Under Capricorn ★★★½

The camera prowls down corridors, up latticework, past trellises tangled with ivy, through this Technicolor fantasy of colonial Australia. Matte paintings splashed with lurid greens and blues stand in for establishing shots. The camera rolls on, as if carried by momentum, through full scenes without a cut: dollying in for details, then pulling out for a broader picture. Only the viewer sees it when a husband conceals an abortive gift of rubies from his wife. 20 minutes of screen time earlier, another man gave the wife a mirror, then stole a kiss on her neck. His dubious rationale? "It was a respectful tribute to your reincarnation!" (This, nearly a decade before Vertigo.) A housemaid, covetous of her master, gaslights her mistress with a shrunken head—a soupçon of gothic horror in this period melodrama, the last film Hitchcock would ever make that takes place prior to his birth. Most of Under Capricorn is less overtly ghoulish, more subdued, leaning instead on that disquieting wisdom articulated by the police detective in Rear Window: "People do a lot of things in private they couldn't possibly explain in public."

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