Rebecca (1940)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Mystery, Romance


Rebecca (1940) Poster

A self-conscious bride is tormented by the memory of her husband's dead first wife.

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8.1/10
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  • "Rebecca," Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier, 1964.
  • Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in Rebecca (1940)
  • Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in Rebecca (1940)
  • "Rebecca," Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson. 1940 Selznick
  • "Rebecca," Joan Fontaine. 1940 Selznick
  • "Rebecca," Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier. 1940 Selznick

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27 October 2004 | jay4stein79-1
Joan Fontaine is so beautiful
I spent the majority of this film thinking about how lucky M. Olivier really was. To be able to wrap his arms around Joan Fontaine and kiss her. Oh my. She's one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen (almost, but not quite as beautiful as Veronica Lake). She's also absolutely perfect in the role of the second Mrs. DeWinter, taking a character that could have become a cloying bore in less capable hands and transforming her into a sympathetic and interesting figure.

The movie, on the whole, is similarly amazing, capturing the spirit and the tone of those great Gothic romances. Watching Rebecca, I was reminded (pleasantly) of Wuthering Heights; I do not mean to suggest that in some way this film re-tells the tale of Cathy and Heathcliff, but rather that Rebecca has the feel of Bronte's novel (I am most certainly not talking about the William Wyler adaptation a few years before the release of Rebecca. That's a terrible film that somehow manages to mis-interpret the novel).

I must assume that the guiding hand of Hitchcock played no small role in recreating the feel of a Gothic romance. There are very few that would be able to take a love story, infuse it with such gloom, with such a sense of foreboding, and still manage to create something that ends happily without it feeling like a cop-out. I'd also like to draw everyone's attention to the incredibly moving section of the film that occurs between the arrival of the second Mrs. DeWinter at Mandalay and the masqued ball. The emotional strain on the Joan Fontaine character is so palpable, so absolutely taxing, that it actually pains me to watch. I hurt along with her. Few other movies affect me so emotionally - one of them is Vertigo.

All in all, this is a fantastic piece of film-making from Hollywood's golden age. Laurence Olivier is in top-form, as he plays the quiet, sad Maxim and George Sanders is positively hateful.

10/10 - a visceral masterpiece

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