*Sarah* - wrote on 12/29/08
When a naive young woman marries a rich widower and settles in his gigantic mansion, she finds the memory of the first wife maintaining a grip on her husband and the servants
Having seen the majority of a least most of Hitchcock's films I felt I had to check out Rebecca, which I should have seen many years ago. Rebecca is as great as everyone says it is and should be considered a UK film and not USA, but at the time Hitchcock went to Hollywood and was given American funding for most of his work in the late 1940s, so perhaps this was to be expected. Still an awful shame considering the majoirt of the cast are English, as was the director, locations and bits and pieces of the script contains dialogue that is associated with English people. But that's a small annonance that I have.
Rebecca was nominated for eleven Academy awards back in 1941, and won 2 of them. Three were for acting, which was well deserved. Laurence Oliver, with his English charm and gives out an instant attraction to the viewer that imediatly makes you sympathise with the character of Mximum De Winter and feel what Fontaine's character feels for him throughout the film. Both leads Oliver and Fontaine are just breathtaking to watch. You feel this instant affliliation with them both and want their marraige to work, despite the problems encuntered in the first part of the film. Fontaine, who's work I haven't seen an awful lot of, has this innocent youthfullness in her, which Maximum does mention, which instantly makes you feel for her and in some ways, relate to. Great supporting role by Judith Anderson as the sinister Mrs Danvers, obsessed by the previous Mrs De Winter, deliveres a marvallous performance which leaves you feeling scared, just like Fontaine's character.
Rebecca is a flawless Hitchcok picture which is effortlessly directed by Hitchcock ans delivers enough twists and turns that you wouldn't often seen in a modern orginal Screenplay. The beauty of this film is that even if you think you know what's about to come you will be pleasantly suprised. Which is absolutly amazing for a film 68 years old. The film spans nearly two hours and half way through the film you feel like you've seen an awful lot but all it is is Hitchcock's superb script and direction which makes you feel speechless-well me anyway.
Rebecca won best picture at the time and one for the superb cinematography which adds to the erriness of the backdrop to the film. For instance in the opening scene's narration, which seen glimpses of cliffs, which already gives an inclination of the end of the film. Oddly you don't predict the outcome, which I can't give away too much about. and the scenes of Mnderly, especially when the two leads arrive is beautiful to watch, even for a film done in 1940. I love the fire scenes at the end , which again ididn't expect, is still done so so well for a feel almost 70 years old. Also worth mentioning the art direction, for instance in many of the rooms the late Mrs De Winter resided in, is beautifully done and showcases how loves the character was and the differences in the late Mrs De Winter and the current one, played by Joan Fontaine.
The script is wonderfully crafted and perhaps was some sort of inspiration for Hitchcok's later film Vertigom which has a similar storyline. The dialogue given by each character is realistic and right for every character. The scenes between Olivier and Fontaine are filled with chemistry, mainly due to the superb dialogue. Oddly we are never told the name of Joan Fontaine's character throughout the film. Her character also changes thought the two hours and seems to blossom into a woman.
Interestingly, I'd forgotton this was a film of the 1940's as it feels lighyears ahead of it's time. This could very well be one of my favourite Hitchcoks films and one of my favourite films. I can't recomend this film enough. engaging throughout and still has many suprises that you will not see coming.
I say this a lot with Hitchcock, but an absolute masterpiece.