Under Capricorn (1949)

116-117 mins | Drama | 1949

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writer:

James Bridie

Producer:

Alfred Hitchcock

Cinematographer:

Jack Cardiff

Editor:

A. S. Bates

Production Designer:

Thomas Monahan

Production Company:

Transatlantic Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Although John Colton's and Margaret Linden's onscreen credit reads "by", they had actually written an unproduced and unpublished play based on Helen Simpson's novel. The novel was adapted for the screen by Hume Cronyn and was the basis for the screenplay. In this film, Alfred Hitchcock continued to experiment with long takes, a technique that he began in Rope (see above), which was also adapted by Cronyn. Ingrid Bergman's monologue, during which she relates the story of her marriage to "Flusky," the subsequent shooting of her brother and their experiences in Australia, lasts nine and one-half minutes and was shot in one take. A dinner table sequence runs more than seven minutes without a cut. Most of the picture was filmed in London and the English countryside, according to an 11 Oct 1948 news item in HR , but some scenes were shot on the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA. On 26 Aug 1948, HR reported that Hugh Reticker would be the art director on the film when the production returned to the United States, but the extent of his contribution is undetermined.
       According to modern sources, the columned facade of Canoga Park High School stood in for the exterior of Government House in Sydney. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in Under Capricorn by appearing as a man standing in front of Government House. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Hitchcock bought the dramatic rights to Under Capricorn in 1945 for the token price of $1.00. Although Hitchcock had planned to film Under Capricorn before Rope , ... More Less

Although John Colton's and Margaret Linden's onscreen credit reads "by", they had actually written an unproduced and unpublished play based on Helen Simpson's novel. The novel was adapted for the screen by Hume Cronyn and was the basis for the screenplay. In this film, Alfred Hitchcock continued to experiment with long takes, a technique that he began in Rope (see above), which was also adapted by Cronyn. Ingrid Bergman's monologue, during which she relates the story of her marriage to "Flusky," the subsequent shooting of her brother and their experiences in Australia, lasts nine and one-half minutes and was shot in one take. A dinner table sequence runs more than seven minutes without a cut. Most of the picture was filmed in London and the English countryside, according to an 11 Oct 1948 news item in HR , but some scenes were shot on the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA. On 26 Aug 1948, HR reported that Hugh Reticker would be the art director on the film when the production returned to the United States, but the extent of his contribution is undetermined.
       According to modern sources, the columned facade of Canoga Park High School stood in for the exterior of Government House in Sydney. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in Under Capricorn by appearing as a man standing in front of Government House. Modern sources add the following information about the production: Hitchcock bought the dramatic rights to Under Capricorn in 1945 for the token price of $1.00. Although Hitchcock had planned to film Under Capricorn before Rope , Bergman's prior commitments delayed the production until 1948. The film was the second and last production of Transatlantic Pictures. Modern sources add that the film lost money and was repossessed by the bank. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Oct 48
p. 3.
New York Times
9 Sep 49
p. 28.
Variety
14 Sep 49
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCER
WRITERS
[Story] by
[Story] by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Op of cam movement
Op of cam movement
Op of cam movement
Op of cam movement
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus dir
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Assoc col dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Under Capricorn by Helen Simpson (New York, 1938).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 9 September 1949
Production Date:
21 July--18 October 1948 at Elstree Studios, England
12 October--mid November 1948 at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank CA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
116-117
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
SYNOPSIS

In 1831, a new governor is sent to the prison colony in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, Australia. Irishman Charles Adare accompanies the governor, who is his second cousin, and plans to make his fortune there. Soon after Charles' arrival, banker Cedric Potter introduces him to Sam Flusky, an emancipated prisoner who has become a wealthy landowner. Although Flusky's name is familiar to Charles, he cannot place it and questions Potter, who reminds him that in Australia, no one talks about the past. Flusky, who does recognize Charles, offers him a business deal. After explaining that he has bought all the land he is allowed, Flusky asks Charles to purchase a plot of land, which he will then buy from him at a profit. Charles accepts Flusky's dinner invitation, even though Potter has warned him against it. Later, the governor also asks Charles to turn down the invitation, as it could cause an awkward situation. Flusky has invited several other couples to dinner to meet Charles, but as the appointed hour approaches, only the men arrive. After all make excuses for their wives, Flusky states that his wife, Lady Henrietta, is also ill, but as the dinner begins, the beautiful, but drunken Hattie joins the men unexpectedly. When Charles sees her, he realizes that she is an old childhood friend from Ireland. Hattie is too ill to stay at the table, but when she returns to her room, she screams hysterically, claiming to see a rat. The other men believe that she is suffering from hallucinations, but Charles takes her seriously and shoots into the fireplace, after which, Hattie ... +


