• George Young

Homage to Hitchcock - Rebecca (1940)

For the, ahem, more mature fans of Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca might be considered his greatest cinematic achievement. And for those of you who have not assumed room temperature, you could be right. 

Rebecca is Hitch’s FIRST truly American movie, made in conjunction with David O. Selznick, with who Sir Alfred had a productive but tense relationship over the course of several films.

A Widower, Maxim DeWinter (the dashing Laurence Olivier) takes up with a young woman (the timid, but beautiful, Joan Fontaine) in Monte Carlo. They fall in love; are married; and arrive in Cornwall two weeks later at DeWinter’s estate, Manderlay.

SIDE NOTE: For you trivia cultists, Joan Fontaine is only called Mrs. DeWinter or The Second Mrs. DeWinter throughout the film and in the credits. Her character is never given a proper name.

From the outset, Ms. Fontaine wears a veil of dread. The house is foreboding and feels as though it contains the dead spirit of Rebecca, Maxim’s first wife. This sense is only exacerbated by the stark Mrs. Danvers, the estates housekeeper.

There are plot twists and questions throughout. Here are the highlights.

-Rebecca, the first Mrs. DeWinter, died in a boating accident … or did she?

-Who is this strange ‘favorite cousin’ of Rebecca’s who drops in on Manderlay at the most inconvenient times? He’s played by the unctuous George Sanders.

-Is Mrs. Danvers capable of murder?

-Is The Second Mrs. DeWinter capable of suicide? Or of even having a real name?

The movie is beautifully art directed and the black & white cinematography is exquisite. The film holds up extremely well. You’ll be glad you found it and saved it for a rainy afternoon.

Coming your way. 

Shadow of A Doubt (1943)

And a ton of grief as to why I skipped Foreign Correspondent.

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