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Drama, Thriller, Mystery, Romance
IMDB rating:
Alfred Hitchcock
Laurence Olivier as 'Maxim' de Winter
Joan Fontaine as The Second Mrs. de Winter
George Sanders as Jack Favell
Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers
Nigel Bruce as Major Giles Lacy
Reginald Denny as Frank Crawley
C. Aubrey Smith as Colonel Julyan
Gladys Cooper as Beatrice Lacy
Florence Bates as Mrs. Edythe Van Hopper
Melville Cooper as Coroner
Leo G. Carroll as Dr. Baker
Lumsden Hare as Tabbs
Forrester Harvey as Chalcroft
Philip Winter as Robert
Storyline: 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.
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I can see now why Alfred Hitchcock is such a well-respected and well known director. The movie, Rebecca, is about a young woman living in Monte Carlo with her mean employer. She met a very wealthy man by the name of Maxim de Winter. The two fall in love and move back to Maxim de Winter's large estate but it doesn't take long for his new wife to notice that the death of his first wife, Rebecca, still has an effect on everyone in the house. They all still miss her and it is obvious that they wanted the new wife to kind of take the place of Rebecca in a way that she just couldn't do. Rebecca had a huge effect on the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. She even set the house on fire at the end of the movie and ended up dying in the house. The movie had a very surprising ending which I liked. Hitchcock is a great director and you can see that through the movies lighting, camera-work, sounds, and editing.
Proof people praise what is expected to be praised
There are two moments of cinematic greatness in this film. 1)The home movie scene, and 2)the scene involving Danvers manipulating Joan Fontaine after the costume ball. But though these memorable instances attempt to cajole us into admiration during the viewing, the overall product beckons us to reexamine our initial wooing. There are a few other moments of atmospheric success, and Fontaine's initial arrival and exploration of Manderlay and its characters is interesting, but otherwise, the film is often mediocre, and sometimes even poor. Laurence Olivier is very stale and does not exude much of a presence, nor a riveting sense of charm. Fontaine is better, but her character is completely over-the-top. She seems well adjusted and interesting at first, then does nothing but shake and stand with lost eyes for the rest of the film. I know the situation is supposed to bring about such behavior, but it is just too much. The chemistry between the two characters is horrible. Perhaps that is supposed to demonstrate the awkwardness in their relationship. But, then we find de Winter really does love her, and he hates his dead wife. So while his madness translates well, his supposed love for her never does. Not even at the end. And hers for him feels impossible to get our heads around, since he never does anything but be rich and handsome to impress her. I know, I know, those are the dynamics of the relationship, and some of them are more subtle (e.g. de Winter probably goes for her because she seems sexually tame and timidly obsequious), but it still does not feel right in the end. The characters' actions are too shortsighted for the overall plot.

The film often has no momentum, and drags on forever. The entire opening courtship can be eliminated since it is not efficacious in convincing us of much romance anyway. Then there is the second part, where Fontaine slowly learns the secrets of Manderlay, and though this probably is the best part of the film, it still never feels like it is building to a climax, even though every scene attempts to convey a bit of foreboding intrigue. Instead, it becomes monotonous; precisely because every scene is exactly the same. The end feels like it should approach soon after Danvers diabolical rant. Then there is Olivier's admission, and it feels like it should come again. But again it doesn't, and when the ending finally does come, it is of such an enormous magnitude that it feels too brief.

Then there is the story, which I believe has a couple of plot holes, and realistic dilemmas, though I cannot say with absolute certainty. The film has a chance, but not without a reassessment of the script. Another chance at astonishing greatness blown.
Marvelous, if not quite faithful, adaptation of du Maurier's thriller
This black and white classic is generally a wonderful adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel, and despite a number of liberties taken, I compliment Hitchcock on this brilliant thriller. The story revolves around a shy young woman who, having no family herself, is forced to serve as a paid companion to an obnoxious socialite named Mrs. Van Hopper, vacationing in Monte Carlo. While there, she meets a handsome but abrupt English widower named Maxim de Winter, who is staying at the same hotel and escorts her about. The innocent young woman is swept away by this mature and mysterious man, though she dares not reveal her emotions, given her lowly social position. Though there is strangely little romance involved, Maxim unexpectedly proposes marriage. The two wed and honeymoon abroad, then Maxim brings his bride home to his grand English country estate, Manderley.

