Rebecca (1940)
Felt, not seen....
28 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Rebecca (1940)

Hitchcock's romantic suspense thriller proves to be one of the most gripping and tangling movies of his career. Rebecca invites you in slowly, and slowly builds on itself. A happy go lucky beginning quickly turns into a movie that touches themes of suicide (Max on the cliff), second marriages, lesbianism (Mrs. Danves and her obsession with Rebecca), incestuous relationships (Rebecca and Jack), murder, and more.

Rebecca opens on a down note showing a beat up old mansion and reflecting on better times and then shows a man close to the edge of a cliff. The movie shifts to a happy-go-lucky romantic sugar movie. The well written script and the nervousness and light hearted acting done by Joan Fontiane. The movie quickly changes and soon begins to feel like a mystery or a ghost story with whispers of Rebecca and how no one talks about her and her presence being felt despite being dead for over a year. The camera movements, acting (especially from Mrs. Danvers) and lighting help achieve a suspenseful feel to the movie. The nervous out of place feel that the new Mrs. de Winter exhibits was done encouraged off screen by Hitchcock when Laurence Oliver (who plays Max de Winter) hated Joan Fontiane as the leading lady, this off screen chemistry added to the film. The movie keeps several things secret and keeps hinting ever so slightly at many things. At sometime I thought Rebecca was still alive, or that she was a ghost. The curious and light hearted attitude of the second Mrs. de Winter adds to building the suspense and helps keep the audience guessing and hoping the mystery will be reveled. When the secret of Rebecca's death is finally revealed the movie takes another shift to dramatic and a different suspenseful feel. This shift takes a toll on the new Mrs. de Winter and even characters in the movie spot this.

Another important element is the presence of Rebecca throughout the movie. Rebecca is never shown and you never hear her voice, yet she's everywhere in the movie. Her 'R' symbol is almost like an omen within the house.

The movie's core is the new Mrs. de Winter and her struggle to fit into her new life. She must learn how to live as a trophy wife, be a socialite, wife, wealthy, and live up to Rebecca, the first wife. Throughout the movie you hear whispers of how great Rebecca was and it takes it's toll on the new Mrs. de Winter, even to the point where she commands," I Am The New Mrs. de Winter."

The cinematography is extremely well done and brings scenes to life. The happy go lucky young romance of Max and the new Mrs. de Winter is set in Monty Carlo, a city famous for royalty, thrills, beautiful landscape and luxury. The next location is the massive mansion Manderly, which at first looks inviting, but quickly feels old and empty like a mausoleum. The beach also has a foreboding feeling to it. The loud crashing waves, the fog and a cabin full of Rebecca's possessions.

There was one thing that caught my eye is the acting by George Sanders(who plays Jack). A real distracting habit shown in the film is that George was blinking 5 times per second. Also, sadly the using an alias at a doctor's office could no longer work due to the paper work one must go through at a doctor's office.

Hitchcock delivered one of his greatest movies with a strong cast, performance, atmosphere, mood and gripping story that will have people guessing..
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