REBECCA

(1940)
RebeccaWith Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Judith Anderson, George Sanders, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denny, C. Aubrey Smith, Florence Bates
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

     Hitchcock's first American film ranks among his greatest achievements, even if the director was dissatisfied with the compromises made to suit producer David O. Selznick.  It was the second consecutive Selznick-produced film to win the Academy Award for best picture, following the previous year's GONE WITH THE WIND.  Selznick's obsessive micromanagement style was fine for a director like Vic Fleming, whose artistic contribution to GWTW consisted of carrying out the boss's orders efficiently.  But Hitch was no mere craftsman, and the war of nerves between director and producer on REBECCA was legendary (and exhaustively documented on the Criterion-edition DVD of the film).  The end result was a film that reflected the strengths of both men: it looked like a Selznick production and felt like a Hitchcock film.  REBECCA was also a faithful adaptation of the best-selling novel by Daphne du Maurier, but the film's ominous tone, as well as the suspenseful relationship between Joan Fontaine's unnamed central character and Judith Anderson's obsessively sadistic Mrs. Danvers, were pure Hitchcock.   - JL

Alfred Hitchcock     The Stuff You Gotta Watch

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