In 1831, a new governor is sent to the prison colony in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, Australia. Irishman Charles Adare accompanies the governor, who is his second cousin, and plans to make his fortune there. Soon after Charles' arrival, banker Cedric Potter introduces him to Sam Flusky, an emancipated prisoner who has become a wealthy landowner. Although Flusky's name is familiar to Charles, he cannot place it and questions Potter, who reminds him that in Australia, no one talks about the past. Flusky, who does recognize Charles, offers him a business deal. After explaining that he has bought all the land he is allowed, Flusky asks Charles to purchase a plot of land, which he will then buy from him at a profit. Charles accepts Flusky's dinner invitation, even though Potter has warned him against it. Later, the governor also asks Charles to turn down the invitation, as it could cause an awkward situation. Flusky has invited several other couples to dinner to meet Charles, but as the appointed hour approaches, only the men arrive. After all make excuses for their wives, Flusky states that his wife, Lady Henrietta, is also ill, but as the dinner begins, the beautiful, but drunken Hattie joins the men unexpectedly. When Charles sees her, he realizes that she is an old childhood friend from Ireland. Hattie is too ill to stay at the table, but when she returns to her room, she screams hysterically, claiming to see a rat. The other men believe that she is suffering from hallucinations, but Charles takes her seriously and shoots into the fireplace, after which, Hattie is calmer. Later, Flusky reminds Charles that he was the groom on Hattie's family estate, but after they were married, her family had him transported. She sold her things and followed him. Flusky admits that he invited Charles in the hope that his presence would entice society women to the house. Later, learning of Charles's involvement with Flusky, the governor insists that he renege on their deal and reveals that Flusky murdered Hattie's brother. Charles refuses to follow the governor's orders and moves into the Flusky house. He then tries to help Hattie recover. Milly, the housekeeper, watches him suspiciously and attempts to undermine his efforts. Later, Milly complains to Flusky, who tells her to leave if she is unhappy. At first Hattie is devastated by Milly's departure, but with Charles's encouragement, she stops drinking and begins to take charge of the house. One evening, while Charles and Hattie are at a ball, Milly returns to the house and plants jealous suspicions in Flusky's mind. Flusky appears at the ball and creates a disturbance. Later, when Charles suggests that Hattie return to Ireland, she responds by recalling her early love for Flusky. Her story makes it clear that she killed her brother and allowed Flusky to take the blame. Later, Flusky accuses Hattie of having an affair and orders Charles to leave. Charles, who is not a horseman, causes an injury to Flusky's favorite horse. Flusky is forced to shoot the horse and then accidentally shoots Charles. While Charles hovers between life and death, the governor threatens to send Flusky back to prison. To save him, Hattie confesses that she shot her brother, and the governor replies that if this is true, he will have to send her to Ireland to stand trial. Flusky misunderstands her motivation and believes that she wants to return to Ireland with Charles, and when Charles recovers from his injuries, he is astounded to learn of Hattie's confession. Later, Milly, who is in love with Flusky, tries to drive Hattie insane and then slips a fatal dose of sleeping potion in her wine. Hattie sees her do it and calls for Flusky, who finally realizes Milly's true nature. When the governor's men arrive at the Flusky house and ask Flusky to corroborate Hattie's statement, he refuses, having finally realized that Hattie loves him. In the morning, Flusky is brought to Sydney to be returned to prison, and Hattie begs Charles to explain that the shooting was an accident. After he does so, Flusky is released. Together, Flusky and Hattie bid farewell to Charles, who, because he loves Hattie, is returning to Ireland. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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