Thieves and Cutthroats: Alfred Hitchcock’s JAMAICA INN (Renown 1939)


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Critics weren’t kind to JAMAICA INN when it first appeared in 1939, and the film is still unappreciated today. Many consider this Alfred Hitchcock’s worst movie, and those scoundrels the Medved brothers included it in their book “The Fifty Worst Films of All Time”. I take a different view, and though it may not be top-notch Hitchcock, it still has The Master’s touch, along with an entertainingly over-the-top performance by Charles Laughton, and a star-making turn by the late Maureen O’Hara. I can think of hundreds of worst ways to spend your cinematic time than giving JAMAICA INN another look. In fact, I can think of far worse Hitchcock (anyone out there remember MARNIE or FAMILY PLOT?)

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Young Mary Yellen (O’Hara) arrives in the coastal town of Cornwall in 1819 to live with her aunt after the recent death of her mother. The coach carrying her refuses to stop near…

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Following The Amazon Prime Recommendation Worm #2: Secret Travel (2013), One Thing She Doesn’t Have (2014), Kiss Me, Kill Me (2009), Love Me Not (2006)


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Secret Travel (2013, dir. Park Chang-Jin) – The plot of this film is that a guy starts a suicide club after a female prostitute gets into his cab who is obviously very depressed. Based on that plot would you think this movie is a comedy? Would you think that by looking at that poster? This movie also goes under the title Secret Confessions. Either title tell you it’s a comedy? Only the third title called Wish Taxi betrays that this might be a comedy. No wonder it also uses this as it’s poster.

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Now that tells you it’s a comedy! The best way I can give you a feel for it is to take Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) and cross it with The Breakfast Club (1985). The guy meets the girl in his cab and decides a way to get close to her is take up her apparent interest in killing herself. Rather morbid. He puts up a post online and two other girls along with her show up. There’s the perky one who is pictured on the right of that poster. The prostitute in the middle who is in the middle as far as depression goes. Then there’s the girl on the far left who in the movie you can tell is actually in danger of offing herself. The idea is that they are going to fulfill their bucket lists before killing themselves together. Again, rather morbid, but it all plays out like a comedy. I would compare it to the film The Bucket List, but I haven’t seen that one yet and it really is like a bunch of kids taking a day off of school who would normally not hang out together, but then get to know each other by having a good time in the city, thus becoming life long friends. In other words, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off crossed with The Breakfast Club.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I’ve said it several times already, but it is kind of morbid considering it’s a suicide club and all. Also, they all end up having sex with him. That’s really not much of a spoiler. One could read a little too much into it and think that having sex with him solves their problems. It really doesn’t. You can also look at it as a guy who gets sex by preying on three emotionally disturbed girls. I think that’s not giving the girls enough credit. He never really takes advantage and they all know what they are doing. It’s easier to argue that The Twilight Saga is about a pedophile considering the entire story can be stripped to a 100+ year old man who gets into a relationship with a teenage girl and freezes her at a young age.

I recommend this one.

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One Thing She Doesn’t Have (2014, dir. Yu Jeong-Hwan) – This one on the other hand, I can’t recommend. The one thing this film doesn’t have is focus. One minute it wants to be a screwball comedy. Then it’s 8 1/2 (1963). Then it’s Soapdish (1991). Next it’s All About Eve (1950). Next it’s trying to be clever about how sex tapes affect the careers of actors. The cult of celebrity. It’s all over the place. Speaking of Soapdish.

The movie is about an actress whose career is on the downswing. Nobody is taking her seriously. On the other hand, you have a director who is also not doing so good. He is going to do a, what I thought was a movie, but it turns out to be a play. A rather racey play that has pole dancing in it. The actress’ production company encourages her to do it so she does…sort of. Do I have to tell you she’s a total diva? Well, she is. The film is about this play coming together, her using a body double for the pole dancing stuff, and a scandal. I think it fancies itself to be insightful and clever, but it isn’t. It’s all over the place.

Case in point, early in the movie the actress and a friend all but date rape the director to take pictures of him in sexual positions while he is heavily drugged so she can get her way. That is played as if it’s all light and funny. However, later in the film a sex tape gets out of the actress, which the director had nothing to do with, but it’s suddenly something we are supposed to take very seriously. It’s fake too by the way while the pictures are very real. So, the all but date rape is perfectly fine, but this sex tape of someone who is already doing a play where she is pole dancing almost entirely naked is supposed to be meaningful and tragic? Sorry, it doesn’t work. Yes, I know they try to explain this away with her little tale about her early acting career, but I’m sorry, swap the genders of that drugging and people would scream bloody murder. When you can swap gender and suddenly you feel repulsed, then it wasn’t right in the first place.

I don’t recommend this one.

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Kiss Me, Kill Me (2009, dir. Yang Jon-Hyeon) – First things first. I can’t possibly be the only one who looks at that poster and thinks of the game Lethal Enforcers with the pink gun.

