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Rebecca
Year:
1940
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Thriller, Mystery, Romance
IMDB rating:
8.2
Director:
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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Reviews
Haunting atmospheric treasure SPOILER ALERT
It seems almost superfluous to add to the many laudatory comments this movie has received on this site, but I feel a need to lay some tribute at the altar of this wonderful piece of classic cinema.

If you haven't seen the movie, there may be a couple of SPOILERS in this review, but hopefully also some new insights in compensation.

As many have noted, the cast is uniformly excellent: the annoying social snob Edith Van Hopper(Florence Bates), Gladys Cooper's kind, sisterly Beatrice, the eerie Mrs. Danvers of Judith Anderson, Olivier's distracted yet explosive Maxim, George Sanders' snide, oily Favell and especially the oft-times underrated second (but unnamed) Mrs. DeWinter of Joan Fontaine.

Although not entirely faithful to the Daphne Du Maurier novel, the screen adaptation preserves the haunting ambiance of Du Maurier's work. Rebecca, though never seen, is clearly the central character, but we learn about her all through indirection in the dialogue of the other characters. We are allowed to create her piece by piece in our own minds, which just adds to the engrossing, I-can't-stop-watching, thrust of the movie.

The character who actually tells us the most about the real Rebecca is Mrs. Danvers. The erotic attachment of this character to Rebecca is subtle, yet unmistakable. The wonderful scene in which Judith Anderson shows Rebecca's bedroom to Joan Fontaine is breathtaking in its suggestiveness. The West Wing, 'the only room that looks down across the lawn to the sea' has become Mrs. Danvers' private temple to Rebecca. Her loving preservation of Rebecca's possessions, her sensual handling of Rebecca's underclothes, of her diaphanous negligee, of her glamorous furs and then Anderson's almost hypnotic miming of brushing Rebecca's hair as Fontaine sits at Rebecca's dressing table all make this scene an unforgettable sequence. Anderson's acting is absolutely miraculous. She achieves her character with hardly ever a change in her affect, except where a very slight contrasting up tick in energy transforms her in the West Wing scene and in the scene where she coolly suggests that Fontaine leave-by means of a precipitous drop out of the window onto the rocks. It is a performance which I doubt could ever be duplicated.

As we later learn of Rebecca's moral character, it also seems that Mrs. Danvers was as much in love with Rebecca's corruption as she was with the woman herself. 'Danny' in a way becomes the embodiment of Rebecca's cold malevolence which still lingers in the mansion.

Joan Fontaine could hardly have been better. She, of all the characters, evolves through the movie. She moves in a seamless line from the pitiful, beleaguered companion of Mrs. Van Hopper to her drowned rat arrival at Manderley to the self-assured and supportive wife Maxim wanted and needed. What I found fascinating about this transformation is the imaginative skill of the costume designer. At the beginning, Fontaine's shy little character is dressed like she made terrible selections at a Macy's basement sale. Later as she tries to fill the role of the 'great lady' she believed Rebecca to have been, her clothes always appear too big and totally out of character. Note the black evening dress with the absurdly large flowers across the front and especially the overwhelmingly outsized Garden Party gown she tries to wear to the costume ball. After she learns the truth about Rebecca from Maxim, discovering that he actually loves her as much as he hated Rebecca, Fontaine's costumes become trim, conservative and tasteful, befitting the genuine, grown-up woman she has become.

Fittingly, the final scene belongs to Anderson-the frustrated woman robbed of her goddess--who brings the movie to a thundering operatic finish.

Although Selznick and Hitchcock repeatedly clashed over this move, it remains a deathless tribute to both men. This movie never loses its fascination and bears repeated watching, each time weaving its wonderful spell anew. It is a must-see, again and again, classic.
2004-09-02
"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.
2016-05-22
Joan Fontaine portrays a pre-Feminist Clueless Doormat !!!
I give this film a 7.5 on a 10 point scale. All of Hitch's films, though mostly good, have screenplays that are just unbelievable & improbable to some degree and "Rebecca" is certainly no exception. Fontaine's character is S-O-O Weak, Naïve, Passive, & Fragile that it lacks credibility. NO Woman, even in pre-Feminist times, could possibly be as much of a Clueless Doormat as the new Mrs de Winter. That as the new mistress of Mandalay she would have kept that witch Mrs Danvers as the housekeeper is at least very unlikely, especially when Danvers tricked the new Mrs de Winter to wear that dress for the ball. The Mrs Danvers character was rather unreal too. She was much more a caricature than a believable character. Otherwise, a very suspenseful, & well thought out storyline, with great dramatic tension, although the "dramatic" was much too "melodramatic" in my opinion. How a great director like Hitch got stuck with so many sub-par screenplays is beyond my comprehension.
2016-08-08
gripping drama, superb
I saw this film for the first time recently and there's no question it's one of the best films ever made -- it grabs and holds your attention throughout. But everybody says that sort of thing. What I want to add to the mix is that this is a film in which one of the major players (if not THE major player) never appears and in fact is dead. Who could pull that off any better than Hitchcock? I read somewhere that somebody (Selznick?) wanted a flashback during De Winter's 'confession' in the boathouse -- a flashback showing the events of that fateful evening -- but Hitchcock had the good sense to leave Rebecca unseen and dead -- the flashback would make her a 'real person' and ruin the whole effect. Good for Hitchcock. Why is Hollywood turning out only foul-mouth trash today?
2011-06-19
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.
2015-09-01
Alfred Hitchcock's latest cameo (in the movie)
I admit to being confused by the first twenty minutes or so of this film. This might be the last Alfred Hitchcock movie I ever saw as I've seen almost all his other well known films. It really is great to see this evolve into a movie truly worthy of his namesake! Almost all his films are horror or mystery or at least thriller. This is a film that definitely got better as it went along. It just got better and better atmosphere as it went on. You would think the main female character in this movie would be named Rebecca, right? Nope, that's actually her husband's deceased wife who never even appears.

