Friday, April 10, 2009
It's funny that the only Alfred Hitchcock movie to win the Academy Award for best picture was 'Rebecca,' a strong, but much weaker film than 'Strangers on a Train' or 'Vertigo.' 'Rebecca,' based off of the best selling novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, was also Hitchcock's first American film. In a brilliant role, Joan Fontaine plays a naive young woman (her name is not revealed to us) who marries the affluent Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier), who has lost his original wife, Rebecca, in a boating accident. The young woman, now the second Mrs. de Winter, moves to Maxim's massive abode, where she immediately is discomforted by the fact that neither Maxim nor his servant Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) have gotten over the loss of Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers is particularly daunting as she attempts to frighten Mrs. de Winter and make her leave (at one point she even tries to get her to commit suicide by jumping out of a high window). The movie, as with many of Hitchcock's films, takes a sharp turn at the end, as nothing is as it seems. Like 'Vertigo,' this is a psychological romantic movie, but unfortunately, unlike 'Vertigo,' it veers too far away from the psychology and becomes too much of a romance. Also, another fault is that this is familiar material, and besides the ending, there really are no great surprises. Still, this is an Alfred Hitchcock movie, and he manages to create suspense in even the most innocent situations. Also, the closing of the movie is one of the more memorable movie endings I've seen.