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Well, with that out of the way. Ever wanted to see Branded To Kill (1967) sorta reworked into a romance between a hitman and a suicidal woman? Neither did I, but that’s essentially what you have here. For those of you who haven’t seen Branded To Kill, then stop reading this and go watch it. You’re in for a bizarre treat. Oh, and here’s the trailer for Branded To Kill which will explain nothing…

because you can’t really make a trailer to Branded To Kill that explains it. I can barely explain it and I’ve seen it. Also, you have probably seen it referenced in other movies. From something like Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai (1999) to that really short-lived trans woman British contract killer TV show Hit & Miss. Yep, Chloë Sevigny with a penis. That’s something that exists in that show. I mean they actually show it several times. What also exists in both that movie, that TV show, and this movie are direct references to the famous butterfly sniper rifle scene. In Branded To Kill the lead played by Jô Shishido misses his target because a butterfly lands on his rifle. In this movie, it’s a leaf that happens to pass in front of the lead’s scope. This causes him to screw up a hit.

The movie starts out by introducing us to the suicidal girl as we see her jump onto the tracks while an oncoming subway train approaches. She lands on the tracks next to the tracks that the train is on before getting up and running away. Comedy? Anyways, she winds up at the scene where the hit is going to go down. There is actually a funny moment here when our contract killer goes to setup his gun on top of a building and notices a police sniper already there on the neighboring roof. The two just kind of acknowledge each other, then our killer goes somewhere else to setup. The girl happens to be there, but he doesn’t really meet her yet.

He’s then hired to kill a guy who is just going to be lying in his bed sleeping. Of course it turns out it’s her and she has hired him to kill her. He doesn’t do it though recognizing she’s suicidal and that’s not his thing. This is when he becomes romantically linked with her by basically just moving in with her. He still is going around killing, but he’s now sort of living with her and I believe his mother too. It reminded me of when the #1 Yakuza killer moves in with the lead in Branded To Kill. There’s even a shot of them just both sitting looking dead at some park like I remember the two killers doing on a couch in Branded To Kill.

Oh, and yes, I know him being hired to kill a woman could also be a reference to Murder By Contract (1958). So here’s that trailer too. Worth seeing even if the ending of the film is disappointing.

Ultimately, the movie has a neat setup, and I kind of like the actor playing the contract killer, but then it just settles into a soap opera. And yes, I’m well aware that soap operas are uber popular in South Korea. If I had forgotten, then the next film I’ll talk about sure reminded me of that fact. I didn’t like it. I kind of wish they had just gone all out and simply remade Branded To Kill. Oldboy (2003) proved the Koreans have what it takes to remake something so bat shit crazy. Unfortunately, after watching the movie I couldn’t satisfy my Jô Shishido fix since I don’t own any of his films. So I had to settle for the final scene from A Colt Is My Passport (1967). Enjoy!

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Love Me Not (2006, dir. Cheol-ha Lee) – It doesn’t look like Amazon Prime is going to let me out of South Korea anytime soon. This makes 6 of them in a row. This one is a straight up Old Hollywood 1950’s weepie. Even has sections with strong use of color that you would expect from a Douglas Sirk movie. Although, the main guy also wears an all white suit at times during some scenes with strong use of color so for all I know that was a reference to Tokyo Drifter (1966). Might as well have two movies in a row that reference a Seijun Suzuki film. Also, this one appears to reference Citizen Kane. I actually took a couple of screenshots here.

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The plot here is that they needed an excuse to have a conman spend time with a blind woman who can appear as if she has just lost her sight even though she lost it a long time ago. To do this, they have a guy that suddenly needs massive amounts of money to pay back a debt he owes. He is going to go and pose as the blind woman’s long lost brother in order to get her inheritance since her father recently passed away. We get her acting as if she just went blind because the movie tells us she never left the house after losing her sight. That is until he shows up, then it’s time for the two to go out on the town so we can see her acting pathetic and him growing to love her.

There is seriously nothing else to this. This would have made a perfectly okay 1950s Hollywood romance film. Maybe Cary Grant or Robert Mitchum as the conman and maybe Ingrid Bergman as the blind woman. Actually, Audrey Hepburn is probably a better choice seeing as she was awesome playing blind in Wait Until Dark (1967). That or I needed an excuse to include the trailer for Wait Until Dark here.

I only recommend seeing Love Me Not if you know that Old Hollywood weepies really are your thing, and even more so if you already know the two leading actors: Geun-young Moon and Ju-hyuk Kim. If so, I can tell you that you will most likely enjoy this movie. It’s average, but I didn’t enjoy it because I am really not the intended audience.

And here’s some scenes from Wait Until Dark because I can. You’re welcome! Call it adding a “Scenes That I Love” section to a “Roundup” post.