Under Capricorn

1949

Alfred Hitchcock
Director
Transatlantic Pictures
Production Company
Warner Brothers
Distributor

In 1831 Australia, new arrival Wilding is befriended by local businessman Cotten, who happens to have an alcoholic wife (Bergman) that Wilding knew as a youth in Ireland. His entry into their household upsets the balance of power and unleashes hidden desires and old secrets.

Very interesting but flawed melodrama, a sort of Brontë-DuMaurier mash-up from the dark side of the moon, is one of Hitchcock's least known films, mostly for reasons outside his control. Probably the audiences of the day were disappointed to find both a historical drama in place of the expected thriller, as well as the glamourous Bergman playing an alcoholic and probably mentally disturbed figure. And certainly such factors as the bad press surrounding Bergman's love affair with director Roberto Rossellini did not help the film's chances at success. Perhaps one of the most damaging factors is the series of quite shoddy video releases it has seen over the years, almost all of which are muddy travesties of the original Technicolor. Oddly enough, the failure of Under Capricorn led Hitchcock out of his experimental phase into a more commercial one, which saw him win his greatest acclaim.

The cast is all excellent, esepcially Cotten, though one wonders what the film would be like with Robert Newton (Hitchcock's first choice) in the role. Margaret Leighton is also notable; she is really the only sympathetic character, much more so than Cotten's bullheaded fool or the selfish, childish upper-class twits embodied by Wilding and Bergman. The contrived happy ending doesn't ring true with the tone of the rest of the film, and makes the whole thing feel, in the end, like a second-rate Gainsborough drama.

Perhaps not the greatest Hitchcock film, as Cahiers du Cinéma would have it, but certainly not the least of his films, as seems to be the general consensus. A dark and mediatative romance that will reward those who have the patience to allow its atmosphere to surround them.

-Dave W.


Under Capricorn
8th October 1949
Cinema



117 mins
1.37:1



HyperLink
"
Ingrid Bergman
Lady Henrietta "Hattie" Flusky
Joseph Cotten
Samson "Sam" Flusky
Michael Wilding
Hon. Charles Adare
Margaret Leighton
Milly
Cecil Parker
The Governor
(Major General Sir Richard Blake)
Denis O'Dea
Mr. Corrigan
Jack Watling
Winter
Harcourt Williams
The Coachman
John Ruddock
Cedric Potter
Bill Shine
Mr. Banks
Victor Lucas
The Rev. Smiley
Ronald Adam
Mr. Rigg
Francis De Wolff
Major Wilkins
G.H. Mulcaster
Dr. Macallister
Olive Sloane
Sal
Maureen Delaney
Flo
Julia Lang
Susan
Betty McDermott
Martha
Edmond O'Brien
Opening Narrator
(uncredited)
Unknown
Soldier at Governor's Reception
(uncredited)
Alfred Hitchcock
Man at Governor's Reception
Man on Steps of Government House
(uncredited)
Richard Turner
Potter's Clerk
(uncredited)
Lloyd Pearson
Lands Office Agent (uncredited)
Martin Benson
Man with Shrunken Head
(uncredited)
Unknown
Flusky's Groom
(uncredited)
Ivor Barry
First Servant in Government House
(uncredited)
Ronnie Hill
Second Servant in Government House
(uncredited)
David Keir
Man Checking Invitations at Ball
(uncredited)
Unknown
Man Checking Invitations at Ball
(uncredited)
Ronnie Stevens
Officer at Ball
(uncredited)
Unknown
Lady at Ball
(uncredited)
Unknown
Lady at Ball
(uncredited)
Unknown
Gentleman at Ball
(uncredited)
Roderick Lovell
Aide-de-Camp at Ball
(uncredited)
Unknown
Officer at Ball
(uncredited)
Unknown
Officer at Ball
(uncredited)
Unknown
Mrs. Rigg (uncredited)
Unknown
Nurse (uncredited)
Unknown
Corrigan's Assistant
(uncredited)
Unknown
Official with Warrant
(uncredited)
Unknown
Soldier Arresting Flusky
(uncredited)
Unknown
Man at Wharf
(uncredited)

Lord Heath: Notes & Screenshots
Dave Wright: Revised Screencaps & Notes