Screen legends Ingrid Bergman (Notorious) and Joseph Cotten (Citizen Kane) star in this spellbinding melodrama from the screen's Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock! Banished for murder to Australia, Sam Flusky (Cotton) t... more »akes his victim's troubled sister, Henrietta (Bergman), as his wife. The arrival of a new governor also brings Henrietta's old friend, Adare (Michael Wilding), who tries to help her conquer the demons plaguing her life. But something mysterious is afoot; is Henrietta going insane, or is there a sinister plot at work? A gripping, atmospheric yarn in the style of Rebecca and Gaslight, this sumptuous production features some of Hitchcock's most audacious visual tricks and is now presented on DVD in a rich new Technicolor digital transfer!« less
"First off my thanks to Image for bringing this little seen Hitchcock film to DVD. I haven't seen the DVD yet so I don't know how the color hues of this late 40's film have held up. Image was a high quality Laserdisc producer and they have carried on with DVD. They have produced fifty titles for Universal and many more both for other studios and on their own. While light on extras the price, at least lately, is always fair for the product offered. Something I can't say of every DVD producer out there. "Under Capricorn" was Ingrid Bergman's last film for Hitchcock. Shot in color it does feature a Hitchcock cameo appearance in a crowd. While it does not have the flash of some of his later films, it has some moody and creepy moments as Bergman is being haunted by a jealous housekeeper. Also notable is Joseph Cotten who gives his usual excellent performance along with a nice turn by Michael Wilding. As the 1993 Sterling Video VHS release has been out of print for some time I can't wait to see this DVD. Thanks, CAL"
One of the unknown and nevertheless one of the best films of
AFN | 07/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By some thoughtless prejudices "Under Capricorn" is rejected among the people who love violence and action as an "untypical" or "tedious" film of Hitchcock which lacks for suspense and goose-flesh (Hitchcock himself most cynically and deliberately contributed to similar prejudices by his commentaries towards the public and Truffaut). In fact this film is as deep and beautiful as "Vertigo" and as terrifying and psychologically subtil as "Psycho" (these latter films seem to be some kind of a scale in valuation of all other films of Hitchcock). "Under Capricorn" is full of symbols and motives which recur in the earliest and the latest films of Hitchcock. The theme of guilt and past ("Vertigo"), the motive of being addicted to alcohol (TV-film "Poison") and the motive of the deep love between the married couple ... all these themes are combined with each other to a wonderful masterpiece of cinematic and human art. Hitchcock shows Ingrid Bergman and her rival (Margaret Leighton) with a most empathising subtility, there is a strict and mirror-like duality among the characters, everybody seems to be the exact counterpart of the other (something like a photograph and the negative). The visual quality of the film on this DVD (edited by "Image Entertainment") is, I have to admit, not as good as the quality of other well known films of Hitchcock which are on DVD (for example the editions by "Warner" or by "Criterion"), but it is at least much better than that terrible French edition by Universal ("Les Amants du Capricorn") and it is, so far as I can see, the only acceptable and obtainable edition (the German edition by "Kinowelt" is cut and therefore worthless); there is no bonus on the DVD but I am not missing it at all. The menue is very good and shows the chapters in detail. I like this edition."
Hitchcock stretches with mixed success
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 07/26/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A period piece directed by Hitchcock? Yes, it is a surprise. It wasn't the first though It must have surprised Hitch as well. While produced by his own company (Transatlantic Pictures), Under Capricorn would seem a natural choice for David O Selznick as producer but all wrong for Hitchcock as director. While Under Capricorn is flawed, it's got a number of strengths chiefly the performance by Ingrid Bergman and the unusual experiment begun in Rope with long takes. Under Capricorn doesn't rely on as many gimmicks as Rope did and, while Joseph Cotton may seem odd for his role (Burt Lancaster was Hitchcock's original choice), he does a solid job in the role. Although the Irish accent perpetually eludes the three principal actors, it's no worse than watching a film set in, say, Germany with actors attempting German accents while speaking English.Yes, the material might seem appropriate for Hitch given the themes explored but this romantic melodrama was really quite a stretch for him as a director. The experience here certainly made his later works richer (such as Vertigo) but, on the whole, Under Capricorn was clearly a learning experience for Hitch. The performances are grand and as florid as one might expect given the material. The screenplay by James Bridie (with considerable rewriting by Hume Cronyn)leaves Hitch in a lifeboat without oars; Hitch pretty much goes nowhere over the course of the film's 116 minutes. Unfortunately, this expensive miscalculation would do in Hitch's Transatlantic films (Rope was the first Transatlantic production and, despite some obvious flaws, is a much better film).Still, despite its considerable flaws, Under Capricorn is a worthy experiment and worth a look from Hitchcock fans. The transfer is solid although not as rich as I expected and the extras are pretty slim (especially compared to Rope and Shadow of a Doubt)."
