• Rebecca
    1 minutes 52 seconds
    Added: May 9, 2008


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Rebecca Reviews

Page 1 of 105

Super Reviewer

September 19, 2007
This was the first film Hitchcock made after moving to the U.S. to further his film career. The subject matter for this assignment is an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's eerie, gothic psychological chiller (with some romance moments) about an unnamed young woman who, after a short, whirlwind romance, marries a wealthy widower. They take up residence in his country estate Manderlay, and from there, the young woman starts to go mad, mostly because it seems that Manderlay is haunted by the spectre of her husband's first wife Rebecca. She died under mysterious circumstances, and most of the staff seem to obsessively prefer her over her replacement, especially the particularly rough and cruel Mrs. Danvers.

The film is brimming with lots of great stuff, especially a wonderful score by Franz Waxman, some great art direction, set design, gorgeous cinematography, and some excellent atmosphere, mood, and tone. This is a fine gothic psychological mystery chiller.

This was Hitchcock's only Oscar winning film (it took Best Picture in 1940), and it seems odd to me that not only did this get best picture, but that none of Hitchcock's work got any love from the Academy. To be fair, Foreign Correspondant was in competetion for the top prize with Rebecca the same year, but still, none of his great stuff from the late 50s-early 60s?

I enjoyed this film, but honestly, as much as I dig Hitch's work, I don't thnk this is Best Picture material, and it's rather overrated in general. Oh sure, I enjoyed it, but it really doesn't come off as all that special. It also doesn't help that it only somewhat seems like a proper Hitch film, something reinforced by the fact that the man himself called it a "Selznick film" instead of one of his own.

Where the acting is concerned, Joan Fontaine is decent as our protagonist, and Olivier is passable as our newlywedded widower, but I can't help but feel that he was holding back a bit. It's not a bad performance, but it should be a great one. The film does have one performance that really is quite brilliant, and that is the one given by Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers. She's the real scene stealer here. Everything about her performance and just her in general is awesome, from her voice and delivery to her mannerisms and facial expressions, especially her fiendishly eerie glare, this is one of the greatest creepy characters out there.

All in all, a decent enough film, but far from great. Maybe had Hitch had more control this could have really been a mesmerizing spectacle instead of a compromised offering from the Master of Suspense. Straight (but solid) B.
Graham J

Super Reviewer

November 13, 2011
This gothic tale has so many twists and turns, that more than 70 years later, it still has the capability to keep audiences on the edge of their seat.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

September 26, 2011
Rebecca is so many films rolled into one, it's a romance, a thriller, a horror but most importantly, it's a winner. You don't need to take it from me how beautiful Hitchcock's directing is, especially his older black and white films. The acting is fantastic, Florence Bates steals most of the early scenes but this is very much Joan Fontaine's film, she is glorious and I completely fell in love with her after this. I would say it was one of Hitchcock's best films but then I would put at least 9 others in the same category. I absolutely adored it.
Drew S

Super Reviewer

September 13, 2011
Rebecca is a bizarre movie. I can think of few films from the early 1940s that are as tonally diffuse, playful with genre, and creepingly sinister as Hitchcock's first American film; it feels less like an adaptation and more like the ramblings of a mad genius regurgitating everything he knew about film on the screen. Within two hours, the film moves from romantic comedy, to gothic horror, to chamber drama, and adds a dash of courtroom procedural at the end of it all. Though many of Hitchcock's films flirt with comedic elements, the first half hour of the film is light as a feather, and its gradual settling into neo-Victorian "threatening house" mode is almost totally vanquished in the final act by a sudden move to an inquest at the police station. Impressive though it is that Hitchcock could so seamlessly stitch all these discordant parts together, I occasionally found it exhausting, as whenever I started getting used to the film it would abruptly change its means of presentation.

I found Rebecca to be at its most effective as it prowled through the halls of Manderley, perhaps one of the most atmospheric sets Hitchcock has ever made use of. Gargantuan and suffused with shadow, the new Ms. de Winter seems almost devoured by it. It acts as a sort of menacing forebearer for all the troubles that await her - within this mansion lurk secrets, threatening figures, and de Winter's own crushing feelings that she simply can't compete with the woman her husband once had. The sensibilities of its source material, Daphne du Maurier's popular revision of Jane Eyre, are clear, but Hitchcock's own flourishes liven this house-bound chapter in the book considerably. His preoccupation with women in oppressive situations is put to great use, as Ms. de Winter has scarcely an ally amongst the denizens of Manderley. Her new husband is often absent, both physically and emotionally, and she is at odds with the inexplicably frigid Ms. Danvers. Danvers makes no secret of her fondness for Rebecca de Winter, but both Hitchcock and Judith Anderson code her as more than an obsessive maidservant. Beyond merely being frightening, there's a crypto-lesbian element to her reminiscence about Rebecca, right down to her tactile exploration of her old nightwear ("you can see my hand through it!") Rebecca herself, though never seen, feels like the most powerful presence in the house; she looms over the entire movie like a phantom, her influence poisoning every interaction made beneath Manderley's roof. Combined with the dark, oppressive aesthetic Hitchcock creates in the house, it is not a huge stretch to imagine that she is possessing Ms. Danvers and bidding her to do her will, or throwing blinds shut in the east wing while the new Ms. de Winter is watching.

