Brilliant psychological drama, based on a Daphne Du Maurier novel and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Carries all of the Hitchcock trademarks - the slow-burning intensity, the mystery, the psychological games, the twists and the powerful conclusion.
While the plot does develop slowly, especially in the early-to-middle section, this movie is by no means boring. More than engaging, it is a totally immersive experience. You see everything through Mrs De Winter's eyes, feeling her apprehension and fears and love for her husband.
At a point, the plot takes off and then we have intrigue upon intrigue, with some great revelations and twists along the way. Powerful, profound ending.
Excellent performances from Sir Laurence Olivier (though that's a given) and Joan Fontaine in the lead roles. Both received Oscar nominations, as did Judith Anderson for playing Mrs. Danvers. Hitchcock received his first (of five) Best Director Oscar nominations for this movie.
The movie itself won the 1941 Best Picture Oscar, beating out, amongst others, another masterpiece - The Grapes of Wrath.
First of all, I was incredibly disappointed in the performance of Laurence Olivier - I know I know , it's a sin to say that but I thought that he over typified his character and made the man really placid and stale. I understand that he is supposed to be someone who lives in a placid and stale environment but the man himself is intended to be a pretty deep running character.
I enjoyed the performance of Joan Fontaine a little bit better but still, her character represented a pretty standard variation of acting - it gets the job done but it's pretty obvious acting.
The cinematography in the movie did well for itself at times, and really not well at other times so the film kind of balances out to give you a slight cinematic taste in your mouth.
Really the only thing that is particularly remarkable about this film is the double twist in the plot - which is the point in the movie where I started actually caring what was happening.
On its own, this movie wasn't bad - and in any case it was kind of enjoyable. But I do hope that it doesn't represent the majority of Hitchcock films.
I think Joan Fontaine was robbed for not getting the Academy Award for her performance. She's absolutely perfect as the adorable and completely insecure new Mrs. De Winter who lives in the first wife's shadow and "behaves like an upstairs maid" as her husband so aptly puts it. Olivier is handsome and mysterious. The scene stealer, though, is the head maid, creepy and bizarre. Beautiful, haunting and suspenseful, this movie doesn't disappoint.