- Alfred Hitchcock
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Saturday, September 15, 2001
Maxim de Winter, a rude, cold man full of mystery, is also a very rich nobleman, owner of Manderley, a gorgeous, gigantic estate. Life next to him isn’t easy, especially due to his sudden attacks of rage, but beneath all that lies a nice, loving man, which makes it easy for his new wife to get along with him. The real problems begin for her as they arrive to Manderley, a place that’s absolutely full of Rebecca, Maxim’s former wife. Rebecca is in the atmosphere all around. The impressive charisma, class and charm that she was full of makes it impossible for her servants to forget her. One of them, her personal maid Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), is even obsessed with her memory, and won’t let go.
The childish girl who married Maxim de Winter realizes it was a mistake to do so as she can’t fight the memory of Rebecca. Rebecca… Such a powerful woman, that she will stay there forever, and she’ll be stronger than anyone, even after death. Nobody cares about the new Mrs. de Winter; not even Maxim himself, who was absolutely in love with Rebecca and is incapable of getting over her and loving someone else… or is he?
Rebecca is the triumphant 1940 adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s stylish, classic gothic novel, a collaboration of producer David O. Selznick and director Alfred Hitchcock. This film is as much a Hitchcock as it is a Selznick. Their collaboration was more a fight of wills than anything else, but this one has the best of both (the majestic power of Selznick plus the disturbing mind games of Hitchcock), which makes it incredibly good. Probably the one thing that could’ve hurt this film badly is the slight change of the story (concerning Rebecca’s cause of death) towards the end, but the change works perfectly and doesn’t really hurt the essence of the story.
The power of the novel lies mostly in Rebecca’s presence being in fact so strong, which is achieved to perfection in the movie as well. Though we never get to see or hear the actual Rebecca, we are surrounded by her all the time, through the characters’ memories, Manderley’s items, Mrs. Danvers’ obsession and Mrs. de Winter’s fear. Rebecca is so strong and her replacement so weak, that we don’t even get to know the latter’s name, though she is the main character. All this is transferred intact from the novel to the film, but Hitchcock’s direction, George Barnes’s cinematography (probably the best of its kind) and Franz Waxman’s score sure help a lot. The delicacy of Joan Fontaine’s performance is contrasted by a strong Judith Anderson in what becomes a most maddening duo, whose shared scenes can even be qualified of sexually tense. Laurence Olivier is great as Maxim de Winter, the man whose bad temper and crazed memories don’t leave him alone. George Sanders is delightfully precise as Jack Favell, “Rebecca’s favourite cousin.”
A must-see, probably my Hitchcock favorite.
Gon C Curiel en Twitter | CriticSociety en Twitter | CriticSociety en Facebook
Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter