Alfred Hitchcock

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        Rebecca (1940)
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        • Dvd Release Date: 1 Jan 2008
        • Region: 2 (UK & Europe)
        • Number of Discs: 1

        • Certificate: PG
        • Studio: Fremantle

          Director Alfred Hitchcock's first Hollywood film is a sumptuous and suspenseful adaptation of author Daphne du Maurier's romantic novel, produced by David 0 Selznick, immaculately played and rightly awarded the Oscar for best picture.

        Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter is superb, but it's mousey Joan Fontaine who is a revelation as the second Mrs de Winter<. Lovers of lesbian subtexts will have a field day with Judith Anderson's sinister housekeeper, Mrs Danvers, as Hitchcock circumvents the censors who forced plot changes to the original story to accommodate the Hays Code.

        This brilliant adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's classic novel stars Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. It was Hitchcock's first Hollywood film and won an Oscar for Best Picture. A timid young girl marries the handsome but troubled Cornish Landowner Maxim de Winter, but very soon realises that her life is dominated by the image and memories of her husband's first wife, Rebecca.

          “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again”
          - Narrates the second Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca

        The housekeeper, still devoted to Rebecca, makes the second Mrs. de Winter's life a misery. Soon after Rebecca's death is revealed as suicide, events take another dramatic turn, finally casting aside the spectre of Rebecca.


      • Olivier's role was originally offered to Ronald Colman by producer David O. Selznick. Colman turned it down because his character was a murderer and that the film would focus too much on the female characters. William Powell and Leslie Howard were also considered before it went to Olivier.

          Olivier was 32 years old when the film was shot; Fontaine 22

      • For the female lead, Selznick was determined to create a media frenzy as big as that for the quest for Scarlett O'Hara for his previous production Gone With The Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939). Eventually, more than twenty actresses would be screentested, including Margaret Sullavan, Olivia de Havilland, Vivien Leigh (Olivier's then fiancee) and Anne Baxter. The choice of Fontaine was not a popular one, summed up by Olivier, who at one point said to Hitchcock: 'Fontaine's horrible, ol' boy!' Not that gallant and in my experience very unfair. She always thought of her fans and would sign photos seemingly at will.

      • Just as in the novel, Mrs de Winter has no name of her own, and is referred to only in relation to Maxim (taking the name de Winter) and Rebecca (who was the first Mrs de Winter). In an early draft of the screenplay, Hitch had tried to give the girl the name Daphne after Daphne du Maurier - much to Selznick's disgust!

      • Influences for the novel come from gothic literature. Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is an obvious influence.

      • As far as I know, it has been remade three times. The most interesting one was the one done in 1962 starring James Mason and Anna Massey. I would say Mason was equally as good as de Winter as Olivier. It was a TV movie and very hard to find now. The other two remakes (and really inferior to the original) are the 1978 version which Massey again stars in with the great Jeremy Brett, and the 1997 version with Charles Dance and Diana Rigg.

      • The incomparable George Sanders also pops up in Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent.

      • I think the most watchable performer in a fine cast is Judith Anderson as Mrs Danvers. It's a strange part, hypnotic, unsettling ... deep as deep gets on screen. Such a lesson she gives in screen acting and yet she is better known today to many as the high priestess in the 1984 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

      • Nigel Bruce, as well as appearing in Suspicion, pops up in Hitchcock's production of Lord Camber's Ladies.

      • Ah, Leo G Carroll. So many Hitch appearances tells you just how good he was. Suspicion, Spellbound, The Paradine Case and North by Northwest.

      • Forrester Harvey also appeared in the 1927 The Ring.

      • The best line can only have one candidate. Indeed it is one of the most memorable lines in movie history. It's the opening line: 'Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.' I wonder why some lines stay in the memory, you know, some lines work better than others. In its own right it's not saying alot but it is evocative of what is to come, I guess.

      • Hitch's cameo comes as George Sanders phones Mrs Danvers from a telephone booth towards the end of the film. Hitchcock waits patiently to use the phone.

      • You have to remember when Rebecca originally came out on the back of the success of Gone with the Wind, so it was marketed as a kind of follow-up. The original trailer laboured the point on how faithful the film was to the book with carefully highlighted passages.

      • Just one example of Hitchcock's attention to detail. He instructed Fontaine to carry her handbag as she enters Manderley, saying that she should think of it as if she were staying at a hotel rather than her own home, to convey her awkwardness and lack of stability in her own home.

      • It has to be said that the film is as much Selznick's (the film's prucer) as it is Hitchcock's. After all, the Best Picture Oscar went to him and not Hitch. Moreover, it's got Selznick's fingerprints all over it: respect for the original novel, tortured romance and those huge sets. Where Selznick ends and Hitchcock begins is hard to say. I have always felt that though it's a great film there is something about it that dooesn't have the feel of Hitch. This is probaly why. You can almost feel the tension of Hitchcock trying to get some of his ideas onto the screen within the confines of a Selznick production. Mrs Danvers, thjough, is a classic Hitchcock creation.

        Source: The Ultimate book on the films of Hitchcock: Complete Hitchcock

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        • 1940:
          Best Picture, B&W Cinematography


        • Nominations:
          Best Director, Best Actor (Laurence Olivier), Actress (Joan Fontaine), Supp. Actress (Judith Anderson), Screenplay, B&W Art Direction, Editing, Original Score, Special Effects

        • Actors:
            Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Gladys Cooper, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denny, C. Aubrey Smith & Melville Cooper

        • Dir/Prod:
        • Prod:
            David O. Selznick
        • Scr:
            Robert E Sherwood, Joan Harrison, Philip MacDonald, Michael Hogan, Barbara Keon, from the novel by Daphne du Maurier
        • Ph:
            George Barnes
        • Ed:
            Hal C. Kern, James E. Newcom
        • Mus:
            Franz Waxman
        • Art Dir:
            Lyle Wheeler

          (Selznick/United Artists)

        Dvd Features

          •Moving Menus and Chapter Points
          •Cast Biographies Quotes and Trivia
          •Film Trivia, Awards and Taglines. •Photo Gallery
          •A Conversation with Hitchcock
          •An Interview With Kim Newman
          •The Real Me - (The Thin One)
          •Extracts from Francois Truffaut's Book - 'Hitchcock'
          •Biography Quotes And Trivia

        Technical Details

          Screen: Fullscreen 4:3
          Languages: English - Dolby Digital (1.0) Mono
          Duration: 2 hours and 10 minutes (approx)
          Region: Region 2 - Will only play on European Region 2 or multi-region DVD players

        Official UK release.

        July 2014: 1 in stock.

        Below are scans from the UK. Useful to look at back cover for details such as subtitles and special features sometimes missed in the text above. Click on each for bigger scans.

        As Dvd covers go it's not bad but just seems a bit lazy to me, from a design point of view. The 2004 UK release, with the black cover (here) is far better, far more artistic - well, to me anyway.

        Condition: New & sealed.


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      • Price: £11.99 UK Sterling
        (Shipped from UK) (Price includes UK postage & packaging only. Outside UK here)

        July 14: back in stock

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      • Price: $29.99 US Dollars.
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