Rebecca (1940) Film Review A+

Joan Fontaine

DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchcock
Produced by: David O. Selznick
Screenplay: Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison.
Adaptation: Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan.
Cinematography: George Barnes
Edited by: W. Donn Hayes
Original Score: Franz Waxman
Distributed by: United Artists
Starring: Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Judith Anderson, George Sanders, Reginald Denny, Gladys Cooper, Florence Bates and C. Aubrey Smith.
BOTTOM LINE: While working for Mrs.Van Hopper (Florence Bates) in Monte Carlo, a young woman (Joan Fontaine) becomes acquainted with Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), a recent widower. After a brief courtship, they become engaged. They marry and then head to his mansion in England, Manderly. Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), the head housekeeper at Manderly, is obsessed with the memory of Maxim’s first wife, Rebecca, who died under mysterious circumstances, and she despises the new Winter, whom she belittles at every opportunity. “Rebecca” marked the arrival in Hollywood (courtesy of “Gone with the Wind,” producer David O. Selznick) of the man who was, or would eventually become, the greatest director in the history of cinema. Superb performance by Joan Fontaine, who showed that she was every bit as talented as her sister, the great Olivia de Havilland. Hitchcock preferred casting gay actors in gay parts, whether it was Judith Anderson (Mrs. Danvers) or Farley Granger and John Dall in “Rope.”

Hitchcock’s cameo: 2:06:57 He is the man in a bowler hat and trenchcoat who crosses paths with George Sanders.


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