.
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A Melodramatic Romance by Alfred Hitchcock
Claudio Carvalho3 October 2011
In 1831, the new Governor (Cecil Parker) arrives in Sydney, Australia, with his noble but broken Irish cousin Charles Adare (Michael Wilding). On the next morning, Charles unsuccessfully goes to the local bank expecting to raise money to start a business and he meets the powerful landowner Sam Flusky (Joseph Cotton), an ex-convict that has raised a fortune in the colony. Sam proposes a business with lands with him and invites Charles to have dinner with him at his farm.

Charles learns that Sam is not accepted by the local society but he goes to the dinner party, where he meets Sam's wife Henrietta Flusky (Ingrid Bergman), an old acquaintance of his childhood in Ireland. Sooner Charles discovers that Henrietta is alcoholic and a totally unstable woman controlled by the housekeeper Milly (Margaret Leighton), and Sam was the groom of her family in Ireland. They had fallen in love with each other and Henrietta elopes with Sam. However, her brother hunts them and Sam kills him and is deported to Australia. Charles stays in Sam's farm to help Henrietta and sooner he falls in love with her. Meanwhile Sam is manipulated by Milly and his jealousy gets him into trouble and discloses dark secrets from his past with Henrietta.

"Under Capricorn" is a melodramatic romance by Alfred Hitchcock set in Australia in 1831, in the period of colonization of this great nation by convicts from the United Kingdom. The genre is unusual in the career of the master of suspense, but supported by magnificent cinematography and cast, highlighting Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotton, Michael Wilding and Margaret Leighton in a small but very important role. This film is not among my favorite Hitchcock's film and could be shorter. However it is worthwhile watching it to see some aspects to the colonization of Australia. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Sob o Signo de Capricórnio" ("Under the Capricorn Sign")
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Shockingly awful Hitchcock
Zbigniew_Krycsiwiki11 September 2013
Unusual genre change for Hitchcock, a suspense-less western, crossed with romance and costume drama/ stage play, in the Land Down Under.

Long and lumbering mess of a movie, with Hitchcock more interested in setting up lengthy tracking shots than anything else. In the previous year's Rope, Hitchcock used the same trick to good effect, but here it seems to have no purpose, no relation to the story. In Rope, the long, unedited takes resembled an unblinking, all seeing eye.

Here, it seems like the same unblinking, all-seeing eye refuses to look away, even though it knows it should have looked away long ago.

The long, unedited takes look like master shots, or even just raw footage. It becomes somewhat hypnotic, dulling the senses to the dull screen story. It feels like we are just blankly staring into space, completely unaware of what is happening, but too bored to even look away. (Is that what the cinematographer felt?) It's like we are carrying on a dull conversation with someone, and that someone refuses to break eye contact, like they are waiting for us to suddenly become interested in the proceedings. A few close-ups were needed to bring out more detail, in the settings and performances, but as it is, it seems like the filmmakers couldn't even bother to do much editing.

The set designs and costumes all look good, but that cannot support the entire movie on its own. The film could have benefited (slightly) from on-location photography, but everything was filmed on soundstages in California.

Starts slowly, but then it looks as though it may get going and become interesting, but then it fizzles away, all within its first half hour. It doesn't really even have Hitchcock's usual sense of humour to liven the proceedings. A complete waste. Probably one of the few Hitchcock films that I could not sit through a second time.
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An acceptable melodrama but sadly not much more
bob the moo5 July 2006
It is 1831 and Irishman Charles Adare travels to the forming country of Australia with his cousin who is taking up the position of Governor. Seeking his fortune, Adare settles with "bad company" when he meets the former criminal-made-good, Flusky and accepts an invitation to his home. When Adare meets Flusky's wife he remembers her as a child growing up in Ireland. However it appears that "Lady" Flusky is disliked an avoided by her peers because she is an alcoholic and her own house is run by maid Milly while she hides in the corners. Adare's attempts to get Henrietta to return to her former self causes tensions and buried secrets to be unearthed.