Compared to the richly explored, daunting Manderley passages, the rest of Rebecca simply doesn't seem as powerful. The opening act, though frothy and fast-paced, lacks the gravity that is eventually heaped upon the viewer. Hitchcock's fondness for keeping his viewers on-guard or disoriented is evident in this drastic shift in tones, but the dry and lengthy third act feels less like a deliberate change in aesthetic and more like a misjudged narrative switch-up. As soon as Maxim and his wife leave the shack by the seaside and end up in the police station, the movie begins to plod, with a surprisingly tension-free "did he or didn't he?" conundrum for everyone (including Maxim himself) to puzzle through. Manderley's burning, though a highly resonant image to close Rebecca out on, might have had still more power if we were allowed more time there.
Alexander D

Super Reviewer

June 24, 2011
The question: Why did this win the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1940, and why is it the ONLY Academy Award-winner by Hitchcock?
Spencer S

Super Reviewer

August 4, 2010
Brooding, dark, a veil of discreet secrecy laced into every scene. These are just some of the ways to describe a story as old as time: Two people fall in love, and are thwarted at every turn by an obstacle. This sinister tale is far more complex, but the basic themes are all there. Watching the dainty and naive Joan Fontaine, my heart broke into tiny, crushed, fragments. She doesn't believe someone as dashing as Laurence Olivier's character, Maxim, could fall for her. Not only does he marry her, but whisks her away to a fantastical manor in the middle of nowhere, his wife's presence hanging from the walls, in the air, on the minds of her past servants. It takes quite a long time to build up to a sorrowful confession, and dire circumstances, all for the sake of keeping two people who doubt their own sanity from being together. Deceptively romantic, and ditto a thriller, there is lush cinematography, directing that inspires (as only Hitchcock can), and the producing eye of David O. Selznick is heard loud and clear. A grand collaboration on a story that shocked me to my core, and yet is so innocent for history's sake. Scary, hypnotic, and unknowingly horrific, this is one of Hitchcock's only films that trancends the Hitchcock genre to stand on its own as one of the greatest films of all time.

Super Reviewer

December 16, 2006
A bookish young woman enters a whirlwind romance with a debonair aristocrat but finds herself living in the shadow of his previous wife who died under mysterious circumstances. Hitchcock's genius was always in his ability to create believable ambiguity in his characters without resorting to clumsy red herrings or cinematic gimmickry, and Rebecca is one of the finest examples. Of course having a leading man of the calibre of Laurence Olivier is never going to hurt, and his haunting portrayal of a man irreversibly damaged by tragic past events is unforgettable. Joan Fontaine is also wonderful and adorable as his unnamed new bride, intimidated by her induction into an unfamiliar social class and confronted by reminders of her predecessor everywhere she looks and let's not forget Rebecca herself, one of the great femme fatales although she never actually appears on screen. Supported by a cast of some of the best English character actors of the time and containing one of the great cinematic curve balls, Rebecca is another consummate exercise in atmosphere and suspense.

Super Reviewer

January 18, 2011
Although it's one of Hitchcock's early films before he became known as the master of suspense, this is an uneven film. At times tragic and interesting. Other times, just wanting to get it over with. The last 30 minutes of the film are the reason to see it, but it's a shame that the first hour and a half couldn't compete.

