Rebecca (1940) Movie Review

By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –

David O. Selznick was one of the greatest producers in Hollywood’s Golden Age.  He managed to produce two consecutive Best Picture winners, and collaborated with most major players in the film business at that time, including Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh.  It is no surprise, then, that an adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca would be one of the most definitive films to come out of that era.  The title character does live on within this film filled with romantic suspense.

A Toast

Du Maurier herself considered this adaptation of her celebrated novel to be the best film based on any of her writing.  Indeed, the film is a true cinematic treasure that contains Oscar-nominated performances from both Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.  Judith Anderson also excelled as the mysterious Mrs. Danvers even though Jane Darwell won the Oscar over her for her supporting role in The Grapes of Wrath.  Alfred Hitchcock might have never won an Academy Award for “Best Director,” but at least he was still able to direct a “Best Picture” winner.  Many film historians believe that Hitchcock was the “master of suspense,” and this film supports that notion.  That is because Hitchcock had the unique talent of conveying mystery and suspense without grotesque imagery that would characterize R-rated horror films.  This film really does keep the audience members on the edge of their seats within a beautifully romantic plot.

Beer Two

The only issue about this film is that there is a lot of repetition.  The readers of this review should take a look at the Drinking Game because there are a lot of repeated elements within this film.  One of the most annoying parts about this movie is that many of the characters repeat the surname “de Winter” over and over again.  A possible reason for this is because it was socially appropriate to refer to a man or a woman of high estate with the title “Mr.” or “Mrs.” along with his or her last name.  Other than that slight annoyance, the film does the novel justice even though it did not receive an Academy Award for its screenplay.

Verdict

Rebecca might be appropriate for audiences who want to enjoy a Hitchcock classic that does not involve very violent content.  The plot itself might contain a lot of mysterious elements, but it is still much tamer compared to films like Psycho (1960) and The Birds (1963) that solidified Hitchcock as a “master of suspense.”  The film might also satisfy fans of Gone with the Wind, or just about any moviegoer who wants to see a great adaptation of a romance novel.  Hopefully audiences will dream of Manderley again, just like how Joan Fontaine did during the opening of this astounding black-and-white classic.

Rebecca (1940) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever any of the characters use old-fashioned telephones, especially when Joan Fontaine does that.

Take a Drink: whenever there is a scene in which the characters are driving cars against a very fake background

Take a Drink: whenever it looks like the characters are standing in front of a fake background (which might have been made through something similar to the modern-day green screen).

Take a Drink: whenever there are handwritten letters and notes that the audience members have to read

Take a Drink: whenever Mrs. Danvers enters the room in a somewhat creepy manner

Take a Drink: when Franz Waxman’s hauntingly beautiful original score plays during the opening credits, and then reappears several times throughout the film

Take a Drink: whenever the letter “R” appears on either paper or cloth napkins (and some look like they were embroidered onto cloth)

Take a Drink: whenever the characters repeat the name of the estate, “Manderley,” or the name “Rebecca”

Drink a Shot: whenever the characters repeat the surname “de Winter”

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