It's amazing to see how much is done in this movie. The husband shows off their home movies even though they just got married. It will make more sense as more is revealed about the story. I feel bad for not finding the Hitchcock cameo in this! It turns out you can barely see his face at all and I had to watch a supercut to make sure it was him. Yeah, I'm such a nerd and I have heard of people who watch his movies just to see his cameos. It's over two hours in, a record!

The strange thing is that it begins with opening narration. It ends without any, so it's hard to tell if she's actually telling the story. It was certainly unpredictable, as expected from any of his movies. This may be one of his earliest films that's really consider one of the best of all time as it would be over ten years that "Psycho", "The Birds", "Vertigo", "North By Northwest", AND "Rear Window" would come out. It's always nice to see when an artist first becomes an expert! This is a must see for anyone. I personally don't find this as good as most of the movies that I just mentioned, but that's still a compliment for someone as good as him! Perfect ****.
2016-05-19
Classic Hitchcock Film
He is the master of suspense. And this movie is another great example of probably cinemas greatest director of all time. He never fails at surprising us at every turn of the movie, and of course given us his classic cameo moment. This movie is so impressive because of how early he made it. This was one of his first major hits, and one of his best. While I still prefer Dial M for Murder and Rear Window as his best Mystery films, this one doesn't disappoint.

Hitchcock, like several other great directors is always good at creating memorable characters, and this one has plenty. Particularly the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. I think she is the character that I will remember for years to come and I'm glad she got an Oscar nomination that year. Another thing Hitchcock is known for is the twists and turns that the story and its characters take. There is always at least one big secret hidden away in the story. Secrets that us as viewers seemingly believe our characters have no way out of, but somehow someway the story comes back around and changes our minds. Major props to the writing crew, though its based on a book, the writers did a great job making this story our own and not giving anything away until its revealed but also leaving enough clues to where the second viewing becomes that much cooler.

My only complaint would have been the length of the film, it dragged at times which lessened my hype for the ending. But it didn't make the final product as surprising as it was. But I will say the man guarding the shed definitely made me suspect that there was something not being told to us. That final scene with the house being burnt down was quite a surprise and a huge bang for this movie to go out on.

In what was a typical Hitchcock thriller, we got everything that makes goose bumps rise on our arms and all the memorable scenes that we have become familiar with in terms of a Hitchcock movie. As of now I would put this movie in the top 7 or 8 of Hitchcock movies, and that is most definitely praise.

8.8/10
2014-04-07
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.
2017-01-21
A Fine Classic
This fine classic combines a great director, a great story, and a great cast. Any one of those would have made for a good movie, but all three make it an excellent one. Hitchcock's style and eye for detail combine very well with a story (from a novel that is extremely good in its own right) filled with psychological fear and settings that are interesting and suggestive.

Most of the time the story itself moves fairly slowly, allowing the focus to be on the characters, but there are also a couple of very good plot twists, which can be very surprising if you've not seen the movie or read the novel. So if you happen not to know the story, it's a good idea to see the film before reading a lot of comments about it. Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson, and George Sanders are all perfectly cast and do a wonderful job bringing their characters to life, and making you feel a part of the story.

"Rebecca" should be satisfying not only to any Hitchcock fan, but to anyone who likes classic movies. Whether you like romance, suspense, or drama, they're all here, and put together by a director and cast that are masters of their art.
2001-07-26
Haunted by the Past
In Monte Carlo, the shy and naive lady's companion (Joan Fontaine) of the snobbish Mrs. Edythe Van Hopper (Florence Bates) meets the wealthy widower aristocrat Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) in the hotel while her employer is ill. They spend many days together and they fall in love for each other. When the youth is ready to travel to New York with Mrs. Van Hopper, Maxim proposes her and they get married to each other. The now Mrs. de Winter discovers that Maxim is disturbed with the loss of his first wife Rebecca, who died when her boat sank with her alone nearby his manor Manderlay. They travel to Manderlay, where Mrs. De Winter has a cold reception from the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), who worshiped Rebecca. Along the days, the humble Mrs. de Winter is frightened by the omnipresence of perfect Rebecca through the arrogant Mrs. Danvers. However, when the boat of Rebecca is found with her body trapped in the cabin, Mr. and Mrs. de Winter are haunted by the past.

"Rebecca" is probably is one of the most famous movies of Alfred Hitchcock in his earlier career, with a suspenseful romance with many surprises and twists. The performance of the fragile Joan Fontaine is amazing with her innocent expression and clumsy attitudes in an aristocratic world that does not belong to her, a simple working class young woman. Inclusive her character does not even have a name. Laurence Olivier makes a couple without chemistry with Joan Fontaine, in the role of a millionaire with a shadow from the past. The introduction, with Joan Fontaine telling her dream, misguides the viewers and I expected a different fate for the lead couple. George Sanders is the perfect scumbag and Judith Anderson performs a creepy character that might be homosexual grieving a non-corresponded love with Rebecca. The cinematography in black-and-white is very beautiful but the DVD released by the Brazilian distributor Continental is not remastered. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "Rebecca, a Mulher Inesquecível" ("Rebecca, the Unforgettable Woman")
2009-12-18
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