14 March 2009

Hitchcock | Rebecca (1940)

Rebecca (1940)
written by Philip MacDonald, Michael Hogan, Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison, based on a novel by Daphne Du Maurier

What were the first things Hitchcock did after moving to America? Oh, nothing much... he bought a house, enrolled his daughter in school and made a Best Picture-winning masterpiece.

The film didn't start off terribly promising. It began as sort of a remake of Easy Virtue. In both, a young woman falls in love with rich gentleman and makes an instant decision to marry him. When she arrives at his estate, she finds herself not quite so welcome. Easy Virtue is not a great film -- probably one of Hitch's worst -- so this introduction to Rebecca wasn't thrilling. Luckily, Rebecca quickly established itself as the far superior picture through fantastic acting, the characters' complex psychologies, unexpected twists in the story, opulent sets and some great chiaroscuro lighting.

This is my first Laurence Olivier film (well, second if Clash of the Titans counts). I can see why he was a highly respected actor in his day. Olivier's performance alone ensures that watching this film a second time -- knowing what the twists in the story are -- will be rewarding. Looking back, his reactions to being reminded of Rebecca are completely consistent with guilt and anger even if they appear to be sorrow during the first viewing.

I'm having a hard time writing anything remotely intelligent about this film, so I'll just say that I'm not typically a fan of a gothic romance, but I couldn't help but be engaged by this excellcent picture. (9/10)

Watched the region 1 DVD released by Fox in 2008 as a part of the Alfred Hitchcock Premiere Collection. The transfer's excellent, even better than the version Criterion released. I had to play this disc in my PS3, however, due to the loud noise it makes in my regular DVD player. This is problem common to this set for everyone. Not cool, Fox.