Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekend Cinema Spotlight: Rebecca

"Rebecca" (1940)

When you think of suspenseful movies, the kind that leave you shivering, Alfred Hitchcock should quickly pop into your head. Hitchcock was a unique and driven director who directed such films as North by Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), and The Birds  (1963). One of my all time favorites is Marnie (1964) starring the ever-so-handsome Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren who also stars in "The Birds" as well as being Melanie Griffith's mother.

Trailer for "Rebecca" (1940)

The film begins with woman speaking these words, "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again", to the images of a ruined country manor. She continues that she can never return to Manderley — as it no longer exists, except as a ruin. It begins with a haunting...of a home that is no longer a home but a shell of itself.

We then meet a young, attractive woman who is never named played by Joan Fontaine (who also happens to be the sister of Olivia de Havilland who played the part of Melanie Wilkes in "Gone with the Wind". Both women are still alive today!) who is an orphan and works as a companion for an older, wealthy woman. While she is with Mrs. Van Hooper she meets the aristocratic (and wealthy) Mr. Maximilian (Maxim) de Winter played by Sir Laurence Olivier. They fall in love and are married soon after.

Maxim moves his young bride to his family estate of Manderley and soon after she begins to notice that the former Mrs. de Winter never really left at all. Her office was kept the same and her bedroom which was off limits to everyone was kept exactly as she left it. I find it eerie to be in a home where you are supposed to be happy and in love only to find your husbands ex-wife memory is preserved everywhere and in everything that you do. Mrs. Danvers played by Judith Anderson seemed almost obsessed with her former employer, the first Mrs. de Winter. Her performance was outstanding and incredibly believable. She would just creep up to the new Mrs. de Winter and almost taunt her with the memory of Maxim's first wife. In one instance she even encourages her to commit suicide!

Mrs. Danvers trying to convince Mrs. de Winter to take her
own life in order to continue to preserve the memory of Rebecca
and to keep Manderley as Rebecca's home only.

As the movie unfolds we learn that Rebecca de Winter had kept many lovers and that she and Maxim decided they would maintain a cordial relationship in order to keep good standing with society and to preserve his family name. Unfortunately one of her  lovers was also her cousin named Jack played by George Sanders (he was also in "All about Eve" among many other amazing films). Jack was always suspicious that Maxim had something to do with Rebecca's death.

After Rebecca's decomposed body is found in a boat, the authorities become suspicious of Maxim. Through the help of the second Mrs. de Winter and Rebecca's doctor played by Leo G. Carroll, the truth of what really happened to Rebecca comes forth. That my dears I will leave to you to discover. Oh my-telling you the ending would surely destroy the suspense and its so worth it, so very worth it!

The film does have a bitter-sweet yet happy ending. And Mrs. Danvers's creepiness does not disappoint, it continues to live on in her final scenes as Manderley burns to the ground. This film is based on Daphne du Maurier novel written in 1938 named "Rebecca". Hitchcock's film version remained true to the novel with little subtle changes and innuendo's especially when it came to Mrs. Danver's sexual orientation (which some believe could explain her obsession and unnatural dedication to Rebecca even after her death).

Vivien Leigh as Mrs. de Winter?

Images of the flawless Rebecca de Winter is never shown but many believe Vivien Leigh would have fit that role perfectly. After you watch the film, think about it, perhaps you  might agree if not let me know who you think could have filled the large-than-life shoes of the first Mrs. de Winter.

I choose this film because even though it is not considered a horror film it has so many qualities that leave you chilled to the bone. I cannot imagine being in the second Mrs. de Winter's shoes, can you? The eeriness of that estate, even the name Manderley just makes me shiver..."Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again".



  1. Ooo - sounds like a GREAT movie! I might hunt down the book and read it :)

  2. Oh my it really is! AFter you rd the bk let me know what you thought of it!! xox

  3. I LOVE this movie. I first saw it quite a few years back and was actually so moved by the piece that "rebecca" became a password to many different accounts. It's a shame that most motion pictures today don't have the depth of layers that this film has to offer. Thank you for posting!

  4. Thanks Mr. V :) I couldnt agree more-thank goodness we have so many classic films to enjoy today! PS Remember Fast and the Furious haha! xox

  5. I love the book and the movie :). Nowadays I think that Natalie Dormer could perfectly play Rebecca.

  6. Yes, natalie dormer would fit the perfect play as rebecca I was just talking to a friend how natalie dormer could play a Bio, or a documentary about vivien, because they look alot alike, and have the attitude for the rebecca role, they are very alike in many ways.

  7. One of the best movies of all time.....not just because it is my namesake. The actress Judith Anderson who plays the creepy Mrs Danvers is from my home town, lil' ol ' Adelaide in South Australia


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