dir. alfred hitchcock
Often forgotten within the director’s awesome and sprawling filmography, Rebecca is Hitchcock’s quiet stunner. A Gothic love story, the narrative follows Max de Winter (Laurence Olivier) and his young, unnamed wife (Joan Fontaine) who comes to live on his beautiful property, completely overshadowed by the memory of de Winter’s deceased first wife, Rebecca. The woman’s presence is felt constantly, leaving the second Mrs. de Winter to live in competition and scrutiny, much of which is brought on by the jealous housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, which she could not possibly overcome.
“What particular moment in your young life would you want to keep?”
Hitchcock’s mastery is undeniable. Here he has created a film centered around a character who is never seen, yet plagues each and every moment of the film. This character is complex and downright terrifying, when it becomes apparent that she will be the downfall of the innocent new wife. Only more intriguing, perhaps, is the dead woman’s surrogate, the overly devoted Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), who has a quiet intensity that an antagonist should have, as well as the dangerous subtlety that most don’t. This woman will fuck you up, for the sake of her dear Rebecca, and won’t bat an eye when she does it.
Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, and rightfully so, Rebecca deserves more recognition than it has gotten in recent years. Though not as flashy as Psycho or Vertigo, it packs a serious punch and should be hailed as one of Hitchock’s, and Hollywood’s, finest.
Criterion Spine #135