I leave the debate over whether this is Hitchcock's worst film to those that debate such things and try to list everything – comparing apples and potatoes seemingly for the sake of it. As surprising as it may be, I'm not one of those but I can understand why this film has been labelled such by others because it is surprisingly run-of-the-mill for that great director. The story is soapy etc on the surface but it had great dark potential with so many threads and emotions floating around. It is surprising then that none of them are made more of and the film just sticks with the genre by becoming nothing more than an acceptable period melodrama. There is still just about enough about it to make you remember that this was from Hitchcock but I was disappointed by how straight-down-the-line it actually was in the end. The direction is still good though, with nice camera movements and shots, and the sets are colourful enough to fit the genre (if not the spirit of birthing Australia).

The cast try hard but nobody can lift the material all by themselves. To his credit, Cotton tries hard with a brooding and dark performance but he can't do it alone. Bergman is good and could have done wonders with a much more complex character, in the end what she has to deliver is nothing special and just melodrama. I didn't care for Wilding; his performance wasn't up to much and I dn't think he eld his own that well alongside Cotton and Bergman. Support from Parker and Leighton is solid but they aren't given that much to do.

Overall then this is a serviceable enough melodrama but it is easy to see why fans of Hitchcock would be forgiven for expecting more to have been made of it. The cast is good and the potential is there in the story but, aside from a steady hand and a few interesting touches, this is really just a genre melodrama that could have been more than it was.
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Under Capricorn
I_John_Barrymore_I12 September 2007
This is one of Hitchcock's very best films.

1831: Irishman Charles Adare arrives in Australia to make his fortune, and soon hooks up with Sam Flusky, a wealthy landowner with a shady past and a business proposition. Ignoring the orders of his cousin, a local Governor, Charles continues to associate with Flusky and his alcoholic wife Henrietta, who was a friend of Charles' sister many years ago back in Ireland.

The long takes the film is composed of are often masterful. Whereas his previous film Rope felt like a gimmicky experiment (albeit a successful one), here the technique is perfected, and actually serves a purpose. It widens the scope to allow the actors room to deliver fine performances, and to exploit the lavish sets. It also serves to narrow the scope, either to focus attention or withhold crucial information until the last moment (it's especially effective at these two). This focusing/concealing also adds to the sense of Bergman's isolation and entrapment in her environment, and allows for some of the film's best shots.

I'm not a fan of Jack Cardiff, but his colour cinematography is considerably less jarring here than in his Powell-Pressburger outings, and although it does take a while to adjust the eyes, it's perfectly suited to the mood and setting.

Ingrid Bergman delivers what I consider to be her best performance. Henrietta is frail and very vulnerable - a pathetic creature. Yet the strength and dignity that she once possessed is glimpsed at the outset, and gradually comes to the fore without ever completely displacing that vulnerability.

Joseph Cotten likewise does an excellent job. His crippling inferiority complex dictates everything he does, and it's where the film gleans much of its drama. In his own way he's equally as pathetic as Henrietta; trapped in a different kind of mental prison. Sometimes he's unaware of his cruelty, believing himself to be doing the right thing; at others it's as if he can't help himself. He's a man who constantly tries to do good things, yet at every turn he's thwarted either by his own secret past, or his fear of that past. For a man so ostensibly powerful he's easy to knock down, and his reaction to these setbacks just reinforces his own negative perception of himself. This conflict is written on his every gesture and expression.

Michael Wilding's performance as Charles is less technically brilliant, but as the carefree, opportunistic cad who sees in Henrietta the chance to do an act of great kindness he's wonderful. There is great humanity in all three leads, but it's most overt and infectious in Wilding.
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Extravagant Failure
LeonLouisRicci4 July 2013
Viewers who admire Costume Dramas and Stage Plays are likely to give this Hitchcock Film a pass or maybe even apply accolades. But, in truth, this is really a bore and a chore to get through.

It is talky and purposely static in its composition of long takes, for what, who knows. It does pick up somewhat in the final third but by then snoozing Audiences will most likely not notice. It contains stiff performances and has a dull delivery and very slow pacing.

Its only appeal is its controversy. Fans of the Director can squabble, and the French gave us their opinion that it is one of the best Films ever made (say what?), and it does have enough curious elements to make it worth one viewing.

