Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday Night Cinema

Date: 1940
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson and George Sanders

Rebecca and I have a long and sordid past. Long, because I discovered Rebecca when my Aunt Janie had come up for a visit and we were at B&B and she saw the new and trashy looking printing of
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier on the shelf. She started raving about it and insisted that I read it and bought me a copy. It has been love ever since.

Sordid, because as a Serious Speech Interpreter on the high school speech team I was a failure It's not that I wasn't a good speaker, I just chose lousy material. Well one season I was working with Maxim's confession for my piece. It was good, I was good but I was consistently getting 7's and 8's (second to and last place.)

That evening one of my fellow interpers was helping me edit and we suddenly realized that my problem was that I was narrating a man's voice and it wasn't very believable coming out of a cute, short, curly haired brunette. So we switched the roles. We made Maxim's part Mrs. deWinter's and Mrs deWinter's part Maxim's, just changed the voices from male to female and female to male. I rocked it. I started getting first and second place.

The problem was what I did was against the rules. I didn't know it was against the rules but I had a feeling it wasn't good form. Turned out it was totally against the rules and I was disqualified which I didn't contest because I really didn't mean to break the rules and felt pretty bad about it. But not about acing those rounds!

Now, enough about my relationship with Rebecca and some facts about the film. This was Alfred Hitchcock's first film made in America. It also happened to win the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Black and White Cinematography. Hello Hollywood!

Laurence Olivier wanted Vivien Leigh to play the starring role and she was hot stuff having just come off of Gone with The Wind and being Olivier's new flame and soon to be wife. I have seen her screen test - she is a lovely actress and I adore her but she would have been a disaster as the second Mrs deWinter. Now if there was a Rebecca role in the film Vivien Leigh would have been perfect for THAT role.

This film is riveting. Judith Anderson's Danvers is creepy and almost a bit sympathetic. George Sanders' Jack Favell is likable but you know he is a cad. Which is fitting considering this post I read today.
Joan Fontaine is perfect for this film meek and quiet and you find yourself yelling "Grow a spine already!" and then she does. Laurence Olivier's Maxim is so likable it's no wonder you end up rooting for him.

The film is very true to the book until it comes to the climax which brings me back to that little story I told at the beginning of this post, the one about me changing up the parts for the win. Well, the censors wouldn't Maxim get away with what he gets away with in the book so they let him get away with something else in the film. You feel relieved that he gets away with it but you don't find yourself questioning your moral judgement like in the book.

Rebecca is one of my all time favorite films. It is a classic. Watch it, love it, obsess over it.

7 out of 7 thimbles!

1 comment:

Keira said...

Excellent movie. I love how poisonous George Saunders is--it's hard to believe that he ever married Zsa-Zsa!