Rebecca

1940

Rebecca

Critics Consensus

Hitchcock's first American film (and his only Best Picture winner), Rebecca is a masterpiece of haunting atmosphere, Gothic thrills, and gripping suspense.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 54

92%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 39,395
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Movie Info

The second Mrs. de Winter is a shy and naive young woman, besotted with charming and urbane Maxim de Winter. They meet and fall in love while vacationing on the Riviera, and after a speedy marriage, return to Maxim's vast English estate, Manderly. His wife is introduced to an army of servants who immediately, if subtly, display hostility towards her, as they all adored Rebecca, Max's first wife, whose death is shrouded in mystery. As the servants become more hostile, the second wife grows more fearful, until she eventually learns the secret of what really happened to Rebecca.

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Critic Reviews for Rebecca

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (10)

Audience Reviews for Rebecca

  • Mar 27, 2016
    A stupendous film with an exceptional direction, a stunning art direction and cinematography, and excellent performances from Olivier, Fontaine and Anderson, even if the suspenseful plot seems to diverge a bit from its main course in a last third full of too many twists and turns.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 12, 2014
    I'm sorry, I understand that this film is ostensibly sophisticated and whatnot, likely just because it's old, but even though I haven't watched "South Park" in quite some time, I can't help but think of that song that Kyle sang to the homeschooled girl in "Hooked on Monkey Fonics" that went something like, "Rebecca, you really are quite good-looking; you're a fox!" Well, come to think of it, the only other songs to refer to that are named "Rebecca" are by comedy rock duo "Flo & Eddie", and pop songs by Japan's Nokko and Russia's Tesla Boy, so I guess there's no making a non-comical song reference here. Well, I'm sticking with the "South Park" one, because even though Joan Fontaine isn't playing the titular Rebecca, even though she is the lead, she really was quite good-looking, as Alfred Hitchcock could have told you. Hey, we all know about how Hitchcock was as big of a flirt as he was big, so I find his bringing Fontaine back for "Suspicion" pretty, well, suspicious, as though he was getting used to American women... Or British-American women... who were born in Tokyo, or whatever Joan Fontaine was. Seriously though, folks, get your celebration on, because this marked Hitchcock's first of many American projects, or at least that's what they said it was, even though Laurence Olivier's presence pumps up the British factor something fierce. Oh well, this is still a decent start to quite the run for Hitchcock as an honorary American treasure, despite the shortcomings. Not even giving you the courtesy of a lead with a definitive name, this film opens right up providing hardly any extensive background information, and when it comes to gradual exposition, it too gets to be lacking, largely because there are moments in which major plot points feel slapdashed in the narrative's structure. The film's story concept offers lot of potential for material that ultimately all too often feels all too hurried in its coverage, yet the final product still runs well over two hours, getting to that point on the back of excessive filler, if not material that not only gets to be repetitious, bloats the efforts' overall dramatic structure. Of course, the melodrama's depth is bloated enough, not so much in material, but in subtlety, because in entering Hollywood, Alfred Hitchcock sees Hollywood histrionics all throughout Philip MacDonald's and Michael Hogan's script, whose subtlety issues range from off-putting to glaring, and abate only so often. While genuine enough in its portrayal by the storytellers and performers, this story is a little too melodramatic for its own good at times, and that shakes the intrigue of this opus, which would certainly be more interesting if it wasn't so blasted familiar, on top of being so blasted histrionic. I want to say that there is something to this film that feels genuinely refreshing for the time, yet in so many more areas, this film wasn't anything all that new back in the day, and has certainly not gotten any more unique through the ages, nor has it gotten any more meaty. Intrigue is there, sure, but it's limited enough by the minimalism of this melodrama, whose limited potential still goes betrayed by the expository shortcomings and structural inconsistencies that thin a path which is made rocky enough by familiarity ultimately proves too lacking to be all that worth remembering. The film is relatively forgettable, but not especially so, being, as I've said, a fairly intriguing dramatic thriller, and one that also aesthetically impresses. With this film, composer Franz Waxman began a brief, but major collaborative relationship with Alfred Hitchcock that did indeed start out well, for although Waxman's score is generic, its subtle tonal dynamicity and consistent tastefulness beautifully sustains a consistent degree of aesthetic intrigue, arguably topped by visual style that George Barnes flavors up with lovely cinematography whose outstandingly intense celebration of shadow thoroughly haunts. The film makes good use of its somber black-and-white palette, looking mighty good time and again with a gothically mesmerizing visual grace that is not only beautiful in a way which had to have set quite the standard for visual style during Hitchcock's pre-color era, but fits this bleak, almost noirish drama like a glove. Of course, style wouldn't bond with substance with such realization if it wasn't sold in such an effective manner by Hitchcock, whose debut performance as a Hollywood director cannot overshadow the script's and, for that matter, overall story concept's shortcomings, but incorporates enough British audacity to storytelling to draw thoughtfulness over subtlety issues, and depth over an undercooked affair. Hitchcock does what he can, and it's not enough to secure the final product as truly rewarding on the whole, but then-sold and still-compelling highlights in storytelling bring the final product to the brink of such a point, doing justice to a story concept that does, in fact, have meat to justify. A minimalist dramatic thriller, this film's narrative's juice is sensitive, and screenwriters Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan water it down with underdevelopment, inconsistencies, subtlety issues and, of course, conventions, but when it is drawn upon with genuine inspiration, Hogan and MacDonald transcend Hollywood superficialities with a compelling meditation upon heavy subject matter and worthy characterization. The latter acts are particularly inspired, providing glimpses of a strong drama so prominent that the film comes close to that point, though not without a consistent inspiration to the performances from a star-studded cast of talents, from which the leads stand out, with Laurence Olivier being charismatic and, at times, dramatically piercing as a respectable man with dark secrets, while Joan Fontaine, as a woman without a definitive name, convinces as an audience avatar in an intriguing noir, while selling her character by her own right through solid emotional layers. Fontaine and Olivier, when given the opportunity to, carry the film, helping quite a bit in bringing the final product to a rewarding state that may be fallen short of, yet is within view enough for the final product to stand as very decent, if ultimately a touch forgettable. Overall, underdevelopment, uneven pacing, histrionics and conventions thin a narrative of limited meat enough to hold the final product back as kind of underwhelming, but not so far back that strong scoring and cinematography, inspired telling of intriguing subject matter, and solid performances - especially those by Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine - fail to prove to be enough to make Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca" an endearing and often biting, if ultimately forgettable dramatic thriller. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Feb 20, 2014
    Olivier in a role free from Shakespeare is as fantastic as Joan Fontaine in piecing together the lives of a couple living under the shadow of a first wife. The intrigue is phenomenal.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2012
    "Rebecca" could use a good twenty minutes trimmed from its running time, which stems from an exposition that is needlessly overlong, but it does have an intriguing central mystery that succeeds in maintaining viewer interest. It's strikingly shot and features quality acting from Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and George Sanders. Another fine outing for director Alfred Hitchcock.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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