Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Michael Wilding, Margaret Leighton, Cecil Parker, Denis O'Dea, Jack Watling, Harcourt Williams, John Ruddock, Bill Shine, Victor Lucas, Ronald Adam, Francis De Wolff, G.H. Mulcaster, Olive Sloane, Maureen Delaney, Julia Lang, Betty McDermott
Written by: Hume Cronyn, James Bridie, based on the play by John Colton, Margaret Linden and on the novel by Helen Simpson
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 117
Date: 09/08/1949

Under Capricorn (1949)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Criminal Elements

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of Alfred Hitchcock's few period pieces, this Technicolor costume drama has always lived among the Master's most underrated gems. Joseph Cotten plays a wealthy businessman in colonial Australia (when it was still basically a huge prison) and Ingrid Bergman plays his repressed wife. The main character is actually the dandyish Charles Adare (Michael Wilding), who is sadly not quite as interesting as his two co-stars. While not specifically a suspense film, Under Capricorn requires a little more patience than is usual in a Hitchcock picture. The master builds quiet tension with several impressive, sustained long takes (this movie followed Rope) and pays them off with a few palpable shocks toward the end.

In 2018, Kino Lorber released a new Blu-ray edition. The Technicolor hasn't aged well and the picture isn't quite as dazzling as it could be; colors bleed here and there, and figures are rimmed with edges of red. Audio is fine, however. Extras include a commentary by film historian Kat Ellinger, an audio recording of Truffaut's interview with Hitchcock, "Cinema of Signs: Claude Chabrol on Alfred Hitchcock," and a trailer.

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