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Under Capricorn (1949) tonight 1-19-12


FredCDobbs
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Its been a long, long time since I saw *Under Capricorn* on tv, maybe it was on TCM or even the "old" AMC. From what I can remember it was a decent film, maybe a little tedious, like some say about *Vertigo* . I do believe some of the low reviews of this film come from its comparison to other Hitchcock films. "Its a poor Hitchcock film, but still better than the average film" kind of thing. I have read that Hitch and Ingrid had some differences of opinion on some of her scenes, that may had led to a cooling of their working relationship, along with Ingrid's "scandal" of the time.

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This was a favorite of some of Hitchcock's French admirers. If you ever read *Le Cid* or other plays of Corneille, the noble behavior by the three main characters at the end of *Under Capricorn* is rather similar, which to me accounts for their enthusiasm.

 

If you saw the documentary on Jack Cardiff, it tells how he managed the tracking shot into Ingrid Bergman's bedroom. A very creative solution.

 

Although most of us won't think this is one of Hitchcock's best, I am very pleased that TCM has been able to show it, especially in the context of this tribute to Jack Cardiff.

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You'd think that if they were highlighting the work of a cinematographer, they'd go to the trouble of identifying good prints to show them off to thier best advantage. This looks and sounds like a second or third generation print to me. And not well color-balanced, either. Even the warm tones look blue.

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This was a very ordinary movie. It's not surprising it's not well known. All the usual techniques Hitchcock ordinarily uses to unfold the plot come off here as trying too hard to make something work. Ingrid Bergman does her best, and she makes a good show sometimes, but there's just too little to work with.

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I can watch this film because I like the two stars (Joseph Cotten and Ingrid, who looks fabulous as always) but the storyline really drags along. It has some elements of Rebecca and Gaslight in it , you know there is some secret backstory that is haunting the characters but there's not much suspense build up and the ending just doesn't satisfy me very much. I guess we Americans need a little more action and fast pace, like North By Northwest :)

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Yeah, what was the point of this movie?

 

It was like watching Ingrid and Joseph's characters from Gaslight getting married and setting up house. Again, Bergman is terrific, but again- she's asked to play a character who is so aggravating (and miles away from the sensibilities of today) that you just want to grab her and shake her.

 

And it's not a good example of Cardiff's work- the colors were blah and I agree with those who've noted that there was a weird blue hue cast over the whole thing that made it look dated and cheap.

 

It has the be the least Hitchcockian Hitchcock film I've ever seen- the lack of visual flair, the blunt edits- the lack of effective music.

 

Big "meh."

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I caught the opening narration as being done by Edmond O'Brien.

 

As for the print, it looks like at some point King World acquired a PAL transfer of a 35mm print. The ghosting was consistent with frame rate conversion. The prints King World used to have were gosh-awful and completely unusable. Like the Wanger Universals, UNDER CAPRICORN went to Four Star International in the 60's and then to Leo Gutman. King World (now Paramount) wound up with the films, though seldom getting custody of original negatives.

 

The youtube print looks like a gorgeous print and transfer. Definitely not the same print as the King World. It is probably available on a Region 2 DVD.

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Hitch himself admitted this was in large part a vanity project. It was

his second (I think) film as an independent producer and he felt that getting

Ingrid Bergman to star in it was quite a personal coup. He also didn't

like the script all that much. It didn't turn out like he had hoped and he

never made another costume drama. I think Sir Alfred is allowed at least

one screw-up.

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I didn't like the movie and turned it off. As you noted the color was real bad (I don't know if that was intended or it was just a washed out version), Bergman's character was very annoying and Cotton just didn't fit his role. To me he looked like a guy from the 20th century just wearing silly clothing.

 

 

 

 

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