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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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for me - the film of Judith Anderson. her performance defines the atmosphere and the rhythm and the cold air of a remarkable adaptation. in same measure, she seems be the perfect axis for bright the performances of Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontain. because it is more than a good film or high level adaptation. it is a pure Hitchcock, impressive for each detail and nuance, fascinating for the tension and for the strange evolution of story, against the obvious remark than it is a film of his actors.because it has a not small dose of magic in each scene. because it reminds old dark fairy tales and the emotion is the same front to the brothers Grimm stories. that does it a masterpiece.
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.
Did he do it?
I was so scared when I watched this film as a kid. Mrs. Danvers is scarier than any vampire, she appears and disappears almost like a ghost, so ominous it's clear something must be terribly wrong with this household. One almost expects her to announce, "This is Hell and I am the Devil." For the young woman that moves into this house (Joan Fontaine), she sure is. A new wife of the owner, Max de Winter, she feels small and insignificant, constantly unfavorably compared to Rebecca, the deceased first wife, by Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper. We see her roaming about the gigantic house, lost and confused. She doesn't even have a name and Rebecca does, still the lady of the manor, as ever. We never see a picture of Rebecca though, and our mind, just like the young Mrs. de Winter's, can't stop trying to imagine the greatest beauty to ever grace the earth. She was prettier than Joan Fontaine! Her husband Max, played by Laurence Olivier, doesn't help her much with his constant put-downs. Olivier was perhaps a better film actor than he had thought of himself. The film shifts from romcom, to psychological, to very real horror. Cynics would say, the natural stages of any marriage. But in the masterful hands of Alfred Hitchcock, it's art. The Selznick production - impeccable, as always. Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers will forever give me nightmares. Oh, the glory days when women were villains!
Hitchcock & Selznick's Superb du Maurier Adaptation
"Last night I dreamed I went to Manderlay again..." and so begins one of the most captivating films from Hollywood's golden era. A superb adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's best selling novel, "Rebecca" was Alfred Hitchcock's first American directorial assignment, although producer David O. Selznick's strong influence is evident. While lacking the color and historical spectacle of "Gone with the Wind," Selznick's follow-up to his 1939 blockbuster shares lush production values, a thickly romantic atmosphere, and flawless performances with its illustrious predecessor. Both classics were adapted from popular novels, and both won Academy Awards for Best Picture.

Du Maurier's well known mystery centers on a never-seen, but exquisitely beautiful and admired woman, Rebecca, who dies tragically before the story begins; however, she casts a dark shadow over her husband, his young second wife, and Manderlay, a stately seaside estate in Cornwall. The mystery-romance unfolds before George Barnes's Oscar-winning camera work, which emphasizes velvety blacks, window-cast shadows, and rainy reflections on a grandfather clock. Franz Waxman's lush score weaves its own web throughout the film with an appropriate mix of romantic themes and suspense.

In front of the camera, Hitchcock drew memorable performances throughout. Sporting a mustache and a touch of grey, Laurence Olivier embodies the handsome Cornish aristocrat, Maxim de Winter; smooth, cultured, refined, and harboring a dark secret. With a voice born for sarcasm, George Sanders steals his scenes in a snide, cunning performance as Rebecca's "favorite" cousin. Mrs. Danvers ranks among cinema's most beloved villains, and Judith Anderson is cold, impassive, and riveting. Also called "Danny" in a sly allusion to her lesbian infatuation with the title character, Anderson excels in a restrained, yet hypnotic scene, where she fondles Rebecca's furs and caresses her lingerie; the actress says everything that the Production Code forbade about Danver's relationship with Rebecca. Florence Bates is another scene stealer as Mrs. Van Hopper, Joan Fontaine's employer; selfish, self absorbed, catty, and unforgettable. In support, Selznick sprinkled in such veterans as Gladys Cooper, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denny, C. Aubrey Smith, and Leo G. Carroll to fill out an exceptional cast.

Although easily overlooked among the bounty of rich performances and skilled thespians, Joan Fontaine's portrayal of the second Mrs. de Winter is exquisite throughout. Still in her early 20's, Fontaine's subtle growth from shy insecure travel companion, dominated by her overbearing employer, to self-assured supportive wife is masterful and never calls attention to itself; on a subsequent viewing, fans should focus on Fontaine throughout and marvel. While Fontaine grows as a woman, she also becomes closer to Olivier as the story unfolds; initially, Olivier kisses her chastely on the forehead, retains a distance between them, but, as the secrets spill, Olivier reaches out to her and, eventually, they kiss on the lips.

Hitchcock's final image in "Rebecca" foreshadows that in "Citizen Kane." A silk pillow embroidered with an "R" is consumed by flames; a year later, Orson Welles ended his masterwork with a sled emblazoned "Rosebud" also engulfed in flames. Like the Welles classic, "Rebecca" is a timeless film that bears repetition. Despite familiarity with plot and ending, the film is like an old friend, and a return to Manderlay is always cozy, comfortable, and welcome.
One of the Great Hitchcock Classics
It is strange that after arriving in Hollywood from Britain, Alfred Hitchcock should have chosen to base his first film upon a novel by Daphne du Maurier, the same author, who had provided him with the material for the last film of his British period. "Jamaica Inn" was one of his few failures, a minor-league costume drama that is today of little interest except to Hitchcock completists. With "Rebecca", however, he achieved one of his greatest successes, even though the story is hardly typical of his work.