But be prepared for a long two hours and to top it off, most prints are faded and the glorious Technicolor that some are seeking remains lost in the Forties. So give it a go if you must, but no matter the talent involved it still remains a rather extravagant failure.
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Underwhelming "Capricorn"
marissas757 February 2007
An oddball in Hitchcock's filmography, "Under Capricorn" has inspired scoffing detractors and passionate defenders over the years. Even though it's a melodrama about living with guilt rather than a typical Hitchcock suspense thriller, I was prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt. After all, there's nothing inherently foolish about the subject matter, and at least Hitchcock is still exploring guilt, one of his favorite themes. Setting the movie in Australia during the penal-colony era lends a great potential for danger and drama—which it fails to exploit. Instead, "Under Capricorn" is a sedate, weighty "costume piece." Though the acting is good and there are some gorgeous images, these ultimately don't mean much because there isn't enough of a reason to care about the characters and story.

The problems start with the character of Charles Adare (Michael Wilding), a young man who comes to Australia to seek his fortune. He's the type of guy who'd make good comic relief but isn't suited to be the protagonist of a movie: a lazy, cheery, empty-headed aristocrat. Through Charles, we get introduced to some more interesting people: ex-convict Sam Flusky (Joseph Cotten) and his drunken, self-loathing wife Henrietta (Ingrid Bergman). Charles realizes that he knew Henrietta during childhood and tries to rehabilitate her, which causes long-repressed secrets and emotions to come to the surface. But since none of the characters initially engages our sympathy—Sam is brusque, Charles is a lightweight, and Henrietta is a mess—it's difficult to care about any of this.

Hitchcock experimented with long takes in this movie, most notably an unbroken 8-minute- long monologue where Henrietta finally divulges her guilty secret. In one sense, this is the high point of the movie: a chance to marvel at Bergman's talent as she cycles through her emotional range without the camera ever cutting away. But in another sense, this scene displays everything that's wrong with "Under Capricorn." Henrietta's story is full of exciting passion and violence, but none of that emotion shows up during the rest of the movie. And the performers (including Bergman, Cotten, and Margaret Leighton, who plays a sinister maid) are at their best during their long monologues, not when they interact with one another.

"Under Capricorn" is not a horrible movie, just a dull one, so if you're curious about this anomaly in Hitchcock's catalog, there's no harm in spending two hours watching it. But, certainly, this movie would be forgotten today if anyone else had directed it.
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pgs-116 September 2002
UNDER CAPRICORN has always been dismissed, as Hitchcocks failure nr.1. Its not true (none of his film was failures) Hitchcock made a lot of masterpieces, therefore even a good film by him, would be dismissed. UC is a very strange Hitchcock film, but beautiful and interesting. Ingrid Bergman, who was briliant in NOTORIOUS and SPELLBOUND is not good in the leading role (she was said to be unconfortable under the shooting). Cotten is best, a very underrated actor. Its not one of Hitch masterpieces, but less can do it. 7/10
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Under Whelming
wes-connors30 May 2012
In 1831 Australia, Irish businessman Michael Wilding (as Charles Adare) accepts a dinner invitation from now-wealthy emancipated ex-prisoner Joseph Cotten (as Sam Flusky). Odd things happen when director Alfred Hitchcock maneuvers Mr. Wilding into Mr. Cotten's mansion upon arrival, and all the male guests claim their wives are unable to attend due to various illnesses. Even the dinner hostess is said to be under the weather. However, she shows up unexpectedly in the form of Ingrid Bergman (as Henrietta "Hattie" Flusky). Drunk or not, Ms. Bergman recognizes Wilding as a childhood friend. He stays on, and the three uncover old secrets. As maid Milly, Margaret Leighton manages to milk something out of her part, but nobody can save this story from terminal dullness.

**** Under Capricorn (9/8/49) Alfred Hitchcock ~ Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Michael Wilding, Margaret Leighton
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The Master Of Suspense Tries His Hand at Melodrama
elevenangrymen20 May 2012
Under Capricorn is not Hitchcock's best film (Rear Window), nor is it his worst film (Topaz). It falls somewhere in the middle. It is, I believe, an experiment. Hitchcock was well established as a master director by 1949. So why would he abandon familiar territory to make an ordinary melodrama. I believe I can sum it up in two words: Ingrid Bergman.