Super Reviewer

January 4, 2011
Wow! An absolutely fantastic, brilliant piece of classic cinema! I've seen two of Hitchcock's most famous films, Rear Window, and Vertigo, but neither of those spoke to me as much as Rebecca. Rebecca has to be his best. The plot of the film is depressingly eerie, but irresistable all the while. Non-stop intensity from very early on until the last seconds. It was by far more intense than the other Hitchcock classics I have seen.
Joan Fontaine, as Mrs. de Winter, really is part of why the film is great. Her character deals with so much and she delivers such a realistic performance that the audience falls completely in love with her character. Never have I ever felt so strongly for the happenings of a character. Throughout the depressing story I found myself rooting her on in every scene. I love that about the film! Also Laurence Olivier is good too, as is the creepy Judith Anderson.
Also, it amazes me how so much menace and turmoil comes from a character who gets no screentime at all. Fantastic!
Brilliant masterpiece! I'm confident this is one of Hitchcock's absolute best films. It's the only one that received an Academy Award for Best Picture. Do yourself a favor and see this classic film!

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
Classic Hitchcock movie, a must see! It's both a thriller and a horror movie, and it's a nice combination. Plus great actors. why not see it?
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2010
"I've loved you, my darling. I shall always love you, but I've known all along that Rebecca would win in the end."

Rebecca begins very simply, with only the slightest hints of the twists and turns to come. After a whirlwind romance in the South of France, a young woman (Joan Fontaine in an unnamed role) is swept off to Manderly, the lavish ancestral home of her new husband, Maxim (Laurence Olivier). It doesn't take her long after arriving there to find out that the shadow of Rebecca, Maxim's deceased first wife, continues to hang over Manderly. The stress of constantly being compared to the memory of the seemingly perfect Rebecca begins to outright suffocate the young wife, and her husband's frequent outbursts of temper and preoccupation combined with the unfavorable opinions of some of the household staff becomes more and more overwhelming. All is not as it seems in Manderly, however, and hidden secrets are eventually brought to light, with life-changing consequences.

I thought Rebecca was a great movie. It initially seemed to be a light romance, before seemlessly bringing in elements of mystery and even courtroom drama. It's actually a relatively dark story, full of sordid dealings and shady characters. Quite a surprise or two is sprung on the audience before Rebecca is done, and while this doesn't seem much like a Hitchcock movie in the beginning, by the end, there is little doubt that his fingerprints are all over this. I highly recommend it.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

April 29, 2010
Not one of my favorite Hitchcock films, but it‚??s certainly a well made film with some great acting. Hitchcock‚??s visual style is always beautiful to look at. I think Joan Fontaine was my absolute favorite aspect, she gave one of her best performances in this. George Sanders and Laurence Olivier also gave some pretty good performances, I just don‚??t think they stood out like she did. The story is actually one of the most psychologically bizarre concepts he worked with and almost a precursor to Vertigo.
Cindy I

Super Reviewer

June 20, 2007
My first Hitchcock movie, my bridge from Disney to more grown-up films. And my gateway drug to my film addiction! I never knew how wonderful films could be until I saw Rebecca. That first time was thirty years ago. I was stunned by it then, and not much has changed for me since. Every time I see it, I get that same thrill.

Joan Fontaine plays a young woman (never named) who marries a rich widower named Maxim deWinter (Lawrence Olivier) after a whirlwind courtship in Monte Carlo. She returns with him to his home, Manderley, a huge spooky mansion on the rocky coast of England. Already unsure of herself, she feels threatened by all the memories of his previous, late wife -- the glamorous Rebecca of the title. More immediate threats come from the House Manager, Mrs. Danvers, who adored Rebecca and is set on destroying the girl who is trying to take Rebecca's place. As the story unfolds, secrets of what really happened to Rebecca emerge, and when that happens, it's a wallop.

All the performances are excellent. Joan Fontaine as the meek, frightened girl and Olivier as the tortured widower are both fine. But it's Judith Anderson who is the standout here. She plays Mrs. Danvers with utter malice. She makes your skin crawl with every appearance on screen. Another favorite of mine is George Sanders as Falvel, Rebecca's "kissing cousin". Sanders was always wonderful at playing snakes in the grass, and he is at his snakiest here. His first scene even involves him crawling in and out of windows!

I didn't give this film 5 stars for two reasons: 1) the back projection was obviously bad and thus distracting, and 2) it creeps me out how Maxim keeps referring to his new young wife as a child. Otherwise, brilliant. A must-see, and should be on everyone's favorite films list. Is it a romance? A murder mystery? A ghost story? You decide.

