Classic Film Guide

Rebecca (1940)

Manderlay's housekeeper Mrs. Danvers is 31st on AFI's Top Villain list, in this movie about expectations & disillusionment. It was the first film Alfred Hitchcock made in Hollywood, his only one to win Best Picture; he never won a Best Director Oscar! David O. Selznick's second straight BP Oscar and the first of only THREE Hitchcock films he produced after initially luring him to Hollywood with a FOUR picture, $800,000 contract. The other two were Spellbound (1945) and The Paradine Case (1947), which both starred recently deceased Gregory Peck. In case you care, Notorious (1946) (produced by Hitchcock himself) was counted as the fourth picture in the contract. The film also won for B&W Cinematography, and received nine more nominations including for leads Laurence Olivier & Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson's Support as Mrs. Danvers, and Screenplay Writing. George Sanders, Gladys Cooper, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denny, C. Aubrey Smith, and Leo G. Carroll round out the cast.

Widower Olivier brings his new wife (Fontaine) home to his mansion named Manderlay, "run" by Anderson, who isn't the only servant in the house who resents the intrusion on his former wife's memory. Her husband fails to adequately reassure her, and the tension builds throughout the film towards its tragic ending.

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