The film is set in 1831, in Australia. It focuses on Michael Wilding's Charles Adare. He is a sly young Irishman set to make his fortune down under. His relative is the Governor, so he is rather upper class. He has a chance encounter with Joseph Cotten's Sam Flusky. Cotten takes him under his wing, proposing a strange business plan and inviting Wilding to his house for dinner. The Governor disapproves. Flusky is an ex-convict, not someone Wilding should be seen with. Nevertheless Wilding attends the dinner and discovers Cotten's "crazy" wife is an old friend from the old country. The wife is played by Ingrid Bergman. Wilding strikes up a friendship with Cotten and decides to try and help Bergman.

The film itself is nothing special. Bergman overacts, Cotten underacts and Wilding is simply annoying. The direction seems sloppy, especially for Hitchcock. The whole film seems rather unsure. I caught it one afternoon on TCM and the quality was terrible. The color was faded and the sound would pop and crackle. Being a devout Hitchcock fan, I was horribly disappointed. I wondered why it was made, and then I realized. As soon as Bergman is introduced, the film switches gears, and instead of focusing on Wilding, the film is all about Bergman. I believe Hitchcock made the film for Bergman. When you watch Spellbound and Notorious, you can tell that Bergman is generally the focus of the camera, it keeps drifting to her. Sometimes it works, but not in this case.

That's not to say the film doesn't have it's good points. Margaret Leighton is very good as Milly, the maid who's madly in love with Cotten, and will do anything to have him. The cinematography is average, but not bad. The sets are very nice, and nicely constructed. Sadly however, that is the extent of the films good points. Bergman is, as always beautiful, but she seems unfocused and distracted. She compensates by overacting. Cotten looks plain silly in his period clothes, and compensates for being bored in the role, by being bored on screen. Wilding's character is boring, and always delivers his lines in the same self-satisfied voice.

Overall, it's not bad, it's just not very good.
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The worst Hitchcock I have ever watched .....
PimpinAinttEasy7 November 2013
Dear Alfred Hitchcock,

My god man! I never thought you could make such tedious melodramatic crap. Ingrid Bergman hams it up as Lady Henrietta Flusky. I have never wished for the quick death of such a beautiful actress. Even a strong cast comprising Joseph Cotten and Michael Wilding cannot save this one. The plot is so convoluted, it should have stayed a play and never been made into a film. This is by far your worst film.

If it wasn't for the beautiful and painting like quality of some of the visuals, I would have rated this a 1 on 10. And Joseph Cotten does put in a decent performance.

Best Regards, Pimpin.
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Technically interesting but bad movie
SnoopyStyle29 August 2014
It's 1831, there's a new governor of Australia. His second cousin Charles Adare (Michael Wilding) accompanies him on his new post. He meets powerful landowner and ex-convict Sam Flusky (Joseph Cotten) who worked hard to get where he is now. Charles is eager to make his own fortune and Sam offers him an opportunity to buy some land. Flusky's wife Henrietta (Ingrid Bergman) is an alcoholic bordering on madness in the face of her cold-hearted husband.

Director Alfred Hitchcock is doing long uncut scenes again but this time, it lacks the excitement of something interesting. It's definitely not the crowd pleasing thrillers that he's known for. This is more of a costume drama. There are some interesting camera movements but that's all the audience can hold onto. It's not that the camera movements improve the movie. It's just interesting technically. The movie is a bad costume drama reminiscent of old British translations of stage plays. The lack of cuts make it hard to concentrate. In Rope, there was far fewer characters. This is just an unfocused run-on sentence. The best compliment I can make about this movie is that it's a failed experiment.
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Very attractive to watch!
JohnHowardReid2 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Filmed on an expansive budget, Under Capricorn has everything going for it except its script - a trite magazine story with soap opera characters indulging in lots of talk and dissension which involves very little action and which all comes to a ridiculously facile conclusion.

Admittedly, it has all the gothic trappings of Rebecca (which is really a costume picture in modern dress), Great Expectations and Gaslight, but unfortunately the result is just plain boring. However, the credits are pretty wonderful. The film is always very attractive to watch with its fluid camera movement, long takes, stunning costumes (by Roger Furse), colorful sets and adroit cinematography (how about that long take in the middle of which Wilding takes off his coat and puts it behind the window-pane to show Bergman her reflection?). And Addinsell's music score shimmers with pleasing atmosphere.

