Under Capricorn (1949) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: 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… Runtime: 117 min Release Date: 08 Oct 1949
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 <more>
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.
An lesser-known and underrated Hitchcock masterpiece! (by George-n-Kansas)
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_ , <more>
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!
Love this movie - saw it for the first time (by calgal84)
I am a Hitchcock fan and have never watched this film, as it has been thoroughly panned.I just saw this film for the first time today. It is a new favorite. Joseph Cotten, Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding are lovely!!!! A wonderful Gothic romance. I don't care if it's one Hitchcock's most disliked films. No, it is not one of his typical suspense movies but the acting is wonderful and it is a sweet romance with a Gothic twist.The romance between Ingrid Bergman and her husband, played by Joseph Cotten has all the problems of married people who have sacrificed a lot and have lost <more>
each other. The new love, with Michael Wilding saves her and yet, she is still tied to her husband. The evil of Millie, played by Margaret Leighton, is quietly sinister and, yet, almost sympathetic. I am so glad I took the time to watch this film. As long as you go into watching this film for what it is, you will not be disappointed.
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 <more>
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.
Perhaps THE most underrated movie of the 20th century! (by bragant)
A critical and commercial disaster, UNDER CAPRICORN remains burdened with the reputation of being the worst film Hitchcock ever directed. Hitchcock didn't help by publicly dismissing the film in his famous interviews with Truffaut, noting that it was such a failure that the money men repossessed the negative. Even the film's own stars had nothing good to say about it - Joseph Cotten nicknamed it "Under Crap-ricorn," while Ingrid Bergman fought with Hitchcock during its production over her character. Furthermore, UC was cursed by bad timing - within days of its premiere, the <more>
massive scandal of Ingrid Bergman's relationship with Roberto Rossellini exploded. Bergman was condemned on the floor of the US Congress as an adulteress, and audiences stayed away from her latest release in droves. Even now, most regard UC as a "dud" - a complete misfire and one of Hitchcock's rare failures. I wish to suggest that the majority opinion on this film is totally wrong! UNDER CAPRICORN is in fact one of Hitchcock's richest, most rewarding films, in my opinion one of his very best works, ever - better than PSYCHO, better than glossy baubles like TO CATCH A THIEF or NORTH BY NORTHWEST, and MUCH better than the bloated and fatuous VERTIGO! It is true that UC is unique in Hitchcock -he had never done anything quite like this before, and would never attempt a "straight drama" again. If you are expecting a typical "Hitchcock" picture - this isn't it and you will be badly disappointed. If on the other hand you are ready for a deep emotional experience presented via a cinematic technique so audacious it will take your breath away, then see this film NOW. Set in Australia in the 1830s, the plot revolves around the marriage of former convict Sam Flusky Cotten and his wife Lady Henrietta Considine Bergman . Years earlier, Flusky was a groom on the lavish estate of Lady Henrietta's family. We are told that the pair fell deeply in love and eloped, an action which resulted in Flusky killing Lady Hetty's brother and his subsequent deportation to Australia. Now, Flusky has accumulated a huge fortune, but he cannot find acceptance in local society, not because of his past, but because of his wife. Lady Henrietta is an unstable alcoholic who stays in bed all day and is under the control of her own housekeeper, Milly Margaret Leighton , a woman with delusions of her own regarding her future with the master of the house, and some very unpleasant intentions towards her mistress...One day, Flusky meets Charles Adare Michael Wilding , a high-born Irish gentleman and former friend of Lady Henrietta, and enlists his help in curing the suffering woman. With Adare's aid, Lady Henrietta comes out of her depression, but things take a turn for the worse when Adair falls in love with her and triggers Flusky's jealous temper. Yet not all is as it seems in the Flusky house, and Lady Henrietta has a few secrets of her own...Many reviewers complain that this film is "talky," and the plot is largely driven by dialogue and conversation, but the script is so well-written and intelligent that it demands a level of attention from the viewer that most are not willing to provide, either in 1949 or today. Cotten's tormented, insecure Sam Flusky is one of the masterpieces of his career, and Bergman is astounding as Lady Henrietta. I have never seen a Hitchcock film which presented character and human motivation with such depth and insight. There are no shallow emotions, no cliché characters - each is present as a fully realized person. I was moved to tears for the entirety of the last 25 minutes of the film, and never before have I seen a Hitchcock film where the characters were so realistically written and portrayed. On another level, the film is also a critique of British colonialism and the class-system. Finally, I would like to say something about the film's technique. UC was the immediate follow-up to 1948's ROPE, in which Hitchcock used very long takes lasting up to 10 minutes to create the illusion of a story taking place in "real time." UC continues and develops this experiment, bringing the long take to a peak of development. Long takes have never been fashionable in commercial film-making, and are even less so in our current age, where frenzied MTV editing is the rule. UNDER CAPRICORN offers a very different aesthetic - some shots last for as long as 8 minutes, but Hitchcock constantly moves the camera so that the film never seems static. There are some sequences which will literally make you gasp in awe. Yet the technique is never forced or obtrusive - you might not even notice that some scenes are done entirely in one shot because the camera moves so subtly that you find yourself looking at a new composition without being aware that there has been no cut or editing. The technique gives the actors room to breathe and leaves the audience with a sense of emotional immediacy like nothing else I have ever seen - you don't just watch UNDER CAPRICORN - you LIVE it. I wish I had ignored what everybody else said about this movie and watched it for myself YEARS AGO! Don't listen to the bad reviews here - see UNDER CAPRICORN now and decide for yourself!
