9 February 2015


Rebecca 1940
  • Director: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Based on novel: by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denney, C. Aubrey Smith,  Gladys Cooper,  Leo G. Carroll
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Laurence Olivier  King Lear, Sleuth, Oh What a Lovely War, Spartacus, Richard III, Hamlet, Henry V, As You Like It
    • Joan Fontaine – there must be something...
    • George Sanders – A Shot in the Dark, All about Eve
    • Judith Anderson – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    • Reginald Denny – Around the World in Eighty Days
    • Gladys Cooper – My Fair Lady, Pygmalion
    • Leo G. Carroll – The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Parent Trap, Strangers on a Train, Spellbound, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex
  • Why?  A classic
  • Seen:  February 8, 2015, with YW and KW in our read-book-see-film circle
The film is faithful to the book which is a shame because it’s such a stupid book. It has the wimpiest heroine ever and really, killing one’s wife is not OK. It’s especially not OK if one tries to hide it by getting rid of the body and pretending.
With that said the film is very atmospheric and well made.  It is Hitchcock after all and he knows how to make films.
He made a good choice in Olivier. I’m not fond of Olivier’s Shakespearean roles; I’m irritated by his hammy oh-look-at-me-the-great-Shakespearean-actor. But as Maxim De Winter he’s good. Very good. Suffering. Charming. And very handsome.
Fontaine does what she can with her nameless role. She cringes and skulks more than necessary but she also shows some spirit and has a very expressive face.
Evidently Hitchcock didn’t like the murder part either because he tones it down to an accident. Still...
After Maxim’s dramatic confession the film drags on for another half hour or so. The book did too and then ended abruptly with a very contrived ending.
Which Hitchcock more or less follows with an even more Jane Eyre-ish ending. However as a whole the film is better than the book.

3 * of 5


  1. This is a great favourite of mine. Very interesting that you say the movie's better than the book. I haven't read it but I'd like to. It seems a great sin in more literary circle to claim any movie can be better than the book it was based on (sometimes very loosely). Well, I have the temerity to think "Troy" is a lot better than Homer's lame fantasy and I also think both versions of "On the Beach" (but especially the remake) improve greatly on Nevil Shute's awfully bland novel. But that's another story!

    PS Funny you say nothing about Judith Anderson. I think she almost steals the show from Larry and Joan. No mean achievement.

    1. So it is, it's almost a universally accepted truth that the book is always better than the movie but I find that this is relatively often not the case. Another example is 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'. I enjoyed the movie very much but not the book. I don't remember what I thought of the book 'On the Beach' nor have I seen the remake but the first version with Gregory Peck made an huge impact on me. As you perhaps remember I didn't like the film 'Troy' at all (sorry) and I haven't read the original so no opinion there! Anyway, I'm glad you found the review of 'Rebecca' interesting. Indeed it is strange that I didn't mention Judith Anderson in my review since she is excellent.