Rebecca (1940)


A bookish young woman enters a whirlwind romance with a debonair aristocrat but finds herself living in the shadow of his previous wife who died under mysterious circumstances.

Alfred Hitchcock’s genius was always in his ability to create believable ambiguity in his characters without resorting to clumsy red herrings or cinematic gimmickry and Rebecca is one of the finest examples. Of course having a leading man of the calibre of Laurence Olivier is never going to hurt and his haunting portrayal of a man irreversibly damaged by tragic past events is unforgettable. Joan Fontaine is also wonderful and adorable as his unnamed new bride, intimidated by her induction into an unfamiliar social class and confronted by reminders of her predecessor everywhere she looks. Let’s not forget Rebecca herself, one of the great Femme Fatales although she never actually appears on screen.

Supported by a cast of some of the best English character actors of the time and containing one of the great cinematic curve balls, Rebecca is another consummate exercise in atmosphere and suspense.


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