At Manderley the insecure, nameless second Mrs. de Winter is emotionally haunted by Maxim's first wife, the beautiful and accomplished Rebecca. Though Rebecca drowned many months earlier in a boating accident, her memory seems all too fresh in the minds of Maxim's sister Beatrice, his servants, and indeed Maxim himself. The haunting R's are everywhere...on the table linens, the lacy handkerchief, the address book, the dressing gown case. We never see so much as a photograph of the mysterious Rebecca, but her lingering presence is felt through both her possessions and the recollections of others. The domineering and foreboding housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, was personally devoted to Rebecca and exhibits unconcealed disdain for the new intruding and inadequate mistress of Manderley. When Danny shows Maxim's new bride the bizarre West Wing shrine she keeps to her former mistress, it seems as though Rebecca herself might walk in at any moment and use the nightgown and hairbrushes meticulously laid out for her.

For me, the quality of any adaptation of this novel depends upon the persona of the second Mrs. de Winter. Joan Fontaine is sympathetic and endearing in the role, suitably shy and bewildered, but this actress is far too pretty! Maxim's new bride should be unglamorous, even plain and dowdy. Primarily for this reason, I prefer the 1979 serial version which has a perfectly cast Mrs. de Winter. However, Laurence Olivier is superb as the mature, sophisticated, often brooding, and occasionally rather nasty Maxim de Winter. The most masterful performance is definitely given by Judith Anderson as the dark, sinister, and menacing housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, whose chilling stare dominates much of the tale.

Maxim's business agent and friend, Frank Crawley, is faithfully portrayed as a quiet, kind, and competent individual who is unfailingly loyal to Maxim. Beatrice is suitably forthright, Giles foolish and chubby, the servants appropriately formal, and Jack Favell utterly despicable. Mrs. Van Hopper is wonderfully captured as the rude, chattering, condescending, and altogether obnoxious socialite of the novel, fawning over the aristocracy. Her character is necessary in order to cement sympathy for her paid companion and her social situation. I found the Monte Carlo scenes well presented, though could hardly picture du Maurier's gauche heroine so comfortably at ease dancing with Maxim.

The sets especially are brilliantly done, depicting Maxim's grand English country manor. I felt that I was literally standing in Manderley's grand hall with its incredible staircase. Library, morning room, dining room, upstairs galleries, Rebecca's bedroom, and boathouse are all perfectly captured. The Cornish coastal scenes with the haunting fog enshrouded sea are portrayed in typical eerie Hitchcock fashion. Even Jasper the spaniel is perfect!


According to the Hays Code, no movie could depict a murderer in a sympathetic light so the screenwriters were forced to cast Rebecca's death as an accident. Fortunately, I was aware of this in advance so managed the altered portrayal of events quite well. However, it certainly changed the flavour of this sinister tale.

As appealing as the dewy eyed Joan Fontaine is, Hitchcock falls short in capturing Mrs. de Winter. He changes completely her role in the Manderley costume ball preparations by indicating that SHE herself is taking charge. In the book, Mrs. de Winter feels utterly inadequate and useless in these preparations as the domineering Mrs. Danvers organizes menus, flowers, music, and invitations. The worst outrage is his failure to depict the complete transformation of this awkward, insecure young woman, initially so ill at ease as mistress of Manderley and timid with the servants. Once she is assured of Maxim's love and no longer haunted by Rebecca, the novel's Mrs. de Winter immediately becomes a confident lady of the manor, scolding a maid and even taking on Mrs. Danvers. Yes, there IS one movie scene where she DOES defy the housekeeper, declaring, 'I am Mrs. de Winter now'. However, it's ALL WRONG, defeating its purpose by occurring BEFORE Maxim reveals the truth. Hitchcock is certainly a master of the thriller but totally missed the point here.