"Under Capricorn" is a great drama. There is plenty of suspense but, unlike most Hitchcock films, it is not a thriller. Instead, the suspense is generated by the tensions among the main characters - tensions so strong that a palpable feeling of foreboding permeates the film. In the end, however, the story is not as tragic as it might have been if one or two things had happened differently.The acting is uniformly excellent. Michael Wilding is handsome and dashing, with a generosity of spirit that is uplifting. Ingrid Bergman is wonderful as a fine lady with a tormented soul, who has <more>
fallen into alcoholism. And Joseph Cotten shines as her long-suffering, devoted husband.Visually, the film is a little disappointing. It has a washed-out look, and would probably benefit from a thorough restoration. The exterior shots are obviously paintings. But none of this matters very much, compared with the intensity of the emotions on the screen.In one respect, "Under Capricorn" is the reverse of another Hitchcock film starring Joseph Cotten. In "Shadow of a Doubt" he plays a guilty man who, at first, is thought to be innocent. In this movie, it is the exact opposite. There is also a similarity to another Hitchcock film starring Ingrid Bergman. In "Notorious", Bergman's character is essentially held prisoner by her Nazi husband, played by Claude Rains. She is liberated at the end by Cary Grant. In this film, her character is a virtual prisoner of the housekeeper, who plies her with alcohol so she will remain helpless, and she herself can be in control. This time her rescuer is Michael Wilding.
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 <more>
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.
Actually Good Hitchcock but a Victim of Bad Timing (by theowinthrop)
UNDER CAPRICORN is one of the late 1940s Hitchcock films that are pointed at as being second-rate. The general comment is that Hitchcock was bad at historical films. This is not true about UNDER CAPRICORN - it is light-years better than JAMAICA INN was. The actors, led by Joseph Cotten, Ingrid Bergman, Michael Wilding, Margaret Leighton, and Cecil Parker do very nicely in their roles. Bergman's Irish accent comes and goes, but when it comes she has the cadence of the lilt correct it is just hard to maintain it . That is really the worst to be said about her performance as Lady Henrietta <more>
Flusky. It is with Bergman that the real disaster occurred - but not her talent. Hitchcock used her in other films like NOTORIOUS and she worked well with him. But her personal life now destroyed the film's box office appeal. At the time the film was released, the Bergman - Rosellini Scandal had broken out and she had been condemned on the floor of Congress as an adulteress. Many people who though of her as a "nice" screen personality now thought of her as a hussy. They stayed away from her latest film and it was soon withdrawn from circulation.I suspect had it been made in 1948 it would have been a success, and frequently revived. It shows much influence from other Hitchcock films, and most of this is to the good. Hitch is looking at the peculiar world of early Australia as a penal colony. It is a weird situation where the British class consciousness is now expanded by the fact that most of the population is made of convicts. It is 1831, and Sir Richard Cecil Parker the new Governor has arrived. We see from the start what he has to get used to. He is shown in military redcoat and cocked hat upon arrival - and for all the pageantry, it is cut-rate pageantry at best, and Sir Richard is aware of some people in the crowd being "rowdy" shouting disrespectful comments . That's one of the problems if you make a population of have-nots: they grow stronger in number and confront the haves, which is why Australia has rarely been as loyal to Britain's policies as it's neighboring fellow Commonwealth member New Zealand.Sir Richard's cousin the Hon. Charles Adair Wilding , is approached by a local banker to see if he can be of assistance to Charles. The next day, by chance, the banker introduces Charles to a local land tycoon, the Hon. Samson Flusky Cotton . The name is familiar to Charles as his last name is to Flusky. Flusky offers Charles a chance to buy land temporarily, that Flusky can purchase later back from Charles to Charles profit. Although Sir Richard is opposed to Charles getting to know Flusky, Charles attends a dinner at Flusky's home, and finds that none of the male guests including the colony's Attorney General Corrigan Dennis O'Dea can get their wives to attend the dinner with them. Then he sees Mrs. Flusky, who he recognizes as Lady Henrietta Bergman an aristocratic