Rebecca (1979– )
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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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Maxim de Winter
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Mrs. de Winter
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Mrs. Danvers
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Frank Crawley
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Beatrice
Leon Sinden ...
Giles
Hugh Morton ...
Frith
Richard Willis ...
Robert
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Ben (as Morgan Sheppard)
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Jack Favell
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Release Date:

24 January 1979 (UK)  »

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A Chill Sets In.
1 January 2017 | by See all my reviews

Here we get to know Mrs. Danvers (Massey) a little better, whether we want to or not. Pale, always dressed in black, she turns out to be a cold and domineering presence as Head Housemistress of Manderley or whatever her title is. She's in no way impudent towards the poor neophyte, the new Mrs. de Winter (David) but her guidance is delivered as a polite imperative. You don't want to cross Mrs. Danvers.

David, shy and intimidated, knows nothing of the aristocratic folkways of Manderley. She's frightened of her own shadow and when she accidentally breaks a piece of pottery in the now-deceased Rebecca's social office, she hurriedly scoops up the fragments and hides them in the back of the secretary drawer so that no one will know. Well, we're all familiar with the feeling of self-conscious inferiority and the terror that it can breed. All that has to happen is that the phlebotomist says, "Now you're going to feel a little stick."

It ought to be said that Max de Winter's bride has reason to feel a little subordinate. Joanna David is not ugly but rather plain in feature and drab in grooming. A noticeable little pimple has situated itself on her right cheek. Let's say she's no Joan Fontaine. Jeremy Brett as Max, on the other hand, is suave, cutting, and enigmatic as well as handsome. Something is bothering the guy. There's an Eyre of mystery about him, as if he were hiding some dark secret. (Sorry.)

But Manderley isn't entirely isolated. A couple of friends visit and the atmosphere becomes more relaxed as Max and his guest argue cheerfully about how much exercise dogs need. But even here David manages to amputate the conversation by asking if it's too cold to swim in the bay. The bay is where the first Mrs. de Winter drowned and it's not referred to in sensitive company.

Strange things happen during the following weeks and months. Nothing of celestial magnitude, just slightly irritating cracks in the humdrum surface of daily life in a country manor -- a broken porcelain Cupid, a mentally challenged man on the beach who promises he won't tell what he saw, a cottage that should be locked but isn't, an impetuous dog named Jasper, an eel-like visitor who sizes Harding up and remarks, "Lucky man, that Max."

As the episode ends, Mrs. Danvers discovers David in the carefully preserved bedroom of the former Mrs. de Winter, which no one enters except Mrs. Danvers, who carefully tidies up and lays out Rebecca's nightgown every evening, as if the dead were still alive. Mrs. Danvers describes how devoted she was to Rebecca and wonders if her spirit comes back and watches Max and his new wife doing the horizontal mambo. It's spooky but not as spooky as the same scene in Hitchcock's movie, where Mrs. Danvers holds out one of Rebecca's nightgowns and says, "See how sheer it is. Why you can see my hand through it."


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