Jamaica Inn appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a consistently satisfying presentation.
Sharpness worked well. Only a smidgen of softness materialized, and when it did so, it usually seemed to reflect the original photography. The majority of the film showed solid delineation and accuracy. I noticed virtually no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement was absent. With a nice layer of grain, I witnessed no indications of intrusive noise reduction.
Blacks looked tight and deep, and contrast seemed solid. The movie exhibited a nicely silver sheen that depicted the black and white photography well. Print flaws were a non-factor, as the movie suffered from nary a speck, mark or other defect. This was a strong representation of the source material.
As for the film’s LPCM monaural soundtrack, it seemed typical for its era, which meant nothing about the audio excelled, but it remained solid for its age. Speech demonstrated pretty positive clarity and appeared surprisingly natural. Some lines were slightly edgy, but the dialogue didn’t seem as thin and shrill as I expected. Effects were acceptably clean and accurate; they didn’t demonstrate much range, but they lacked distortion and were fairly concise.
Music seemed similarly restricted but sounded fine for its age. Inn provides no formal score, so music appeared only at the beginning and end. The track lacked source flaws like pops or clicks. Ultimately, Inn provided a fine track for a flick from 1939.
When we move to extras, we find an audio commentary from film critic Jeremy Arnold. He provides a running, screen-specific look at cast and crew, the source novel and its adaptation, how the production got to the screen, story/character areas and performances, sets, music, editing and related domains.
Arnold gives us a brisk, informative chat. He covers the topics we’d expect from a piece such as this and does so in a concise manner. Arnold turns this into a useful discussion.
In addition to the movie’s 2014 re-release trailer, we get a “video essay” called Shipwrecked in a Studio. Hosted by film historian Donald Spoto, this 13-minute, six-second piece tells us about the source novel and its adaptation as well as aspects of the production’s path to the screen, story/character areas, cast and performances, visual techniques, and the like. Spoto’s conversation complements Arnold’s and adds to our appreciation of the film.
The disc opens with ads for Magician: The Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles, Timbuktu, In the Name of My Daughter and Deli Man.
Fans will come to Jamaica Inn due to the presence of Alfred Hitchcock behind the camera. They shouldn’t expect much from the film, unfortunately, as the slow, dull “adventure” fails to match up to the director’s legend. The Blu-ray presents solid picture and audio along with some informative bonus materials. As a Hitchcock fan, I’m glad I saw Jamaica Inn, but I don’t care if I ever view this disappointment again.