Summary: A shy ladies' companion, staying in Monte Carlo with her stuffy employer, meets the wealthy Maxim de Winter. She and Max fall in love, marry and return to Manderlay, his large country estate in Cornwall. Max is still troubled by the death of his first wife, Rebecca, in a boating accident the year before. The second Mrs. de Winter clashes with the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, and discovers that Rebecca still has a strange hold on everyone at Manderlay.
This film is one of my favorites of all time and watched as part of my 2010 All About The Brontes Challenge.
Now, I could give you my views (which I just did above) but I thought I'd rather give some interesting tidbits and facts. It's directed by Alfred Hitchcock and won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Actress. (That alone should make you want to watch it.)
Here are some other tidbits taken from IMDB.com...
- Director Cameo: [Alfred Hitchcock] walking past a phone booth just after Jack Favell (George Sanders) makes a call in the final part of the movie. (Hitchcock always makes a cameo appearance in all his films...)
- The first film Alfred Hitchcock made in Hollywood and the only one that won a Best Picture Oscar.
- Mrs. Danvers is hardly ever seen walking; she seems to glide. Alfred Hitchcock wanted her to be seen solely from Joan Fontaine's character's anxious point of view, and this effect tied in with her fear about Mrs. Danvers appearing anytime unexpectedly.
- Just as in the original novel, Mrs. de Winter has no first name. (Rebecca isn't her first name...)
- Over 20 actors were tested for the role of Mrs. de Winter, which eventually went to newcomer Joan Fontaine. One of them was Vivien Leigh, who Laurence Olivier was pressing for, as they were a couple at the time.
- Despite scouring most of America, and New England in particular, David O. Selznick was unable to find a suitable location to represent Manderley, so he had to resort to a miniature instead, albeit a highly convincing one.
- Because Laurence Olivier wanted his then-girlfriend Vivien Leigh to play the lead role, he treated Joan Fontaine horribly. This shook Fontaine up quite a bit, so Alfred Hitchcock decided to capitalize on this by telling her EVERYONE on the set hated her, thus making her shy and uneasy - just what he wanted from her performance.
- Due to the success of this film in Spain, the specific jackets that Joan Fontaine wears during the film began to be known as "rebecas". The word "rebeca" is still used nowadays to refer to this item of clothing. Personally, the fashion in the movie is stunning but I'm partial to that era.
- In order to maintain the dark atmosphere of the book, Alfred Hitchcock insisted that the film be shot in black and white.
- In the scripting process, Alfred Hitchcock made lots of changes with the character "Mrs. Danvers." Unlike the character in the novel, Hitchcock made Mrs. Danvers much younger and Hitchcock decided not to reveal her past.