Rebecca (1940)

Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

Rebecca Movie Review

Rebecca is a 1940 mystery film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson. It is such an authentic mystery.

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Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

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Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

Now of course Rebecca is an accomplished movie on many grounds, but I’ve had an interesting history with it. When I watched it for the first time, I thought it was just solid. Upon second viewing, I thought it was really good and now, upon my third viewing, I really changed my mind and now I think it is a great film by all means. It really grew on me and I have always respected the films that become better and better every time you see it and this is a great example of that phenomenon.

Rebecca is above all else a great story. It follows a young woman who becomes the second wife of an aristocrat and comes to live in his mansion. But she can’t escape the ghost of his previous, deceased wife whom the servants absolutely adored. It is a testament to Hitchcock’s ingenuity that we never see Rebecca in the film and yet we feel like we met her as she is always present in the conversations between the characters. That created such a weird, even creepy feel to the movie.

I really liked both of the main characters and their relationship is strongly developed. Favell is another strong, sneaky character played wonderfully by typically cold and malicious George Sanders. He was perfectly cast for this role and he delivered in spades. But of course Mrs. Danvers is the true standout character and she is one of Hitchcock’s most menacing and unforgettable villains. Some of her scenes were extremely creepy and atmospheric and I loved that her fascination with Rebecca drove her every move.

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Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

Judith Anderson is suitably theatrical in the role and this is the best type of theatrical performance, the one that fits and lifts the role. She gave such an outstanding performance that should have brought her a supporting Oscar. Laurence Olivier is quite good, but Joan Fontaine deserved her Oscar nomination and she maybe even should have won. Despite a couple of overly emphasized moments, she mostly excelled in a difficult main role. The acting in this movie is truly top-notch.

Rebecca succeeds as a gothic tale in spades. It is actually one of the finest mystery films that I have ever seen as it is just always riveting to watch and wonderfully atmospheric. The plot unfolded in a really well crafted and structured manner and all of the twists and turns were satisfying and clever.

I have rarely seen a better looking movie than this one. The cinematography is excellent and some of the imagery here is just unforgettable and I will remember some scenes for years to come. But the art direction is just stunning as the house Manderley is absolutely magnificent to behold with its gothic look and we explore many of its parts leading to it becoming a character in its own right. The score is also fantastic and of course the direction from Hitchcock is brilliant.

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Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

Let’s talk about some of Rebecca’s flaws. Now I still stand by my original assessment that this is not one of Hitchcock’s best films. It is on the list, but certainly not in the top five. And it did not deserve to win Best Picture in an especially strong year for film, ridiculously strong actually. In many other years, yes, but here it was undeserved.

The pacing in particular is troublesome. It takes its time to get there owing to a slow start and some of the scenes were a bit too long in my opinion. The third act of the film I really liked, but it still felt like a different movie with its courtroom drama elements and I can’t help but wonder what this movie would have turned out had the story remained the same as it was in the first half. I definitely liked the conclusion and the ending is particularly striking, but it did have a bit too many twists in it and the final twist, although good, is a bit too convenient.

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Rebecca Movie Review……………………………………………

But it is mostly a very good, respectable film that is even artistic in its look and very original and memorable in its story. It is one of the most successful gothic mysteries ever put on screen. It was nominated for eleven Oscars but only won two and the cinematography win is much deserved. But production design as well as both of the actresses should have also won in my opinion.

Rebecca isn’t well paced, but it is such a strong mystery that is one of the finest ever put on screen. It isn’t one of Hitchcock’s best, but it comes close with top-notch performances, an unforgettable and creepy villain in Mrs. Danvers, very involving and well crafted plot and many memorable scenes that stay with you. It is also one of the finest looking black and white films thanks to some brilliant imagery, an even artistic look to it and amazing production design. Atmospheric and authentic, it is a thoroughly delightful gothic mystery.

My Rating – 4.5

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Posted in 1940, 1940s, FILM DECADES, Mistery, MOVIE REVIEWS, Thriller and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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