The players are very agreeable too. Michael Wilding with his odd air of hesitant confidence, has always struck me as an amiable and capable actor, and here he has a role well-measured to his talents. Ingrid Bergman is also ideally cast (although she doesn't maintain her Irish accent much past her most effective introductory scene about 30 minutes into the film). In an equally difficult role, Joseph Gotten manages a reasonable conviction and is given solid support by players like Cecil Parker and Dennis O'Dea.

My one complaint against the acting is that Margaret Leighton's portrait of the sinister housekeeper is somewhat exaggerated, lacking the slyness someone like Judith Anderson or Gale Sondergaard would have brought to the part.
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Hitchcock's overlong and emotionally intriguing costume drama about family secrets and skeletons in the cupboard
ma-cortes12 January 2017
It describes the aristocratic Irish lass Lady Henrietta Flusky (Ingrid Bergman miscasting as Irish girl)'s disastrous marriage to rakish stable-hand , an ex-inmate called Flusky (Joseph Cotten) banished Australia . When it takes place a tragic event , she follows her convict hubby out to 1830s Australia . Then , she turns to drink , becoming alcoholic , perhaps because of his neglect husband . When the governor's (Cecil Parker) nephew Hon. Charles Adare (Michael Wilding) visits them , he meets her on a bad situation , but he suspects she is being poisoned .

This is an ineffably romantic picture adapted from the Helen Simpson novel with echoes of ¨Rebecca¨ and ¨Suspicion¨ ; it packs tension , thrills , suspense , plot twists involving family skeleton and intense drama . This is an unexciting Hitch film in which Alfred even had the star of those two big Forties successes , ¨Spellbound¨ and ¨Notorious¨ , the great actress Ingrid Bergman playing with him again . The poignant romanticism that includes the suspenseful screenplay contains such surefire Alfred elements as the dominant housekeeper similarly to ¨Judith Anderson's Rebecca¨ , the skeleton in the cupboard and the confession of guilt towards the final . Here Alfred cast around in vain for another major success ; however , it was a real flop at box office . The movie , nevertheless , maintains a certain brightness , brilliance and elegance thanks to sweeping and overlong takes . Passable interpretation from the protagonist trio , such as Ingrid Bergman as the unsettling lady , Joseph Cotten as a lower-class man convicted of murder who is deported Australia where he makes fortune and Michael Wilding as an impulsive young becomes involved with the strange marriage . But Margaret Leighton took the acting honor to play the astute housekeeper . The film also displays expensive gowns , nice production design and glimmer cinematography in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff . It was remade in 1982 ¨Under Capricorn¨ an Autralian remake by Rod Hardy with Lisa Harrow , Julia Blake , Catherine Lynch .

After ¨39 steps¨ and ¨Jamaica Inn¨ Hitchcock was encouraged to go to America and promptly shot his first work in Hollywood hired by the great producer David O'Selznick , as he won Oscar to best picture for his first film there , titled ¨Rebeca¨ , being Hitchcock's first great American success in a classic story with a love story and suspense . Later , R.K.O , Radio Pictures Inc offered him the direction of ¨Suspicion¨ with Gary Grant and Joan Fontaine . Subsequently , he made ¨Notorious¨ and this slow-moving ¨Under Capricorn¨ , but , as he even admitted himself , basic mistakes were made in the preparation of the film . The motion picture is indispensable watching for Hithcock lovers , though it is definitely a lesser Alfred film as well as mite predictable , and rather verbose ; achieving a mediocre impact on his audience .
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Margaret Leighton's performance rivals Judith Anderson's in Rebecca (1940)
jacobs-greenwood6 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I think it's a shame that this Alfred Hitchcock film was such a bomb at the box office, and with critics, if only for the reason that few may have seen Margaret Leighton's performance as Milly, the Flusky family's maid. She gives the character an evilness with even more depth that Judith Anderson's "Mrs. Danvers" (recognized as #31 villain by the American Film Institute) in Rebecca (1940). I say this because, as much as I love Anderson's character, the dialogue given Leighton's character is more complex, meaning the actress cannot rely as much on brooding scowls as Anderson did, which may not have been as sinister if that film, like this one, was in color.

By the way, the Technicolor in this one (Hitchcock's second) makes the men's lipstick a bit too apparent. In any case, overall, the film is not a complete disappointment either, even though a costume drama is one of the last genres one would expect the "Master of Suspense" to direct.