The ball scenes are shortened due to time constraints, some of the later settings altered, and liberties taken with the conclusion. The novel's Mrs. de Winter is driving home from London with Maxim, rather than remaining behind at Manderley during the fire. The lovey dovey embrace with the implied 'happily ever after' ending is unfaithful to the book. Neither at the beginning nor elsewhere is the viewer ever informed that the de Winters are currently living abroad in obscure hotels on the Continent in self imposed exile. However, for those less concerned with accuracy to the novel, this movie is a haunting and engrossing romantic thriller with an extremely sympathetic heroine.
Alfred Hitchcock's Most Beautiful Film
'Rebecca' is Alfred Hitchcock's most beautiful film. Closely based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, the film follows the romance and subsequent marriage between an unworldly young woman and Mr. Maxim de Winter, a wealthy widower and owner of the lavish estate Manderley. From its famous opening line, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…" the film transports us into a dream-like world where fears of unworthiness and incompetence predominate, and the specter of Maxim's first wife, Rebecca, reproaches the young Mrs. De Winter at every turn.

The casting in 'Rebecca' is impeccable. Joan Fontaine plays the wallflower wife (nameless in both the film and the novel) of Maxim de Winter. Fontaine brings to the role the perfect blend of hand wringing, stutters and stumbling around, while managing to look absolutely lovely doing it. Her performance is beautifully understated and full of sincerity and quiet charm. Lawrence Oliver was the obvious choice to play the moody and unpredictable Maxim given his earlier (and equally excellent) portrayal of Heathcliff in William Wyler's 1939 adaptation of 'Wurthering Heights'. However, it is Judith Anderson's haunting presence in the role of Manderley's housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, that really steals the show. Anderson captures the nuances of this conflicted, complex woman who is often a stronger and more compelling character than Mrs. De Winter, the dreamy heroine. The scene in which Mrs. Danvers gives Mrs. De Winter a tour of Rebecca's former bedroom is among the most powerful in the film.

'Rebecca' is beautifully scripted throughout, drawing heavily on du Maurier's original text. One key difference between novel and film, however, is that Maxim's culpability in Rebecca's death is largely mitigated in the film version, while in the novel he explicitly confesses to intentional murder. One can debate the merits of this choice - it certainly brings the film to a more conventional resolution, where Maxim is permitted to assume a semi-heroic role and the demands of moral conduct are satisfied. But this comes at the expense of du Maurier's original intention, which would have allowed a moral ambiguity to cloud the interpretation of the characters of Maxim and, especially, Rebecca.

Ultimately, 'Rebecca' is among the most lovely and elegant pictures ever made. It does full justice to Daphne du Maurier's complex novel about relationships and the judgments and circumstances that divide them. Highly recommended to all fans of classic cinema and literature.
Favourite book, Favourite movie
I've read this book about 16 years ago and wasn't aware of the movie. Was yearning to watch a good thriller on the book, because it is one of the most spine chilling stories of those times. The fact that this thriller is made by Alfred Hitchcock has made all the difference. Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine are absolutely credible as Mr and Mrs De Winter, and Judith Anderson is terrifying as Mrs Danvers. If you've read the book, you know the twist at the end. But if you haven't yet, the movie is a treat for you. Every frame is delectable and worthy. The suspense unfolds gradually and at the beginning you wouldn't even guess what's in store for you. There isn't much of outdoors explored, but the indoor set is splendidly built as the castle of Manderlay.
What other word can describe such a piece of art? The Selznick/Hitchcock team may have been very strained relation-wise, but it proved to turn out one heck of a motion picture. The photography is awesome. The shadows cast all over Manderley are beautiful. The performances are dead-on. Joan Fontaine deserved the Oscar, but Judith Anderson is the best here. She never misses a note as the sinister Mrs. Danvers.

The basic summary is this: Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) takes his second wife (Fontaine) back to his large estate Manderley, where his bride is terrorized by memories of Maxim's first wife, Rebecca.

There is no other movie that can compare. A perfect 10.
"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."
I can not help feeling that the hostility between the producer and director on the one hand and the main actors on the other hand resulted in such a unique and excellent film. REBECCA is a mystery drama with elements of Gothic style that captivates completely. The director deliberately provoked gloomy atmosphere on the set. Despite that the actors are perfectly done their job.

