Rebecca is an ageless, timeless adult movie about a woman who marries a widower but fears she lives in the shadow of her predecessor. This was Hitchcock's first American feature, and it garnered the Best Picture statue at ... more »the 1941 Academy Awards. In today's films, most twists and surprises are ridiculous or just gratuitous, so it's sobering to look back on this film where every revelation not only shocks, but makes organic sense with the story line. Laurence Olivier is dashing and weak, fierce and cowed. Joan Fontaine is strong yet submissive, defiant yet accommodating. There isn't a false moment or misstep, but the film must have killed the employment outlook of any women named Danvers for about 20 years. Brilliant stuff. --Keith Simanton« less
I happen to LOVE this movie. It is BETTER than the book.
I LOVE Laurence Olivier, and especially love this character!.
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And de Winter Is ...
J. Michael Click | Fort Worth, Texas United States | 07/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A sumptuous film version of Daphne du Maurier's Gothic suspense novel. Brilliant direction by Alfred Hitchcock (his first American-made feature), dazzling cinematography by Oscar-winner George Barnes, and splendid art direction by Lyle Wheeler underscore impeccable performances by the entire cast. Laurence Olivier is excellent as the enigmatic Maxim, whose brooding ambivalance masks a dark secret; Joan Fontaine hits all the right notes as the confused and insecure Second Mrs. de Winter; and Judith Anderson (made up very much like Gloria Holden in Universal's "Dracula's Daughter") is chillingly repellant as the malevolent housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. These three Oscar nominees are ably abetted by George Sanders playing Rebecca's cad of a cousin, and Florence Bates as the vitriolic social butterfly Edyth Van Hopper. In what must have been an incredibly close race, this film beat out 20th Century-Fox's landmark "The Grapes of Wrath" for the 1940 Best Picture Oscar.The Anchor Bay DVD offers a fine video transfer of this classic mystery. The picture is sharp and clear with excellent contrast throughout, and the soundtrack is clean and crisp. Although the package doesn't mention it, the DVD does offer Chapter Search (always a welcome plus). There aren't any bonus materials like theatrical trailers, cast biographies, photo galleries, etc., but this is still a worthy edition of a genuine film classic."
"I'm asking you to marry me, you little fool."
Kona | Emerald City | 08/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Joan Fontaine stars as a miserably shy and awkward lady's companion who meets the sophisticated and recently widowed Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo. They seem an odd couple, yet after a few short weeks they marry and come home to his imposing English country estate, Manderley. The young bride is overwhelmed with her new, lavish lifestyle and is especially intimidated by the forbidding housekeeper who keeps her first mistress' memory and influence alive. Maxim reveals a terrible secret which forever alters the couple's life, and affects the very existence of Manderley.
This wonderfully atmospheric tale, complete with swirling fog and spooky organ music, will take you away to a world where little Cinderella really does marry the handsome prince and lives in the mysterious castle, but things have a nasty habit of going bump in the night. Joan Fontaine gives a breathtaking performance, convincing us she really is crippled with feelings of inadequacy, despite being a flawless beauty. Judith Anderson is the sneering, contemptuous housekeeper whose devotion to her former mistress turns to madness. Laurence Olivier makes a properly snobbish and mysterious Maxim and manages to be the hero despite a fatal flaw. The title character, Rebecca (the first Mrs. de Winter), is never seen but is a powerful force, as is the imposing house of Manderley. If you like gothic romances filled with 1940's elegance and lots of creepy atmosphere, you'll enjoy Rebecca."
James L. | 02/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From the opening shots and line about dreaming of a visit to Manderly again, to the final shots of Mrs. Danvers and the flames, Alfred Hitchcock creates a dark, eerie atmosphere that will remain with the viewer every time you see the film. Although Rebecca is never seen, her presence is felt throughout the entire movie. Laurence Olivier, as the late Rebecca's tortured husband is good, although I think his moods and personal torture are played too strongly. Joan Fontaine, never an actress I have especially admired, is surprisingly excellent as Olivier's new, unnamed, naive wife, thrust into a world she is unprepared to deal with. But the greatest performance of the film belongs to Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers, Rebecca's housekeeper, and consequently, Fontaine's nemesis. With her daunting profile and posture, and her chilling delivery of lines, she creates one of the most memorable film characters I have ever seen. With its winding plot, terrific performances, and the direction of Alfred Hitchcock creating tension and atmosphere on a Gothic scale, Rebecca is one of the greater suspense films I have ever seen."
Hitchcock's first American film!
Ed N | Kensington, Maryland USA | 07/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rebecca, Alfred Hitchcock's first American film, is a classic suspense thriller and his only film to win an oscar for Best Picture. It is a haunting story about a young woman (Joan Fontaine) who marries a rich widower (Laurence Olivier) and who begins to learn dark secrets about his first wife, Rebecca. I liken the tone of the film to that of Vertigo, which is probably my favorite Hitchcock film. The story has an almost supernatural, gothic feel to it, and one almost expects a ghost to appear. It is a chilling story that works very effectively and is a good demonstration of why Hitchcock is considered one of the greatest suspense-thriller directors ever.The performances are quite good. Olivier's character is like a caged animal, and one can practically feel his frustration boiling under his cool exterior. Fontaine plays her usual mousy screen persona, which is very effective at portraying the uncertainty and low confidence of the young wife. And the character of the maid....brrr. Very chilling.Those who have seen this movie before will enjoy the DVD. The transfer is quite good, and the film shows only a few minor signs here or there of its age. The image is a tad bit soft but nothing that distracts in any way from the movie. Sound, of course, is monophonic. My only real complaint about the DVD is that it is quite bare-bones. It is just the movie and nothing else. Still, this movie is a worthy addition to any collection and is a strong testament to how "they used to make 'em.""