A number of Hitchcock's films, such as "The 39 Steps" or "North by North-West" end up with the hero and heroine falling in love, but are nevertheless essentially suspense films with an element of romance. "Rebecca", however, is essentially a romance with elements of suspense. Indeed, it starts out as a romantic comedy. A young woman (we never learn her name) staying on the French Riviera with her employer Mrs Van Hopper, meets and falls in love with Maxim de Winter, a handsome older widower. There is a brief comic sequence as the two lovers try to outwit the overbearing, bullying Mrs Van Hopper and escape back to England.

With the shift in location to England, the mood of the film becomes darker and more serious. We learn that Maxim is the wealthy owner of Manderley, a stately home near the Cornish coast, and that he was widowed about a year earlier when his first wife Rebecca drowned in a boating accident. The new Mrs de Winter finds it difficult to adapt to her new role as the mistress of such a large house, especially as she feels that everyone, including the servants and Maxim's friends, is comparing her unfavourably with the beautiful and accomplished Rebecca. Maxim reveals to her that his first marriage was an unhappy one as Rebecca was compulsively promiscuous and betrayed him with a number of lovers. This revelation does not, however, put her mind at rest, because evidence soon comes to light that suggests that Maxim may have killed Rebecca out of jealousy.

The "suspense" elements of the film only occur near the end, when Maxim has to struggle to clear himself from suspicion of murder. There are no typical Hitchcock set-pieces like the crop-duster in "North by North-West" or the shower scene in "Psycho". This is, however, one of the most atmospheric of Hitchcock's films. Although it was shot in California, the morning mists, the pine trees by the rocky coast and the Gothic mansion are all suggestive of England. (I suspect that if Hollywood were to make the film today they would try to Americanise it, but in the forties their attitude to British literature was generally more respectful).

In a way this is a ghost story, although not in the literal sense of a tale of supernatural happenings. Manderley may not be literally haunted, but it is permeated by Rebecca's spirit. The old house is solid and luxurious, but it also has an oppressive air, especially for Mrs de Winter. (Max Ophuls was to conjure up a similar atmosphere in "Caught", made a few years later). Rebecca does not actually appear in the film; she does not appear in the book either, but that is a first-person narrative told from the viewpoint of her successor. In the film, where the first-person perspective is largely abandoned, it would have been much easier to show her in flashback, but Hitchcock chose to resist this temptation. In my view he was right to do so. Rebecca is far more frightening as an unseen but malevolent and brooding presence than she would be if seen in the flesh.

Mrs de Winter is an outsider at Manderley, partly because she is from a less privileged social background than Maxim, partly because she is the only character who never knew Rebecca personally. Maxim was probably attracted to her precisely because she was so unlike Rebecca. As she is supposed to be somewhat plain and dowdy, Joan Fontaine, one of the most attractive actresses of the period, was perhaps not physically right for the role. (Joanna David, in the 1979 TV production, seemed closer to du Maurier's conception of the character). Nevertheless, Fontaine's interpretation of the role is a very good one, making her shy and bewildered but possessed of an inner strength which enables her love for Maxim to survive.

Laurence Olivier is also good as Maxim, bringing out the two sides of his character. On the one hand he is the calm, self-possessed English gentleman, on the other a man haunted by his past. The other performance which stands out is that of Judith Anderson as the sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers. Always dressed in black, with a severe hairstyle, moving silently through the house, Mrs Danvers initially greets the new Mrs de Winter with an icy formality, but gradually becomes her chief tormentor. Although this could not be explicitly stated in the forties, there is a strong hint that Mrs Danvers is a lesbian and that she might have been in love with Rebecca. Certainly, the scene in which she stands lasciviously pawing her late employer's underwear is highly suggestive.

It certainly seemed eccentric of the Academy to give this film the "Best Picture" award while withholding "Best Director" from Hitchcock. 1940 was, however, a very strong year in the history of the cinema and, excellent film though "Rebecca" is, I am not sure that it is necessarily a greater one than John Ford's "The Grapes of Wrath", Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" or "The Philadelphia Story", all of which were nominated. I suspect that the decision to give "Best Picture" to "Rebecca" and "Best Director" to Ford may have been a deliberate attempt to spread the honours more evenly. Nevertheless, "Rebecca" remains one of the great Hitchcock classics. 8/10
The longer it goes, the better it gets
A young, sweet and naive girl from humble origins (Joan Fontaine) catches the eye of a wealthy aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier). One whirlwind romance later they're married and moving back into his ancestral home called Manderley. But almost immediately she has to start dealing with begrudging staff and the proverbial ghost of the previous Mrs. de Winter.

