Favorite things about… Rebecca (1940)

(Image via Fanpop)

The favorite film:
Rebecca, a 1940 romantic thriller from the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock

The synopsis:
When a shy young woman meets and falls in love with the wealthy Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo, they quickly marry before heading back to his Cornwall estate, Manderley. But after arriving, the bride finds that the memory of Maxim’s first wife still looms large over Manderley.

The cast:
Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter
Joan Fontaine as the second Mrs. de Winter
Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers
George Sanders as Jack Favell
Florence Bates as Edythe Van Hopper
Nigel Bruce as Giles Lacy
Gladys Cooper as Beatrice Lacy

Fun facts:

  • This was Hitchcock’s first film made under contract with David O. Selznick.
  • Rebecca won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Cinematography (Black and White).
  • The film was nominated for a further nine Oscars: leading actor, leading actress, supporting actress, director, screenplay, art direction, film editing, special effects, and original score. Eleven nominations total, and two wins!
  • The film is based on the novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, with the screenplay penned by Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison.
  • Rebecca was the opening film at the very first Berlin International Film Festival (“Berlinale”) in 1951. Joan Fontaine was a guest at the festival.
  • The film was parodied by the hilarious Carol Burnett Show in a 1972 skit, “Rebecky.” Carol took on Joan Fontaine’s role, with Vicki Lawrence playing Mrs. Danvers.

Favorite things/quotes:

  • That foggy opening and narration! “Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again…”
  • Edythe: “Most girls would give their eyes for a chance to see Monte.”
    Maxim: “Wouldn’t that rather defeat the purpose?”
  • The clumsy, nervous energy Joan Fontaine gives to her character
  • The future second Mrs. de Winter’s drawing of Max
  • Maxim: “Sometimes, you know, those little bottles contain demons… that have a way of popping out at you just as you’re trying most desperately to forget.”
  • The future second Mrs. de Winter’s swoony reaction to Max’s proposal
  • Edythe’s reaction to the news of the engagement. “When did all THIS happen?”

(Image via Doctor Macro)

  • The immediate change in mood with the introduction of Mrs. Danvers
  • Manderley’s magnificent banquet hall and library (complete with a fireplace so tall Joan Fontaine could stand inside it!)
  • Giles: “A portrait of a lampshade upside down to represent a soul in torment!”
  • Jasper the dog
  • Max’s wild reaction to learning that his new wife entered the beach cottage
  • Max and the second Mrs.’ tense conversation in the flickering light of their home movies
  • Max: “Gossip?! What do you mean?”
  • The second Mrs. de Winter: “Our marriage is a success, isn’t it? A great success? We’re happy, aren’t we? Terribly happy? If you don’t think we are happy, would be much better if you didn’t pretend. I’ll go away… Why don’t you answer me?”
    Max: “How can I answer you when I don’t know the answer myself? If you say we’re happy, let’s leave it at that. Happiness is something I know nothing about.”
  • That heartbreaking shot of Joan Fontaine’s face after Max’s above-quoted statements
  • George Sanders!

(Image via Doctor Macro)

  • Favell hopping in through the window, and then hopping out again
  • Favell: “I am Rebecca’s favorite cousin.” (Yeah, no kidding!)
  • That sense of dread as the second Mrs. de Winter approaches and steps into the mansion’s west wing
  • Mrs. Danvers lurking in the shadows
  • Danvers: “Do you think the dead come back and watch the living?”
  • Judith Anderson’s performance as Mrs. Danvers is just fantastic! She adds so much atmosphere to the film. A total scene-stealer.
  • Danvers: “You sent for me, madam?”
    The second Mrs. de Winter: “Yes, Mrs. Danvers. I want you do get rid of all these things.”
    Danvers: “These are Mrs. de Winter’s things.”
    The second Mrs. de Winter: “I am Mrs. de Winter now.”
  • That confrontation with the second Mrs. calling Danvers out for sabotaging her party outfit! And then Danvers basically trying to convince her to jump out of the window… pure evil!

(Image via Doctor Macro)

  • The return of Ben and his odd rambling
  • Maxim: “Her shadow has been between us all the time, keeping us from one another. She knew that this would happen.”
  • The second Mrs. de Winter: “How could we be close when I knew you were always thinking of Rebecca? How could I even ask you to love me when I knew you loved Rebecca, still?”
  • Max’s revelation that he hated Rebecca!
  • Maxim: “It wouldn’t make for sanity, would it? Living with the devil.”
  • As messed up as the situation is, those smoochy scenes between Fontaine and Olivier are pretty swoon-worthy! Great chemistry.
  • The tense inquest after Rebecca’s actual body and boat have been found
  • Favell, always creeping up in windows! Here he is again, popping up in the window of the car.
  • Favell: “I have a strong feeling that before the day is out somebody’s going to make use of that rather expressive but somewhat old-fashioned term, ‘foul play.'”
  • Favell: “Toodle-oo, Max. Come along, Dany. Let’s leave the unhappy couple to spend their last moments together alone.”
  • Favell: “And now Max and that dear little bride of his will be able to stay on at Manderley and live happily ever after…”
  • …but not if Danvers has anything to do with it!
  • That candle-lit shot of Danvers’ face just before Max sees Manderley burning
  • Danvers’ expression just before the ceiling caves in on her
  • Manderley may be burning to the ground, but at least Max and the Mrs. have each other.
  • “The End” displayed over wild flames
Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Favorite things about… Rebecca (1940)

  1. MIB says:

    Did you know that Selznick wanted the final shot to be the smoke from the fire to form a huge “R” ? Hitchcock nixed it as being too naff, hence we got the more evocative monogrammed cloth shot instead, which Hitch did behind Selznick’s back! :-P

    Like

Share your thoughts! (Note: Comments close 90 days after publication.)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s