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Old 08-07-2008, 04:27 PM
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traboule traboule is offline
tomate de la resistance
Join Date: Apr 2005
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(1940, Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson, Dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

is a masterfully shot film about a young woman (Fontaine) who, by marrying the older, wealthier, Maxim de Winter (Olivier), finds herself in the midst of uncomfortable mystery and the lingering presence of her husband's dead first wife, Rebecca. Rebecca's presence is felt, not in spectral form, but by the new wife's perception of Rebecca as the perfect upper class wife - a perception upheld by others, especially the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson). In addition, Rebecca's presence is stamped all over the house, thanks to the first wife's predilection for monogramming nearly everything she owned.

Judith Anderson's performance of Judith Anderson is the creepiest aspect of the film, but I wouldn't call it a creepy film overall. The main emotion I felt was deep pity for the second Mrs. de Winter (whose first name is never given.) The film is not named for her, but it is about her all the same. She is not a strong heroine. She is fearful and unsure of herself. Her character develops throughout the course of the film, but kudos to the story for remarking that with such change, comes a certain loss. I liked Fontaine's performance overall - she's much better cast here than as the lead in Jane Eyre - though I could do without some of the melodramatic flair that surfaces every so often.

The film achieves a terrific atmosphere - a place where the second Mrs. de Winter can find little refuge, not even with her husband, who is prone to inexplicable bursts of temper. After a revelation about Rebecca's death later in the film, told by Maxim to his new wife, this atmosphere alters considerably. (By the way, great camera work in that scene that 'replays' the past without resorting to flashback.) There are some necessary scenes of resolution after that moment, and while still interesting, the change to the atmosphere makes the ending of the film a little less compelling than before.

Of the Hitchcock's, I think Vertigo might still be my favorite, but Rebecca's pretty close with a 8.5/10. (Rear Window's also hovering near both as well.)

Last edited by traboule; 08-07-2008 at 08:25 PM.
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