neighbor from Ireland. Now Charles recalls the scandal: Flusky was Henrietta's family's groom, and they ran off together to England to marry. When confronted by her brother, Flusky shot and killed him. But the brother was likewise armed, and Flusky was not hung but transported. Lady Henrietta followed and waited for his seven year term to end. Instead when he came out the marriage was strained. It has not recovered, worsened by Henrietta's increasing alcoholism. The household is run by Milly Margaret Leighton who keeps it functioning, and apparently keeps Lady Henrietta under control.Charles by insisting on continuing the business deal with Flusky loses his contacts with his cousin as a patron. He moves in with the Fluskys, and slowly revives the dead self-reliant woman who was inside Lady Henrietta originally. But Milly is not happy about this, and keeps throwing up various snags to upset the recovery which Charles begins to notice, but not Sam . The crisis is when Charles wrangles an invitation to a social event for Sam and Henrietta, but Sam chooses not to attend but allow Charles to go . It seems headed for success, but Milly manages to make Sam become jealous about the entire situation, and make a scene at the ball. This leads to a further set of problems, that legally mess up the Fluskys and Charles.The film holds up well, and actually lacks any real "maguffin" trick like other classic Hitchcock films. A secret from the past might be the "maguffin" but it is not centralized in the plot from the start. But other aspects of Hitch's films are there. Milly is a 19th Century variant of Judith Anderson's Mrs. Danvers in REBECCA. The use of camera tricks noted in other reviews here shows the influence of ROPE's long takes in several scenes as well as some long takes on people walking through long hallways . Hitch apparently learned that the audience would only accept about a minute to a minute and a half long take, not the nine minute segments of ROPE. Bergman's long suffering physical decline here is similar to how Claude Rains tries to kill her in NOTORIOUS. I also note that besides Bergman, Cotton and Parker were former Hitchcock alumni from SHADOW OF A DOUBT and THE LADY VANISHES respectively , and Wilding would return for a second film STAGESTRUCK . Leighton never did, but she did appear in an episode on Hitchcock's television program.The story maintains one's interest until the end. It also manages to keep an eye on accuracy, such as the walking on eggshells by ex-convicts who are given early release on good behavior. The slightest suggestion of crime or disorderly conduct means a pink slip and a return to prison. It was a "wonderful" system. And the successes and pitfalls of it are shown in this good film.
Under Capricorn is not the most beloved film in the Hitchcock oeuvre. In fact, it has a pretty bad reputation. One of the stars, Joseph Cotten, deemed it "under crapricorn", The master of suspense himself wasn't pleased with it. The question is, some sixty years later, is it really all that bad?First of all, the movie stands out as an odd Hitchcock. It is a classic drama, with something of a Wuthering Heights-feel to it, set in 19th-century Australia. A story of the love between a stable-boy Cotten and an aristocratic lady Ingrid Bergman . A young penniless aristocrat gets to <more>
know them as a well-to-do married couple with odd manners and a very strange household. The lady of the house lies in bed, delirious and depressed, the man is a gloomy, jumpy character and the maid a manipulative nurse Ratched. The situation is soon turned around, but there are ghost's from the past that complicate matters, and the drama unfolds. It's not a terrific storyline, but it is interesting enough. The cast is pretty great as well, especially Bergmann and Cotten and how could they not be? . The cinematography is good, but not great. Most of the scenes exist of single shots, which is the way Hitchcock liked to shoot, of course. Very often the camera moves beautifully through the scenes and through the house. But it is not as gripping or convincing as in, say, Vertigo, where the cinematography is breathtaking. It's not really fair to judge this film for not living up to the standards of Hitchcock's best, but it doesn't anyway. In my view, the camera is always something of an extra character in Hitchcock films, adding to the suspense and the human emotions, etc. Under Capricorn lacks that extra little something.Still, most of it is very well done. The decors, the whole setting, are very convincing, even for today's standards, the acting is good, the story is OK. Eventually it is quality that you don't very often get. Check it out.