Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Rebecca (1940)


Starring Laurence Olivier & Joan Fontaine

Rating 9/10

Ok, so I thought Rebecca was all about a ghost that walked the dark hallways of an old house and the housekeeper that pushed the heroine down the stairs. I thought there were moments of nightmarish terror and people jumping out screaming “boo!”, leaving my poor little heart thump, thump, thumping away (or is that another Hitchcock?)

But no, Rebecca is more in the thriller genre. It is a detective, mystery story with twist upon twist. This film is typically Hitchcock with fast zooms and exaggerated shadows. Danger lurks in every corner and on every precipice. It is about love and lies and misguided loyalty. Ooooo. This is a good ‘un.

It all begins on a cliff in Monte Carlo with a man in a suit standing on the edge of the cliff. Wasn’t Hitchcock the master of suspense? This atmosphere carries throughout this film. It is addictive. Two-thirds of the way through, I had to leave it to do a few hours of other life stuff and I was so torn; I just had to know what happened next. It is a great film that makes me salivate for more, that’s for sure.

The story is sublime. There is the brooding man, Mr de Winter (Olivier), stuck in the depths of despair. A young, inexperienced maiden (Fontaine) catches his eye. Her innocence charms him and a few days later de Winter pops the question and hey presto, there’s a new Mrs de Winter. They head back to the family mansion (as you do) to be greeted by the less than impressed staff. And here is where we meet the psychotic and evil-looking Mrs Danvers (Judith Anderson) who was hopelessly devoted (thanks Grease) to the first Mrs (Rebecca) de Winter.

The truth about Rebecca’s death is kept top secret until the last 30 minutes when slowly but surely the truth rears its ugly head. Don’t you love it when films surprise you? Ooooo, I had NO IDEA that it would end like THAT! And I won’t tell you what the real truth is, you’ll have to watch it yourself.

Hitchcock was the master of film. He still is. His passion for the freaky and disturbing is second to none. Mrs Danvers, though not the homicidal maniac I thought she was, is still chilling in her face, her eyes, her obsession with Rebecca. Very creepy indeed. Fontaine and Olivier are excellent. The setting is incredible. It all sucks you in, spits you out and has another go. A very, very enjoyable film. Full Oscar points here.

Rebecca Trivia –

  • Budget – $1,288,000 (nothing on Gone With the Wind but still up there!)
  • Rebecca‘s Produceer, David O. Selznick also worked on Gone With the Wind, so it was a great two years for Davo.
  • This is the only Hitchcock film to win a Best Picture Oscar, shame Hollywood, shame!
  • It is reported that Olivier was awful to Fontaine because he wanted his girlfriend Vivien Leigh to play opposite him. To increase Fontaine’s nervousness (and thereby making her character more believable), Hitchcock told her that everyone on set hated her.
  • Hitchcock chose to shoot the film in black and white to add to the dark feel of the story.

That’s Rebecca. Next week we head to the hills in How Green was My Valley. From memory, it is a bit of a tear jerker. Be prepared with a nice cuppa and a box of tissues!!!

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One comment on “Best Picture – Rebecca (1940)

  1. Kaye
    December 7, 2010

    Wow can’t wait to watch that one sounds interesting and what a horrible man Hitchcock was to her!!!

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