You could hear a pin drop
cvairag | Allan Hancock College | 03/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The divergence of opinion among the reviewers regarding this film interests me - and reflects the changes the media itself has undergone, inspiring me to add my bit to the dialog here for what its worth. First, I confess to not having seen the DVD. I saw Under Capricorn about 20 years ago at the Nuart, a revival theatre in Los Angeles, where it played as the late night feature on a double-bill with Strangers on a Train to a packed house. The showing was memorable. By the middle of the film, the tension had absorbed the audience to the point where you could literally have heard a pin drop in there - as the cliche goes. The feeling was truly amazing - the energy was that of watching one of the great cinematic masterpieces - and Under Capricorn, great as it is - is hardly one of the greatest film masterpieces. Yet, many of the reviewers here would be surprised to know that a surprising number of the most respected critics consider this rather musty treasure from the golden age of Technicolor - 1945-55 - one of Hitchcock's greatest achievements! Part of the problem is that the "action" in this "costume drama" hails from an age when the ne plus ultra in special effects was stuff like Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments (and that was several years after the 1949 release of this film). There really is no viable action to speak of in the film - which, if films had academic subtitles, could be called: Under Capricorn: Hitch meets Henry James. Really, it is the Jamesian novel of film, before movies of James' novels came into vogue, although The Heiress, one of the most lauded and popular films of 1949, was Hollywood's first major adaptation of a James novel. One can see flashes of Under Capricorn in the more droll moments of the French New Wave cinema of the 1960's - many of whose makers were nursed on Hitchcock. But, calling this rather serious film merely slow-paced would be euphemistic. The film bombed at the box office back in 1949, and would probably not fare much better, if as well, today. Then what exactly has earned this glorified and rather messy soap plaudits from the some of the most selective critics, an enduring cult following, and standing ovations at revival showings? Not the storyline, trite even for the melodramatic 1940s. Not the visuals. There's not a whole lot to commend Under Capricorn in any technical category. What is great, making the film appear larger than perhaps it is, is a surfeit of that elusive combination of awesome acting and on-screen chemistry (could it be that Hitch really was as great a director of actors as some have claimed?). These actors don't need script or props - and, in truth, they don't get much of either, and yet - they cast a big-time spell. The other reviewers have concentrated on the performances of the central characters - the beautiful, strained couple - played by Joseph Cotten, and the gorgeous Ingrid Bergman in one of her most fetching screen appearances - if her character, played the hilt, is seemingly somewhat vapid at heart. These seasoned pros are brilliant,and the subtlety of their portrayals, in which their characters show a truly lifelike, complete unconsciousness of what is going on around them, and their bittersweet devotion to each other, catalyzes the dramatic tension. But center stage in this film belongs without doubt, to the moral battle as it evolves between protagonist and antagonist of the drama, played respectively by the magnificent Michael Wilding, in what must simply be called a larger than life performance, as "Aunt Clary's boy" who comes to Australia "to make his fortune", and the great British heavy, Margaret Leighton. And the action here, which does unfold - is moral. Under Capricorn is, in essence, an old fashioned morality play, as Wilding's character, urbane, polished in the deeper sense, puts on the `shining armor' of altruism and engages in a furious, yet utterly muted combat, with Leighton's. The latter flawlessly projects in probably less twenty minutes of screen time one of the great evils of the age, a character fueled entirely by envy, a desperate, nasty have-not, of little or no formal education, utterly lost in the fury of her blindly narrow, furtive, conditioned scheming. The escalation of the this conflict gives the film its noted ballast. As the moral extremes in us are played out against the usual banal, superficial, and prosaic social contexts, the ponderously crafted sets, the costumes are finally retired, and our real faces are revealed for what they are. As Wilding's character says to Bergman's in his incredible farewell scene: "I suppose I'll be the first man who ever went to Australia, not to return with a fortune", and she never will know how much he loved her, and how much he'd sacrificed. Sublime.
Mellow. Drama. Hitchcock?
A. Gammill | West Point, MS United States | 02/02/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Although I have collected nearly all of Alfred Hitchcock's films on DVD, I put off watching this one for a long time. I suppose it was because of the mixed reviews I'd seen over the years, and the fact that the plot itself did not seem to resemble what I expect a "Hitchcock film" to be. It was, ultimately, my love for Ingrid Bergman, not the director himself, that bid me to give this one a chance.
And I'm glad I went into it with that mindset, because it's a little hard to think of Under Capricorn as a film made by the "master of suspense." First off, because there IS no suspense. OK, there's a bit of tension as the (SPOILERS AHEAD) romantic triangle of the film's lead players unfolds. And there are a handful of interesting shots, chiefly the long takes which Hitchcock used a year earlier in Rope and a year later in Dial M for Murder. But basically, this is a period melodrama which affords little opportunity for the director to show much flair.
Two things save Under Capricorn from being such a labor to watch, though. The first, not suprisingly, is Bergman. The makeup and wardrobe department deserve special mention for her initial appearance, in which one of the most beautiful actresses of all time (a pronouncement with which I'm certain Alfred Hitchcock himself would have agreed) look deathly ill. Hitch's camera always loved Ingrid Bergman, and she gets plenty of closeups here. The other redeeming factor the film has is lush Technicolor cinematography. The print used by Image, while perfectly acceptable, does occasionally suffer some saturation problems. This is also a "bare bones" release, meaning all you get is the film itself with no extras.
I think Under Capricorn might be more appreciated by viewers who enjoy these sort of period dramas than by fans of Hitchcock. Still, it's not a bad little movie. And it's certainly recommended for Bergman fans. "