Friday, July 1, 2011

REBECCA (1940)

I really enjoyed posting two straight weeks of blogs on Hollywood films from the 1930's, and so for the 1940's I'm going to up the ante and try for three weeks worth. Looking at titles I have left from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, this shouldn't be a problem. As before, I’ll list my expectations for each film going in and state whether these expectations are reached or not. And I’ll once again give each film my Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award because there was such a bounty of great supporting performers from this period and I just like doing it.

Rebecca (1940):
Expectations: Always look forward to viewing a Hitchcock film. Knew this was his only Best Picture winner. Laurence Olivier is usually worth seeing (Unless it’s in something like Harold Robbins’ The Betsy or The Jazz Singer). I knew it was also based on the famous novel of the same name.

After viewing: I had forgotten (or maybe I never realized) this was David O Selznick’s follow up to Gone With the Wind. It appears (and is confirmed by the accompanying commentary track) to be part Hitchcock style and part O. Selznick epic. This competing combination seems to works for the most part.

I honestly don’t recall seeing a movie with Joan Fontaine before, but she is quite fetching and well cast here. Another interesting supporting role is George Sanders as Olivier’s oily voiced rival. However, any fan of Rebecca will probably tell you the showcase role is that of the macabre Mrs. Danvers and Judith Anderson plays it to the hilt.

The overall plot does have some holes in it (As Hitchcock himself points out-Where did the second body come from?) but it isn’t hard to see why Rebecca (The book and the film) has had an enduring appeal.

And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to…Judith Anderson, of course. Though I admit it is tempting to throw a bone to Jasper the loyal cocker spaniel.

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