Jamaica Inn

by kpmautner

If you haven’t seen the early (very early) Alfred Hitchcock film of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, it’s well worth renting.  Charles Laughton gives a magnificent performance. The sets are period-accurate and the costuming is brilliant.  It’s in black and white;  Hitchcock filmed it in England, shortly before he came to Hollywood.  And, it introduces a rising star named Maureen O’Hara (you might have heard of her).

The subject matter is fairly historically accurate:  the story deals with wreckers in Cornwall, England, in the early nineteenth century.  The wreckers were bands of hoodlums who sabotaged lighthouse beacons on the Cornish coast in order to lure sailing ships onto the shoals and rocks, destroy them, murder their crews, and steal the cargo. Charming sorts.  And historically accurate.

The plot fairly follows the book’s story line.  I know this because I was given the book to read by the woman I worked for in England.  We were going to Cornwall for a regional horse show and she said that it would give me a picture of the Cornish countryside and coast.  What she didn’t tell me was that we spent three days at the real Jamaica Inn.  In true gothic form, there were massive thunderstorms every night, the sign creaked in the gale-force winds (as it does in the opening scenes of the movie), and generally it was a spooky sort of place to stay!