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>
The novel was bought by David O. Selznick for $50,000 as a vehicle for Carole Lombard with the idea that he would attempt to get Ronald Colman for the male lead. According to Selznick's memos, when Colman put off accepting the part because he was afraid that the picture would be a "woman starring vehicle" and because of the murder angle, Selznick turned to his second choices for the role, Laurence Olivier and William Powell. Olivier was willing to work for $100,000 less than Powell and so he was chosen. Leslie Howard was also considered for the part. See more »
When Mrs. Van Hopper begins to put out her cigarette into the cold cream jar, the jar already has a cigarette in it. At the closeup of the jar, the original cigarette is gone. She puts in a cigarette at an odd angle but when the close up is over, we again see only the original one. 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 »
I spent the majority of this film thinking about how lucky M. Olivier really was. To be able to wrap his arms around Joan Fontaine and kiss her. Oh my. She's one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen (almost, but not quite as beautiful as Veronica Lake). She's also absolutely perfect in the role of the second Mrs. DeWinter, taking a character that could have become a cloying bore in less capable hands and transforming her into a sympathetic and interesting figure.
The movie, on the whole, is similarly amazing, capturing the spirit and the tone of those great Gothic romances. Watching Rebecca, I was reminded (pleasantly) of Wuthering Heights; I do not mean to suggest that in some way this film re-tells the tale of Cathy and Heathcliff, but rather that Rebecca has the feel of Bronte's novel (I am most certainly not talking about the William Wyler adaptation a few years before the release of Rebecca. That's a terrible film that somehow manages to mis-interpret the novel).
I must assume that the guiding hand of Hitchcock played no small role in recreating the feel of a Gothic romance. There are very few that would be able to take a love story, infuse it with such gloom, with such a sense of foreboding, and still manage to create something that ends happily without it feeling like a cop-out. I'd also like to draw everyone's attention to the incredibly moving section of the film that occurs between the arrival of the second Mrs. DeWinter at Mandalay and the masqued ball. The emotional strain on the Joan Fontaine character is so palpable, so absolutely taxing, that it actually pains me to watch. I hurt along with her. Few other movies affect me so emotionally
one of them is Vertigo.
All in all, this is a fantastic piece of film-making from Hollywood's golden age. Laurence Olivier is in top-form, as he plays the quiet, sad Maxim and George Sanders is positively hateful.
10/10 - a visceral masterpiece
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