The film managed to surprise me pleasantly. Because let me tell you, the first third of this film is boring. It's so absolutely boring. A young woman moves into an old manor, terrible things start to happen, et cetera, et cetera. But, seeing that this was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it really shouldn't have surprised me that it didn't remain that boring. The movie changed directions abruptly, and then again. When it got to the final few minutes, I'd call it outright brilliant.

Hitchcock also manages to inflict the film with a lot of flair. It was his debut in the United States and was met with almost universal approval, including Hitchcock's first and only Academy Award for Best Picture. And I'd say it's earned. It's an old movie, but filled with a lot of neat tricks and touches. Things you'd nod your head approvingly at even in modern films. The mood is built with almost surgical precision, the soundtrack supports this beautifully and the characters keep revealing new sides of themselves.

Is it the best film Hitchcock ever made? No, it's not, but it's still a great watch for all fans of mystery and suspense. And quite a different love story as well, if you're looking for that as well.
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 :.
Alfred Hitchcock's overrated Best Picture Oscar winner "Rebecca" isn't the best of his career
In case you haven't noticed, I'm a huge fan of director Alfred Hitchcock and his films. So naturally, you'd think I'd like the 1940 mystery "Rebecca", the only film in his career to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, right? Wrong! In fact, I don't think the Academy Awards are a credible source to find the greatest films of all time since a couple of them don't even hold up well. I'll go even further by saying that after the two times I've seen this particular film, I've been very underwhelmed by what I saw.

"Rebecca" tells the story of a young woman (Joan Fontaine) who meets and falls in love with a wealthy widower (Laurence Olivier). These two get married within a few weeks and he takes her to his massive mansion with a great number of employees where they'll spend their honeymoon together. The housekeeper (Judith Anderson) doesn't seem to be very fond of the new bride. And as this couple spends more time there, she begins to become haunted by the memory and presence of his first wife. She becomes haunted to the point where her husband seems to be affected by the memory of his wife as well.

From what I just described, the plot wouldn't sound like a Best Picture Oscar winner, would it? Regardless, critics and audiences seem to declare this as a very good film. While I admit that this film is far from terrible and admit to being invested in the film's first couple minutes, it later became too silly and redundant for my taste. But what do I like about "Rebecca" that is worthy of mentioning? Well, the black and white cinematography is pretty sharp and it serves the underlying dark tones of the widower's castle-like mansion well. The performances by Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson are very strong and their characters enrich the drama as they're supposed to. I found that Franz Waxman's musical score had the right tone for this type of dark story that was being told.

For me, "Rebecca" goes downhill when the newly married couple gets to the mansion since the film then operates on a mechanical, repetitive narrative rhythm and sticks to it seemingly for the rest of the film. The couple has a strange conflict, but then everything's okay again. The couple has a strange conflict, but then everything's okay again. The film practically repeats itself and the narrative as a result becomes less and less interesting. I didn't even really know what happened in the last half hour of the picture, that's how inconsistent the narrative became.

For that matter, the conflicts or parts of the picture where the couple suspects something unusual is happening in the mansion weren't that exciting. Maybe the reason why was because the story wasn't that thrilling in the first place due to the fact that I didn't know if it was supposed to be scary. I wasn't sure what to feel and how to feel about the events that take place. As a result, I kind of gave up caring and got bored by the film. I wouldn't go so far as to say that this is a bad Hitchcock picture. However, I would say that it's an overrated one due to its repetition and lack of any real thrills. Given the films that Alfred Hitchcock had made throughout his distinguished career, there were some films of his that were more deserving of the Best Picture Oscar than "Rebecca".
I'm not much of a book reader but I LOVED the book and was very excited in school to watch this movie... then right from the beginning I was severely disappointed. The characters didn't reflect the writers picture of what they should have looked like and the acting was way over dramatized. It seems in many cases Hollywood ruins movies for the readers of the original books points of view. Was the acting good in this movie? Yes Was the directing good? Sort of... Was the casting correct and true to the story? NO I never understood why this movie was so popular... probably because most of it's viewers hadn't ever read the book before and since Hollywood loves to change things to make them "better" people didn't notice. If you want to see an amazingly accurate version of this wonderful book, watch the version from 1997 by Masterpiece Theatre staring Charles Dance as Maxim and Emilia Fox as Mrs. de Winter. The casting was PERFECT as was the acting. All the characters fit especially Mrs. de Winter who is supposed to be a little quiet mousy thing of a girl, very naive, who isn't all about glamor like the Mrs. de Winter depicted in the original film, who looked more like Rebecca than the character she was cast to play.
Alfred Hitchcock at his finest
Brilliantly edited and photographed filming of the famous Daphne du Maurier novel. Because other films of this era are today available in technicolor and this one only in black and white although it seems technicolor might be preferable on a reissue the artful brilliance of the photography and editing in capturing the mood and setting of the novel display Hitchcock at his most brilliant. Judith Anderson, Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Nigel Bruce, George Sanders, Gladys Cooper and Florence Bates seem most memorable among the strong from top to bottom cast. The argument less of the story is filmed than in the two still available today on DVD remakes seems of less importance than a stunning film which visually and aurally holds your interest in total delight and enticement from beginning to end.
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