With Under Capricorn, Hitchcock decides to tackle another period drama; this time set in 1831 Australia. The film despite being better funded than his previous period dramas Waltzes from Vienna and Juno & the Paycock suffers from many of the same flaws.

 

WHAT HAPPENED?
When an Irishman Charles Adare (Michael Wilding) arrives in Australia he meets the lavishly wealthy ex-convict Flusky (Joseph Cotten) who is married to the alcoholic and insane ‘Hattie’ (Ingrid Bergman). Adare soon becomes embroiled in a romance with Hattie and secrets connecting the pasts of all three are soon discovered.

 

THE GOOD

The sets of the film are very good and almost painting like. The exterior painted sunsets in particular are magnificent to look at in a nostalgic fashion; with the use of colour really bringing the production design to a level unseen in a Hitch film thus far.

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There are also several moments of good tension for example the use of shrunken head or the tension built up over some ruby’s; however these moments of visual storytelling are limited in a film which is very dialogue heavy.

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THE BAD

Much like in Juno & The Paycock, Hitch for some reasons seems to believe he can escape with having the actors talk about things that are uninteresting for long periods of time. Much of the film contains characters speaking of the past in well-written albeit uninteresting dialogue. This goes on and on to the extent where one was wishing for a flashback as the events of ten years ago seem a whole lot more interesting compared to the time in which the story is set. 

The film does pick up a little towards the end but never quite escapes from its heavy talk based nature and is generally a bore.

CAMEO O’CLOCK
There are two cameos by Hitchcock in this film, neither particularly obvious. The first comes at the very start when Hitchcock watches a speech by the new general.

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The second comes about 10 minutes later as Hitchcock stands on the steps to the courthouse.

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FINAL THOUGHTS

Good sets and costumes do not make a good film and Under Capricorn is an example of such. It may look good but the lack of a good story and far too much dialogue are the downfall of this film making it one the worst I have seen in this challenge. 2 Hitchs.

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