The Cohen Film Collection is proud to announce that it will bring a rediscovered classic by the Master of Suspense to Blu-ray and DVD on May 12, 2015. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1939 period adventure JAMAICA INN, featuring a towering performance by Charles Laughton and the first major role for Maureen O’Hara, has been fully restored for its 75th anniversary. The extras-filled Blu-ray and DVD will have SRPs, respectively, of $34.98 and $24.98.
Hitchcock’s visually inventive film, seen for years in substandard prints and home video releases, has been fully restored in 4K in collaboration with the British Film Institute from an archival picture negative. JAMAICA INN was Hitchcock’s last prewar film and the last from his great English period before he went to Hollywood. It was his first of three films based on the work of Daphne du Maurier, to be followed by Rebecca and The Birds.
JAMAICA INN is a dark drama set along England’s rocky Cornish coast in the 1820s, a time of lawlessness on sea and land. A newly orphaned young Irish woman, Mary (played by 18-year-old Maureen O’Hara, star of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Miracle on 34th Street and The Quiet Man), arrives at the tavern of the title, seeking her Aunt Patience (Marie Ney), who runs the inn with her husband, Joss (Leslie Banks, The Man Who Knew Too Much).
Mary soon discovers that the inn is the hideout of a gang of pirates who cause ships to crash on the reefs, then steal their cargo and kill their crews. Looking to stop this evil practice, Mary turns for help to the local magistrate, Sir Humphrey Pengallan, wickedly played by Oscar winner Charles Laughton (The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Private Life of Henry VIII, Mutiny on the Bounty). Little does she know that her efforts will lead her down a path filled with murder and betrayal.
The new 4K restoration of JAMAICA INN was shown at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, in its Cannes Classic section, and at the New York Film Festival. The film was a box-office success upon its 1939 release, with Variety citing its “superb direction” and the “colorful and sinister” Laughton. Eye on Film called it “an entertaining and surprisingly dark period drama.” In their classic 1957 book, Hitchcock: The First Forty-Four Films, future directors Eric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol write that Sir Humphrey is “admirably played by the innately and inventively prodigious Charles Laughton, in a role actors dream about.”
Also starring the great Robert Newton (Great Expectations, Treasure Island) and Emlyn Williams (I, Claudius), JAMAICA INN is a masterpiece ripe for a new wave of appreciation.
The Blu-ray and DVD of JAMAICA INN both contain the following bonus material:
- Feature-length audio commentary by critic Jeremy Arnold
- New video essay by Alfred Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto
- 2014 re-release trailer