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Under Capricorn
Director: Alfred Hitchcock (Dir)
Release Date:   1949
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 9 Sep 1949
Production Date:   21 Jul--18 Oct 1948 at Elstree Studios, England; 12 Oct--mid Nov 1948 at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank CA
Duration (in mins):   116-117
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Cast:   Ingrid Bergman (Lady Henrietta [Hattie] Flusky)  
    Joseph Cotten (Sam Flusky) By arrangement with David O. Selznick
    Michael Wilding (Hon. Charles Adare)  
    Margaret Leighton (Milly)  
    Cecil Parker (The governor)  
    Denis O'Dea (Mr. Corrigan)  
    Jack Watling (Winter)  
    Harcourt Williams (The coachman)  
    John Ruddock (Mr. [Cedric] Potter)  
    Bill Shine (Mr. Banks)  
    Victor Lucas (The Rev. Smiley)  
    Ronald Adam (Mr. Riggs)  
    Francis De Wolff (Major Wilkins)  
    G. H. Mulcastor (Dr. Macallister)  
  Kitchen staff at Flusky's manor: Olive Sloane (Sal)  
    Maureen Delaney (Flo)  
    Julia Lang (Susan)  
    Betty McDermott (Martha)  
    Alfred Hitchcock (Man standing in front of Government House)  

Summary: 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. 

Production Company: Transatlantic Pictures Corp.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Alfred Hitchcock (Dir)
  C. Foster Kemp (Asst dir)
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock (Prod)
Writer: John Colton ([Story] by)
  Margaret Linden ([Story] by)
  James Bridie (Scr)
  Hume Cronyn (Adpt)
Photography: Jack Cardiff (Dir of photog)
  Paul Beeson (Op of cam movement)
  Ian Craig (Op of cam movement)
  David MacNeilly (Op of cam movement)
  Jack Haste (Op of cam movement)
Art Direction: Thomas Monahan (Prod des)
Film Editor: A. S. Bates (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Philip Stockford (Set dresser)
Costumes: Roger Forse (Cost des)
Music: Richard Addinsell (Mus score)
  Louis Levy (Mus dir)
Sound: Peter Handford (Sd rec)
Make Up: Charles Parker (Makeup artist)
Production Misc: Fred Ahern (Prod mgr)
  John Palmer (Unit mgr)
  Peggy Singer (Cont)
Color Personnel: Natalie Kalmus (Technicolor col consultant)
  Joan Bridge (Assoc col dir)
Country: Great Britain and United States

Source Text: Based on the novel Under Capricorn by Helen Simpson (New York, 1938).
Authors: Helen Simpson

Physical Properties: col: Technicolor
  Sd: Western Electric Recording

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Historical
 
Subjects (Major): Class distinction
  Marriage
  Psychological torment
  Self-sacrifice
  Sydney (Australia)
 
Subjects (Minor): Accidents
  Bankers
  Confession (Law)
  Ex-convicts
  Drunkenness
  False arrests
  Governors
  Housekeepers
  Jealousy
  Regeneration
  Shootings
  Unrequited love

Note: 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. 

Bibliographic Sources:   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.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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