Feature Film Friday: Under Capricorn (1949)

I know I haven’t done a Feature Film Friday post in like forever, the only excuse I can offer is that I’ve been ridiculously busy between school, blogging, and other obligations. Anyways, the movie I chose for this Friday is a pretty obscure film but features an excellent cast.

Ingrid Bergman – one of my favorite actresses, and Joseph Cotton – most definitely one of my favorites star in Under Capricorn, a film by Alfred Hitchcock. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Helen Simpson about a young man named Charles Adare who arrives in the Australian colonies during the 1830′s. Hoping to make his fortune he befriends local wealthy business man Sam Flusky – Flusky is married to Lady Henrietta, who once knew Charles by way of her friendship with his sister. Flusky hopes that Charles will help cheer up his wife, a depressed alcoholic whose state of being leaves her with a non-existent relationship with her husband.

*Spoilers Ahead* However, Charles has feelings for Lady Henrietta and hopes to take her with him when he leaves Australia. But despite his outward appearance, Sam Flusky is still very much in love with his wife, and his wife with him. We learn that Flusky, a former convict, came to Australia to serve a sentence for which Lady Henrietta was really guilty for. And that her love for him, made her follow him to the colony – whose environment took a severe toll on her. Flusky accidentally shoots Charles, and results in a situation that could leave Lady Henrietta or Sam hanging from the gallows.

The film was not initially received well by audiences. Accommodated to thrillers from Hitchcock, they were not so pleased with the more dramatic character driven storyline. Also, it is suggested that the film did not fare as well as it could have because the illicit relationship and subsequent pregnancy of Ingrid Bergman with director Roberto Rossellini became public knowledge at the time of the films release. Either way, it’s definitely a film worth seeing at least once in one’s lifetime. Bergman gives an excellent performance as Lady Henrietta, and Joseph Cotton plays the mysterious and secretive Flusky wonderfully. My only issue with the film is that as a viewer, I’m left wanting so much more. Like I would love to see some form of happiness between Lady Henrietta and Sam – like a goodbye token, a promise that things began to look up for these two after so much suffering. It’s not a prolific film, but it’s an enjoyable way to kill a Friday evening.

My favorite scene, and don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie yet ‘cuz it will ruin it for you, is when Sam finds out that Milly (the housemaid) has been poisoning Lady Henrietta in a bid for his affections. I love how Sam immediately wants Lady Henrietta to know that he had nothing to do with her maids wicked schemes, and not in a way that suggests he wants to remove himself from the situation, but in a way that just shows how her opinion of him is so important to Sam.

Also, according to IMDb, Under Capricorn is considered amongst French critics as one of Hitchcock’s best films. And the French are a pretty reputable source, after all they make croissants, and baguettes, and macaroons. So there, go watch it! ;)

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