Come join the live tweet pleasures this Labor Day Weekend with a #BNoirDetour + #HitchGoesHollywood double header featuring two of the directing Big Boys: Welles and Hitchcock:
THE STRANGER (1946) #BNoirDetour 9pm ET
At 9pm ET, #BNoirDetour invites you to follow the trail of an infamous Nazi in a noir thriller directed by and starring Orson Welles.
Edward G. Robinson is Wilson, of the War Crimes Commission, who seeks one Franz Kindler, a Holocaust mastermind, whose German name evokes both Death Camp crematoria and the murder of children. Wilson’s search brings him to a New England town where he meets Professor Charles Rankin (Welles), a moody, clock-obsessed main character, and his astonishingly innocent (clueless?) wife, Mary (Loretta Young).
After the murder of Kindler’s former comrade (Konstanin Shayne, known to Hitchcock fans as Pop Leibel in Vertigo), Wilson must follow only the clue that Kindler was fascinated with antique clocks. By no means a whodunit, the power of The Stranger is watching the trap tighten and the former Nazi suffer.
If the plot, characters, and noir style don’t grab you, Welles’ mustache surely will.
JAMAICA INN (1939) #HitchGoesHollywood 11pm ET
Introduction by host @MikeShayne:
The last film we enjoyed together in the #HitchGoesHollywood series, The Lady Vanishes, was Hitchcock’s most successful to date — both financially and critically. His work on the film was recognized with a New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director. I’m sure the award was very lonely on Hitch’s mantle. The success of The Lady Vanishes motivated David O. Selznick to get Hitch under contract and bring him to Hollywood.
While the negotiations were being handled, Hitchcock agreed to fulfill a promise to direct a movie for his friend Charles Laughton. Of course, Hitchcock’s motives were not totally altruistic. Laughton had acquired the rights to the Daphne du Maurier novel Jamaica Inn. And this interested Hitchcock.
The last film Hitchcock made before moving to Hollywood is the selection for this edition of #HitchGoesHollywood — Jamaica Inn (1939).
“Irish orphan girl Mary is sent to stay with Aunt Patience and Uncle Joss in Cornwall. Joss is the landlord of Jamaica Inn and also the head of a gang of pirates who lure ships to their doom on the rocky coast. Mary soon finds herself in trouble when she discovers the truth.” – IMDB
Hitchcock was friends with a gentleman named Gerald du Maurier. Gerald was a famous and respected stage actor. He was also a proud father who never missed the opportunity to show off the literary pursuits of his daughter, Daphne. As a family friend, Gerald had given Hitchcock an advance copy of his daughter’s next novel. Hitchcock devoured Rebecca in one sitting.
Upon finishing the novel, Hitch sent a telegram to Selznick informing him that, upon successful completion of their contract negotiations, Hitch would make Rebecca as his first Selznick picture. Charles Laughton was one of the many to hear the rumblings of Hitch’s interest in adapting a du Maurier novel. Laughton purchased the rights to her Jamaica Inn. Although Hitchcock was never too fond of the story, he agreed to direct the picture — probably to keep Daphne close at hand until Rebecca could be secured.
Laughton and Hitchcock did not work well together. Laughton, as producer, constantly rewrote Hitchcock’s script to give himself more screen time. In fact, this causes the reveal of Laughton as the evil ringleader to happen way earlier than Hitchcock would have liked, virtually killing the potential suspense.
“Jamaica Inn was an absurd thing to undertake. I made the picture and, although it became a box-office hit, I’m still unhappy over it,” Hitch said of his first attempt at an adaptation of a Daphne du Maurier tale. Hitchcock was not proud of the finished picture. In fact, he disliked it so much that he doesn’t even have a cameo. His next two du Maurier pictures, Rebecca and The Birds, more than make up for this initial misstep.
Jamaica Inn is universally ranked as one of Hitchcock’s lesser films. We, as an audience, take that to mean the picture has no redeeming qualities, which is not the case. The film fits more into the action genre than the Hitchcockian thriller. As Hitch’s last film in England and first du Maurier adaptation, it fully earns its place in our #HitchGoesHollywood series. Besides, it IS Hitchcock. Bad Hitchcock is like bad sex…it’s still pretty good.
Summer’s over. The days are beginning to get shorter. It’s time to catch up on some movies. You should stay in and join me Sunday night at 11 pm EST as we begin to wind down our #HitchGoesHollywood journey together. Trade in your Pirates of the Caribbean for the Pirates of Cornwall!