Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Rebecca at 75

No, not REBECCA and those Forties dramas!  Fascinating too to see REBECCA again, this lush Forties romantic drama/mystery, typically Hitchcock and Selznick, from of course that classic novel by Daphne Du Maurier, still weaves it spell as once again we go back to Manderley. How those wartime audiences must have lapped it up, along with GWTW ......

1940 was an amazing year actually, following on from the great 1939. REBECCA won Best Picture Oscar for Selznick, but Hitchcock did not get best director - that went to John Ford for THE GRAPES OF WRATH, other contenders were Wyler for THE LETTER and Cukor for THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. Likewise James Stewart, in the Cukor, won Best Actor. Olivier was nominated of course, as was Joan Fontaine here, but like Grace Kelly winning over Judy Garland in 1954 - see post below - it was Ginger Rogers as KITTY FOYLE who won Best Actress. But who sees KITTY FOYLE now?, I have never seen it, and its never revived these days. Also nominated were Bette Davis (THE LETTER) and Katharine Hepburn for playing herself - sorry, Tracy Lord - in PHILADELPHIA STORY.

Joan is superlative here as the shy new Mrs De Winter, its a great performance and she is absolutely captivating. Olivier with that moustache is perfect too. No wonder women of that generation swooned over him. Add in Florence Bates as the ghastly Mrs Van Hopper and those amusing scenes in the South of France (California actually), and cad George Sanders and Gladys Cooper, Hitchcock regular Leo G Carroll as the doctor with the key to the mystery, and of course Judith Anderson as Mrs Danvers, and that great location and art direction for Manderley,  

It seems though a film of two halfs. I love the first half . The cinematography, the direction, the chemistry between the two leads (though it seems Larry and Hitch used to say dirty words to Joan to disconcert her), the acting, the large house and the enigma of the dead first wife, Rebecca, are all fantastic, as Hitch builds up the eerie atmosphere with the sinister Mrs Danvers. But once we find out about the true story about Rebecca it loses, for me, some of its magic and turns into a simple mystery/thriller. But, 75 years on, audiences still love REBECCA and it remains a key Hitchcock classic.
We like Joan a lot, see labels for more on her and Olivier and Hitchcock. 

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