The beginning of the film is reminiscent of a typical romance or "Cinderella" story in which a little bit of stink. After the wedding story becomes very anxious mystery with a strong dramaturgy and excellent acting. Set design is incredibly fit with the atmosphere. Emotion and cold alternating. Despite repeated plots this movie I would not describe as a thriller. Rebecca is a film about violence against relations and ties with the past. Voltage, typical in Hitchcock's creative work, there is more than just entering the Manderley, not wane even after the last scene.

Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs. de Winter is a common companion and plain, simple girl who becomes the mistress of a huge estate and wife of a man of high lineage. It becomes Mrs. De Winter, but how to do it, when the first Mrs. de Winter still there? Fontaine probably had no idea how her mood affect the perfection of character. In Hollywood she entered through the front door.

Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter, owner of Manderley is habitually cold and sharp. In the second part of the film his emotions rise to the surface. Olivier is certainly one of the few actors who make a small play in conflict with his own emotions.

Perhaps the animosity was as good a reason of attraction between Olivier and Fontaine on the screen.

Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers, housekeeper of Manderley is the perfect villain for this opportunity. The terrifying stillness, cold look, lack of emotion, facial expression that suggests hatred etc. Hitch is through this character touched two controversial topics psychological violence by women and lesbianism.

The film is little you can complain about, one that nicely rounded whole, diverse genres, accompanied by fine music theme by Franz Waxman. With Laurence Olivier in the title role, a triple Oscar winner and founder of the British National Theatre, Hitchcock as a director and an intriguing storyline. Rebecca is absolutely brilliant film with shades of threatening the past, violent and tragic present and an uncertain future.
All around, an excellent production.
his movie is a 10 from the very beginning. The casting is brilliant, the story is hauntingly beautiful, the performances are the best of what Hollywood once was, and the sets are of quality design and architecture. The direction is awesome, but it's Hitchcock, and I expect nothing less from his productions.

Rebecca is a glamorous, beautiful socialite who has won the hearts of all who knew her. Well, almost all. But a year after her untimely death, her grieving husband near his wit's end, has grown seemingly suicidal and aloof.

He engages his grief while on a trip to Monte Carlo, and meets the beautiful personal secretary and maid of a long-time friend, Mrs. Edythe Van Hopper. She is young, naive, and completely unprepared for the life which is awaiting her; all qualities which George Fortescu Maximillian 'Maxim' de Winter finds endearing.

I won't detail the events in this movie, as the story itself is quite haunting, with surprises around every turn.

This is a definite "must have" in any suspense / horror / Hitchcock / classics movie collection, and a mandatory must see for all fans of all movies.

It rates a 10/10 for its absolute perfection, from...

the Fiend :.
Superb slow-burning psychological drama - classic Hitchcock
A young woman is in Monte Carlo, working as a ladies' companion, when she meets the recently-widowered, and very wealthy, Maxim De Winter. They fall in love and get married soon thereafter. The De Winters take up residence in Maxim's family estate, Manderley. Mrs De Winter finds it hard to fit in. The presence of Maxim's deceased wife, Rebecca, seems to permeate through the house and Mrs De Winter can't shake the feeling that she is constantly being compared to her and that she is an interloper. Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca's personal maid, also takes care to make things as uncomfortable as possible for the new Mrs De Winter. Mrs De Winter has the constant fear that memories of Rebecca will drive her and Maxim apart. Over time, she grows to know more and more about Rebecca...

Brilliant psychological drama, based on a Daphne Du Maurier novel and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Carries all of the Hitchcock trademarks - the slow-burning intensity, the mystery, the psychological games, the twists and the powerful conclusion.

While the plot does develop slowly, especially in the early-to- middle section, this movie is by no means boring. More than engaging, it is a totally immersive experience. You see everything through Mrs De Winter's eyes, feeling her apprehension and fears and love for her husband.

At a point, the plot takes off and then we have intrigue upon intrigue, with some great revelations and twists along the way. Powerful, profound ending.

Excellent performances from Sir Laurence Olivier (though that's a given) and Joan Fontaine in the lead roles. Both received Oscar nominations, as did Judith Anderson for playing Mrs. Danvers. Hitchcock received his first (of five) Best Director Oscar nominations for this movie.

The movie itself won the 1941 Best Picture Oscar, beating out, amongst others, another masterpiece - The Grapes of Wrath.
Joan Fontaine is so beautiful
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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