Adapted for the screen by actor Hume Cronyn, James Bridie wrote the screenplay from the novel by Helen Simpson, the film contains little intrigue, relative to the director's other more famous films. The central issue seems to be Mrs. Flusky's behavior, and the reasons for it; she's played by Ingrid Bergman (overacting, just a bit). Joseph Cotten (solid, as usual) plays her brooding husband Sam, a successful businessman who was once a convict, sentenced to serve seven years in prison in Australia, where the film is set.

The film takes place many years later, and begins when Charles Adare (Michael Wilding, who seems perfect for the role) follows his uncle (Cecil Parker) to the continent; his uncle has just been appointed the Governor of the British Colony. So, Adare hopes to make his fortune in the "new" land, something virtually every young man with ambition, and a willingness to work hard, has been able to achieve. Unfortunately, Adare doesn't intend to employ the latter method, hence he makes an easy acquaintance of Sam Flusky, who wants to use the penniless Adare to purchase some land, legally if not ethically for his own purposes.

Adare is not quite sure at first where he's heard Flusky's name before, but once he's invited to dinner, and meets his wife, he realizes why. She used to be Lady Henrietta, a woman who left home in scandal, having married her father's groom, Sam, who was convicted for murdering her brother. Henrietta followed him to Australia where she endured a squalid existence waiting for him to serve out his term.

When Adare first meets Henrietta, she's a drunk, kept that way by another convict, now a maid who runs the household, named Milly (Leighton). Evidently, Henrietta suffered quite a bit while Sam was in prison such that Milly, with designs on the head of the household herself, has been able to comfort the Lady with drink such that Henrietta thinks of Milly as her friend. Ignorant of Milly's motivations, Sam believes this to be true as well, as does Adare, at least initially.

Shocked by what he sees of the former Lady, and young enough to remember the beautiful woman that she once was, Adare leaps at the opportunity, provided by Sam, to help Henrietta, in hopes that she can return to her old self. And she does, with Adare's help, make a comeback such that she feels confident enough to run the household and even return to society and social engagements.

It's at this point, however, that Milly, who'd been let go, returns coincidentally to work her magic on her former employer Sam. Using Adare's name and insinuating a relationship which doesn't exist between Henrietta and he, she manipulates Sam into a jealousy that ruins his wife's, and his, relationship with the Governor at a social event. Adare had forged an invitation for them (his uncle had "disowned" him per his relationship with the ex-con Sam) and had just succeeded in a Cinderella-like reception for the "restored" Lady Henrietta when Sam arrives in somewhat of a rage.

Subsequently, the truth of Sam's relationship with Henrietta comes out, and the drama's final third feels a bit "trumped up" to lengthen the story (even though it's during this that we learn the full extent of Milly's evil deeds).
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Lovely Movie
shonayss18 October 2016
It was an enjoyable movie but I like the non-typical Hitchcock films.

Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotton are wonderful and I really like Michael Wilding (he was great in Stage Fright also).

This film was a little reminiscent of Gaslight (when I was a kid I thought Gaslight was a Hitchcock film) I really don't know why they say typical Hitchcock anyway, his films are really from one end of the spectrum to the other.

It was his only period piece so I was curious to see it I really liked this film and hope more people will give it a try, In my humble opinion his last 2 movies were the worst.
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atypical Hitchcock movie
Lee Eisenberg3 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
When we think of Alfred Hitchcock, we think of suspense: murders in showers, avian attacks, etc. "Under Capricorn" is a different turn for the Sultan of Suspense. Focusing on a love triangle in 1800s Australia, the emphasis is on the relationships between the characters, especially between a new arrival (Michael Wilding) from Ireland and the unhappy wife (Ingrid Bergman) of a businessman (Joseph Cotten). The plot does have a hint of "The Postman Always Rings Twice" but goes in its own direction. While watching the movie I didn't catch Hitch's cameo, which turned out to be more subtle than his more famous ones.

The movie's strength lies in Bergman's and Cotten's characters. They play their roles forcefully enough to shock the audience, even though there's minimal suspense. There's a scene with a shrunken head that looks to me as if it may have inspired the notorious horse scene in "The Godfather". In the end I wouldn't call this one of Hitch's greatest movies, but still worth a watch.
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