← Back to Reviews
(1940) - Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Romance / Mystery / Psychological Thriller / Gothic
"You thought you could be Mrs. de Winter, live in her house, walk in her steps, take the things that were hers!"

After watching the incredible Strangers on a Train, I got back in the mood for Hitchcock, which is conflicting with my current obligation to watch war movies for the war countdown. But I don't mind as long as I can post this review on MoFo. Why is this one so important? Because this is my 2,500th movie! And this time I didn't remember forgotten movies immediately after claiming it was a milestone like I did when I said that Gone With the Wind was my 1000th. Plus, I really need to watch more pre-60's movies from each of the decades, even the 1910's if I can help it.

By this morning I had seen 2496 movies already. Today I watched three William Berke movies (because of their shortness) and decided to detour with the short film (I don't count those toward my feature films count) A Trip to the Moon. I started Rope at first, but quickly quit because I thought the intro music was already too syrupy for the plot. So I switched to Rebecca, hoping for perfection.

Rich and lonely Maxim de Winter is stopped from jumping off of cliff into the see by an unnamed woman who passes by. The two meet on multiple occasions and develop a relationship that blossoms into marriage. She soon feels intrigued and nervous by the mystique of her new surroundings and her husband's friends and servants, especially since many of them are comparing her to Rebecca de Winter, the wife who died a year before. Eventually, she convinces herself that her marriage will never be happy unless she starts to act like Rebecca. But the more she digs into the history of the ghost of the late wife, the more disturbing secrets she uncovers. Nevertheless, she will try anything and face the worst odds to preserve her estranged relationship.

I was pretty awestruck with the sophistication of the slow-moving walk through the forest as our heroine narrated the beginning. Total far cry from Evil Dead, right? The camera continues to do this as we explore the mansion. The mystique of the film is improved whenever a problem seems to arise, as anything could be about Rebecca. Thanks to the movie's status as a Hitchcockian classic, I couldn't help desperately waiting for whatever really happened to the woman. Is there really a solace to be taken when the husband can explode at any moment in a house where the memory of Rebecca lingers on? Until the question is answered, the most spectral presence we get is the perfect lighting of each tender and unsettling moment, glistening on the faces of the cast in their most expressive places.

The creepiest individual we have to deal with is the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, played by Judith Anderson, an incredible actress letting out a reserved but powerful little witch who's entire presence is based on the less-is-more factor. One learns to hate her really quickly but admire Anderson's onscreen presence at the same time. But once we get behind the history of Rebecca, the romance merges with Hitchcock's sense of thrills and conspiracies like strawberries and bananas, or more like raspberry and dark chocolate. This is when the romantic charisma of Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier is truly tested along the characters' relationship. This is also an excellent example of carefully switching a genre and an aesthetic over a slow but noticeable pace as it goes from a sentimental romance into whodunit territory. And this territory evolves into multiple plot twists in the third act with various kinds of impact, all of which connect perffectly.

And I gotta say it: Joan Fontaine has one of the prettiest smiles ever! She's already gorgeous enough, but her smile is just so incredible. Joan is a constant treat onscreen, and I enjoyed literally every second of her presence. Her delivery of a woman going through both marital and psychological is phenomenal, almost as if she has known so many people going through that in her life that she would have no problem doing it herself. Olivier does his absolute best, and it shows, but it's Fontaine who really shines.

God, I can't believe it took me this long to see it. This is better than Rear Window to me. Rebecca is pure Hitchcock and flawless Gothic romance of the highest caliber. It might be a classic, but in comparison to Hitchcock's 50's works, this is horrifically understanted. Hitchcock is at maximum power as a director and a storyteller, and I'd easily watch this again soon if I didn't have scheduled movies to watch. This was an excellent choice for my 2,500th film.

= 100/100

Alfred Hitchcock's Directorial Score (11 Good vs. 1 Bad)

Vertigo: 100
Rebecca: 100
Rear Window: 100
Strangers on a Train 99.5
North by Northwest: 99

Average Score: 99.7

For making three perfect movies, Hitchcock will obtain a permanent 100 score. However, his average will still be used for ordering. This puts him at number 2 on my top directors list under Coppola and above Kurosawa.