A man in London tries to help a counterespionage agent. But when the agent is killed and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to both save himself and also stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.
A shy ladies' companion, staying in Monte Carlo with her stuffy employer, meets the wealthy Maxim de Winter. She and Max fall in love, marry and return to Manderley, his large country estate in Cornwall. Max is still troubled by the death of his first wife, Rebecca, in a boating accident the year before. The second Mrs. de Winter clashes with the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, and discovers that Rebecca still has a strange hold on everyone at Manderley. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Alfred Hitchcock: walking past a phone booth just after Jack Favell (George Sanders) makes a call in the final part of the movie. There are photos showing Hitchcock standing beside the phone booth looking at Mr Sanders. Actually the scene isn't played that way and you have to be quick spotting Hitchcock, quickly passing by in the background while Sanders is discussing a parking matter with a police man. Sanders having only been seen in close up while talking on the phone. See more »
When de Winter is showing the honeymoon film, he tells Mrs. de Winter "this is where I set the camera up on the tripod". However, the image they're watching zooms in (this is before the cinematographic image zooms in on the entire film-viewing scene in the movie, itself). Since the camera was on a tripod, it wouldn't have been able to zoom by itself since de Winter was posing with his wife at the time, not adjusting the camera. See more »
Is this your car, sir ?
Will you be going soon ? This isn't a parking place, you know.
Oh, isn't it ? People are entitled... to leave their cars outside if they want to. It's a pity some of you fellows haven't anything better to do!
See more »
The original 1940 credits read "Selznick International presents its picturization of Daphne Du Maurier's 'Rebecca'". The credits on the re-issue version read "The Selznick Studio presents its production of Daphne Du Maurier's 'Rebecca'". See more »
"Rebecca" was the first Hitchcock film I ever saw, and I was mesmerized by
it from the start, convinced that I had to see more of the director's work.
It richly deserved the Oscar it received, but it's a real puzzle that the
Academy saw fit to withhold a best director award for Hitch. Would one
possibly give an award to a work by Picasso and not to Picasso
"Rebecca" was the first of the director's American-made films, and it shows.
It's quite different from his earlier British-made films, such as "Young
and Innocent" and even "The Lady Vanishes," which somehow seem more
amateurish by comparison. (I know little of the British cinema of that era,
but it's difficult not to conclude that Hollywood was better at producing
more sophisticated efforts.) I would even judge "Rebecca" the best of his
films of the early 1940s, with the possible exception of "Shadow of a
Doubt." It is true, of course, that much of this film has become cliché
(remember the spoofs on the old "Carol Burnette Show"!), but it still
weathers the decades very well. The acting is uniformly excellent. Olivier
is the hardened Maxim de Winter, untitled lord of Manderly, trying to forget
the past and given to unexpected bouts of anger and coldheartedness.
Fontaine is perfect as the unnamed mousy heroine, innocent yet deeply in
love, still carrying with her the aura of an awkward schoolgirl. Even
character actor Nigel Bruce, best known for his role in the Sherlock Holmes
films, makes an appearance and plays, in effect, Nigel
But it is Judith Anderson's role as Mrs. Danvers that viewers are likely to
remember best. Her presence is as dark and foreboding as that of the
deceased Rebecca herself, and Fontaine is evidently cowed by her icy stare
and unnervingly formal manner. The dynamics between the two actresses are
wonderful. Who could fail to empathize with Fontaine's unenviable position
as, in effect, the new employer of such an intimidating personage? On the
other hand, Olivier seems quite unfearful of Anderson, despite her
representing so much of the past he is trying to block out. This part of
the plot (even in the book) never made much sense to me and is
As far as I know, this film marked Hitch's first collaboration with composer
Franz Waxman, whose haunting score makes it all the more memorable.
Waxman's scores are perhaps less obviously cinematic than those of the
incomparable Bernard Herrmann, who would score Hitch's films from 1955 to
1966. Contrast the score for "Rebecca" to Herrmann's music for "Citizen
Kane" the following year, and you'll immediately hear the difference.
Waxman's is more symphonic in the central European style reflective of his
own birth and upbringing. Yet it is worth recalling that scoring films was
still a new art at this time, and both Waxman and Herrmann were
Finally, one has to mention the cinematography, which is magnificent.
Technically "Rebecca" might have been filmed in colour, which was newly
available in 1940. ("Gone with the Wind" was filmed entirely in colour the
previous year, while "The Wizzard of Oz" and "The Women" had colour scenes.)
But colour would have diminished its impact. The suspense and the ominous
sense of impending doom could only have been communicated through the medium
of black-and-white and the deft use of light and shade which it
In one respect, of course, "Rebecca" is not a typical Hitchcock film. There
is no fleeing innocent trying to clear his name of a crime he did not
commit. Surprisingly, there isn't even a murder, although its absence was
apparently imposed by the Hayes Code and is certainly foreign to Daphne du
Maurier's original novel. Some have said that there is more Selznick than
Hitchcock in this film, and perhaps there's something to that. Still, if
the collaborative effort between the two was not exactly amiable, it was
In short, this is the first in a string of Hitchcock masterpieces.
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