3 items from 2013
It was hard to cast the lead in Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1939. The female fans of the bestseller were very protective of the naive woman whom the widower Max de Winter marries and transports to his ancestral home of Manderley. None of the contenders – including Vivien Leigh, Anne Baxter and Loretta Young – felt right for the second Mrs de Winter, who was every lending-library reader's dream self.
To play opposite Laurence Olivier in the film, the producer David O Selznick suggested instead a 21-year-old actor with whom he was smitten: Joan Fontaine. The prolonged casting process made Fontaine anxious. Vulnerability was central to the part, and you can see that vulnerability, that inability to trust her own judgment, in every frame of the film. The performance brought Fontaine, who has died »
- Veronica Horwell
Cool beauty Joan Fontaine, who gave strong performances in a number of classic films including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca” and Max Ophuls’ “Letter From an Unknown Woman,” died Sunday at her home in Carmel, Calif. She was 96.
Though acclaimed for her talent and elegance, the actress was equally well known for her decades-long feud with sister Olivia de Havilland.
Her porcelain beauty sometimes underlined an icy hauteur (which became more pronounced in later years), but she is best remembered for performances of vulnerability, such as in “The Constant Nymph” (her personal favorite) and Hitchcock’s “Suspicion,” which brought her an Oscar.
The daughter of Lillian Ruse and Walter de Havilland, Fontaine was born in Tokyo (she was 18 months younger than Olivia). Her parents divorced soon after, and her mother brought the two young girls to live in Saratoga, in Northern California, where she taught diction and voice control.
Her mother »
- Richard Natale
Joan Fontaine movies: ‘This Above All,’ ‘Letter from an Unknown Woman’ (photo: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine in ‘Suspicion’ publicity image) (See previous post: “Joan Fontaine Today.”) Also tonight on Turner Classic Movies, Joan Fontaine can be seen in today’s lone TCM premiere, the flag-waving 20th Century Fox release The Above All (1942), with Fontaine as an aristocratic (but socially conscious) English Rose named Prudence Cathaway (Fontaine was born to British parents in Japan) and Fox’s top male star, Tyrone Power, as her Awol romantic interest. This Above All was directed by Anatole Litvak, who would guide Olivia de Havilland in the major box-office hit The Snake Pit (1948), which earned her a Best Actress Oscar nod. In Max Ophüls’ darkly romantic Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948), Fontaine delivers not only what is probably the greatest performance of her career, but also one of the greatest movie performances ever. Letter from an Unknown Woman »
- Andre Soares
3 items from 2013
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