Super Reviewer

November 12, 2009
Below average adaptation
Mr Awesome
Mr Awesome

Super Reviewer

November 6, 2009
Rebecca marks Alfred Hitchcock's first hollywood studio film, and it has all the grandeur of the big hollywood classics. An attractive girl (Joan Fontaine) is traveling with an older society woman (as a paid companion) when she meets, and subsequently falls in love with wealthy aristocrat, Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier). It's a whirlwind courtship, and soon Maxim brings his new bride home to his enormous family estate. It is there the new wife begins unravelling the mystery of his first wife, the late Rebecca de Winter (Rebecca's character is so dominant that, while she's the film's title character, the new wife is only referred to in the credits as "the second Mrs. de Winter"). Maxim admires his new wife's youthfulness and beauty (and Fontaine really is striking), but seems haunted by the memory of his dead first wife. The household staff, especially Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) treat the new wife as an interloper, and keep the house as if a shrine to Rebecca (her monogram is seemingly on every article in the house). The new Mrs. de Winter is a little too timid to stand up to the bullying of the staff and feels intimidated by Maxim's upperclass friends. The memory of Rebecca extends far in the couple's world, and even in death, Rebecca seems to want to reach out and smother her replacement. Rebecca is an unusual film in that it's a Hitchcock film that doesn't necessarily feel like a Hitchcock film. Sure, there are a few moments that have Hitchcock's signature all over them (near the beginning of the film, when newlywed Maxim buys his bride a bouquet of flowers, and she's struggling to see over them, screams out Hitchcock more than anything), but overall, while the film is expertly crafted, it lacks that weird Hitchcock flavor (not that this is a bad or good thing, just different). The performances are all top notch and the story is compelling. Rebecca would make my (hypothetical) list of top 100 films, though I'm not sure how high it would rank, it'd definitely be there.

Super Reviewer

December 28, 2008
A Cinderella story that quickly turns into a nightmare.

Directed by Hitchcock and produced by David O. Selznick [Gone with the Wind], two of the giants of the golden age of Hollywood. Often times a collaboration of two such egos would result in a competitive struggle that would damage the end product but here there's just the right amount of Hitchcock's noir-ish suspense and Selznick's Hollywood pizzazz to make the whole thing work. There's not one illogical or nonsensical twist or turn in the entire screenplay. I sat, eyes glued to the TV, for an hour and a half, anxiously waiting to see what was going to happen next. Absolutely incredible, top to bottom, side to side.
Cassandra M

Super Reviewer

December 14, 2008
Alfred Hitchcock was and is still the undisputed Master of Suspense, and there is a lot of that here in his foray into Gothic horror, as the mystery surrounding the unseen yet omnipresent Rebecca will engage the viewer from its dreamy start to its bleak conclusion. This is exactly what atmospheric is supposed to be about, and in black and white, it shines. This is also what Gothic horror is in essence, and many have imitated yet come up short, most notably M. Night Shyamalan who, in trying to go for a shock twist and purported "atmosphere" only creates a bad aftertaste and a hangover the size of Mount Everest. This is, essentially, Hitchcock's first true masterpiece.

Not one performance rings false, not to the novel or to their respective interpretations. Lawrence Olivier, quite possibly one of the greatest actors that ever lived, portrays a broken man who still lives haunted by the past as he himself were still living in that unending hell. Judith Anderson embodies one of the most coldly sadistic figures in cinema history, her smooth and elegant truculence only exceeded by Anthony Hopkins' rendition of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. One can't seem to understand the way she wallows in her dead mistresses' clearly perverse nature, but that exactly she does, right down to her own end. George Sanders does what he does best: sneer, smirk, and spit line after line of practiced venom, and would be honored 10 years later in ALL ABOUT EVE. Gladys Cooper, still striking in her 50s, plays into her casual cattiness which means no harm, although her rendition of Beatrice Lacy is a little subdued from the novel's version.

And then there is Joan Fontaine. Not one of the best actresses on film, yet here, playing a role that evolves beautifully from a frightened, weak girl who is put into a situation she does not understand and who turns right at the point of losing it into a much more mature, strong woman capable of holding her own, she carries the weight of the entire drama and comes forth with flying colors. While I would have preferred Anne Baxter who would have been the exact right age for this role, Fontaine exudes so much restraint and nervousness about her character (partially to blame Olivier's treatment of her and Hitchcock's telling her the entire cast hated her), it's almost a relief when she finally decides to confront Olivier about what it the secret of Manderley. Not many roles require such a change and not many actresses would sink her teeth into a part that requires being put-upon until she can't stand no more, and this is one beautiful performance.
Sarah G

Super Reviewer

September 13, 2006
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Released: 1940
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders and Judith Anderson
Genre: Drama/Thriller/Romance
Country: USA

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.


Highly recomended watch
Mark H

Super Reviewer

June 10, 2008
Moody, atmospheric thriller.

Super Reviewer

November 1, 2007
it may not be the best hitchcock but it's my favorite...marvellously creepy, surprises at every turn
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