Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rebecca (Movie Review)

I've mainly been using this blog to talk about books, but I thought I'd throw in the occasional movie review, as TV/movies are my other obsession in addition to reading. I read Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier last month and loved it, and Amy at The Black Sheep Dances pointed me to the 1940 Hitchcock movie adaptation staring Lawrence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.  Since I reviewed the book here, I thought it might be fun to review the movie too.

From the start, I really enjoyed the opening sequence to the movie because it starts out exactly the same way as the book does, and I loved the pairing of Du Maurier's words with a haunting view of Manderley.

The movie follows the book very closely in the beginning, and overall stays pretty true to the book for the most part, changing/leaving out some things but nothing that really affects the overall story or that I particularly missed. Also, despite the fact that this movie was made before all of the modern special effects etc., I thought it was very well done and that the camera work and other affects were very fitting to the plot.

I loved Lawrence Olivier as Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine as his second wife. Both played the roles as I had imagined the characters would be and I enjoyed watching them in this movie. Lawrence Olivier isn't so bad to look at either - I'm not sure that I've ever seen a movie with him in it before.

In fact, most of the actors fit well with my imagination of the characters, with the exception of Mrs. Danvers. I didn't think Mrs. Danvers was nearly creepy enough, and I thought the movie would have played up the creepy/haunting factor a more than it did.

I thought the movie was a very good counterpart to Rebecca, and is a great example of classic film at its best. Highly recommended!


  1. Oh I love the movie too but for me the book is more special. Great review! Have you checked out C.B. James Read the Book/See the Movie Challenge? I have a link on my blog.

  2. My book club read the book and then saw the old Hitchcock movie together last winter. We all loved them both!

  3. I really like this movie, but I definitely "got" it better after I read the book. I love Fontaine and Olivier, too, but I thought Mrs. Danvers was plenty creepy. There's another version with Diana Rigg as Mrs. Danvers and, while she is creepy and mean, she's just too good looking to be as scary.

  4. This review reminds me of the movie opening today, Shutter Island with Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese as director. Nothing like a Hitchcock like thriller.

  5. This book was one of the favorites of my first book club many years ago. (Everyone is always shocked at the "Loved her!? I HATED Rebecca!!" scene. Oh, and you're right on about the actress that played Mrs. Danvers

    If you liked Olivier, you may want to also check out the movie version of Wuthering Heights starring him along with Merle Oberon - although THAT movie is quite different from the novel.

    Also, I randomly found another book by Du Maurier at a used book store once and bought it just becuase it was by her. It is "The Flight of the Falcon". Pretty good, but not in the class of Rebecca.


  6. Isn't it great when movies live up to the novels? It doesn't happen often, but it's awesome when it does.

    Une Parole

  7. I am a HUGE Hitchcock fan and I loved this movie too. Hitchcock based many of his thrillers on books/short stories though he never stayed 100% true to them. Some might take issue with this but I appreciate that he added his own flair. Watching the movie never ruins the book and vice versa!

    His film The Birds is based on the short story by du Maurier with the same title. He also did an adaptation of Jamaica Inn (though it can be hard to find a good quality DVD of this).