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Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca
Movie Review

 

Rebecca - Criterion Collection

5 of 5 stars Classic Suspense June 14, 2001 

The Best Picture in 1940 and an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's famous novel. It is not at all surprising this movie won two Academy Awards and nine other nominations. Through the masterful direction of Alfred Hitchcock, you will be kept in complete suspense. The newly restored version from the original negatives is presented full-frame and has been digitally mastered for optimum picture and sound. The result is a sumptuous black-and-white film that is better than I have ever seen it before. They do say this movie gets better each time you watch it, and I must agree.

The opening scenes convince you that this is going to be quite a forbidding story. A meandering path overgrown with foliage and a ghostly manor (Manderley) appears out of the Cornwall, England mist. The gothic quality is only the stage for a love story haunted by the memory of Rebecca. While this is mostly filled with suspense and mystery, there are a few moments of humor.

While a young woman (Joan Fontaine) is vacationing in the South of France as a ladies companion, she meets a wealthy widower Maxim de Winter (Lawrence Olivier). His wife, Rebecca is said to have died in a boating accident. They fall in love, marry and then he takes her home to Manderley. She is ill prepared for such a position in society and stumbles through her days trying to adapt as best she can.

"Rebecca" is the theme of this movie, yet the heroine is the second rather timid Mrs. de Winter when she rises to the occasion and takes on this ghost who haunts her husband. Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) manages the manor and seeks to keep the first Mrs. de Winter's memory alive in an almost obsessive way. She is cold and has no regard for Maxim's new wife's feelings. Judith Anderson is just magnificent in her role and her character is in a way is Rebecca's ghost personified.

The conclusion is surprising as we find out how Maxim really feels and the story unfolds one detail at a time to finish with a satisfying conclusion. You will never once think these characters are actors, they are their characters from start to finish.

You must watch this movie in complete darkness with just a few candles burning for it to be just slightly scary. One of my all-time favorite movies. Definitely worth owning!

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