Reef pirates

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title Reef Pirates
too: The tavern of Jamaica
Original title Jamaica Inn
Country of production United Kingdom
original language English
Publishing year 1939
length 100 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Alfred Hitchcock
script Sidney Gilliat ,
Joan Harrison ,
Alma Reville
John Boynton Priestley
production Erich Pommer ,
Charles Laughton
for Mayflower Pictures Corporation
music Eric Fenby
camera Bernard Knowles ,
Harry Stradling Sr.
cut Robert Hamer

Reef Pirates (alternative title: The tavern of Jamaica , original title: Jamaica Inn ) is an adventure film by the director Alfred Hitchcock from 1939 . It was his last British film before he started working with David O. Selznick in the United States . It was shot based on the novel “Gasthaus Jamaica” (“Jamaica Inn”, 1936) by Daphne du Maurier in the Elstree Studios near London.

Near Bolventor in the English county of Cornwall there is a tavern called the Jamaica Inn , which is considered the historical template for du Maurier's novel. Today it is developed for tourism.


In 1819 the Irish orphan Mary travels to the English county of Cornwall . She seeks her aunt Mildred and her husband Joss on, the owners of the ill-famed restaurant "Jamaica Inn" to live after the death of her mother with them. Mary soon discovers that her uncle is leading a band of beach robbers who use fake beacons to lure ships onto the cliffs and rob them. The mastermind behind Uncle Joss is the Justice of the Peace Sir Humphrey Pengallan, which none of the other involved knows. Pengallan leads a double life as a vain, imperious, but at times also magnanimous liege lord and judge on the one hand and as the secret leader of the beach pirates on the other.

Mary prevents gang member James Trehearne from being lynched by the gang. However, Trehearne is actually a government agent whose job it is to find the perpetrators of the raids. He turns to Pengallan of all people to ask for help. When Mary learns of the identity of Trehearnes, she takes her aunt's side and warns her. In spite of everything, Mildred sticks to Joss, whom she loves more than anything. Then events precipitate. Mary prevents another attack on a ship, Joss saves Mary from the gang, the gang shoots Joss, Pengallan shoots Aunt Mildred and kidnaps Mary on a ship to flee to France. In a fight with the army advancing at the last minute, Pengallan falls from the mast of the ship. In the end, Trehearne and Mary are united in love.


The film is based on the novel "Gasthaus Jamaica" by Daphne du Maurier. The screenplay written Sidney Gilliat and Hitchcock's assistant Joan Harrison . One of the leading roles was played by Charles Laughton , who was involved in the production of the film with his own company, which however only made three films (1937 Vessel of Wrath and 1938 St. Martin's Lane ). Co-producer and co-owner of the Mayflower Productions had emigrated from Germany producer and director Erich Pommer , the Hitchcock ever since the cooperation in the German-English film production The Princess and the violinist / The Black Guard knew (1925), in which Hitchcock wrote and Production Designer involved was.

The plans for a joint film were forged in the fall of 1936 at a dinner at a film institute in London, where Hitchcock met Laughton and Pommer by chance.

Reef Pirates was one of the crime specialist Hitchcock's few excursions into costume film , with a Charles Laughton who dominates the entire film through his portrayal of the villain . In his perfectionism he even had a fake nose stuck on to pass better as an oily, pompous squire, and acted in his typical manner, which was called "Laughtonism", with bombastic gestures and eccentric tics. For example, he refused to be filmed walking or standing until he had perfected a certain movement or posture.

Hitchcock disliked this way of working, and in interviews he always complained about the mannerisms and “dubious way of working” Laughton, who, in his opinion, knew nothing about film. With this assessment of the Oscar winner, however, Hitchcock differed significantly from that of other top directors.

For the still rather unknown eighteen-year-old Maureen O'Hara , Riff Pirates was her starting point for a successful Hollywood career after two minor films - she followed her sponsor Laughton to America and shot the global hit The Hunchback of Notre Dame at his side .

After completing the shooting, Hitchcock left England in early March 1939 and began his Hollywood career in the USA with the next film, Rebecca (1940), also a film adaptation of a novel by Daphne du Maurier . Producer David O. Selznick bought the film rights to "Rebecca" for $ 50,000 before filming Riff Pirates began , after Hitchcock had read a preprint and recommended it to Selznick. Originally, Hitchcock wanted to buy the rights himself, but the demands of the agent von du Maurier and the uncertainty that a production company would be interested in them made him refrain from acquiring the rights.


The German synchronous processing originated in 1951 in the Alster Studios Synchron GmbH Hamburg . The dialogue book was written by Karl Peter Mösser , and the dubbing director was Hans Harloff .

role actor Voice actor
Sir Humphrey Pengallan Charles Laughton Josef Dahmen
Mary Maureen O'Hara Ruth Leuwerik
Trehearne Robert Newton Herbert Fleischmann
Mildred (solitaire) Marie Ney Annemarie Schradiek
Sydney Morland Graham Joseph Offenbach
Captain Johnson John Longden Wolf Martini


  • Howard Barnes, a Hitchcock usually well-disposed film critic, attested the film in the New York Herald Tribune as "a unique boredom and uninspiredness. Charles Laughton shows something like contempt for the medium of film and is always content with pulling off a show instead of bringing into the film the emotional and psychological factors that together make a good representation. Here he only provided a self-portrayal and not a good one. "
  • "A gruesome adventure film without quality." - 6000 films. Critical notes from the cinema years 1945 to 1958 . Handbook V of the Catholic film criticism, 3rd edition, Verlag Haus Altenberg, Düsseldorf 1963, p. 356
  • “Hitchcock's last English film before his Hollywood career takes place in a backdrop of England, where one can easily see the tension master's preference for unreal moods and unreal locations. The plot of the ironically broken pirate play fluctuates between crime thriller, melodrama and costume ham; black and white pictures in refined lighting, but rather slow intimate play than fast-paced crime thriller (...) ”(Rating: 2½ stars = above average) - Adolf Heinzlmeier and Berndt Schulz in Lexicon“ Films on TV ” (extended new edition). Rasch and Röhring, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-89136-392-3 , p. 679


  • Daphne du Maurier : Jamaica Inn. Roman (original title: Jamaica Inn ). German by Siegfried Lang . Fischer-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2005, 283 pages, ISBN 3-596-16352-8 (former German title also Gasthaus Jamaica )
  • Robert A. Harris, Michael S. Lasky: Alfred Hitchcock and his films (= Goldmann 10201 Goldmann magnum. Citadel film books ). Edited by Joe Hembus . Goldmann, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-442-10201-4 (Original title: The Films of Alfred Hitchcock. ).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The alternative title is misleading as the action is not set in Jamaica, but in England.
  2. Reef Pirates in Arne Kaul's synchronous database ; Retrieved April 26, 2009