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“Rebecca”- {Blu-ray)
John A. Reese
Studio: MGM
Release Date:
January 24th, 2012
Special Features:

See Below


Alfred Hitchcock is arguably one of the best directors of all time. Rebecca was his first Hollywood feature and the only film he directed that received the award for Best Picture. Hitchcock said that he had did not have a pleasant time directing the film. Mostly because him and the producer, David O. Selznick, were like water and oil. However, the movie was mostly a learning experience, but there are moments of brilliance which indicated that Hitchcock would become a legendary director.***

Anyway the movie begins with a dream sequence. Mrs. De Winter (Joan Fontaine), the second Mrs. De Winter, is dreaming of going back to Manderley, the old manor house. Then there is lash back to how she came to Manderley in the first place. She was staying in Monte Carlo with a rich woman, Edythe Van Hopper (Florence Bates), working as her assistant. There she meets Maxim De Winter (Laurence Olivier), a widower still grieving from the loss of his wife and he is less than courteous with Edythe or the second Mrs. De Winter, who doesn't have a name in the movie. To simplify the review I’m just going to call the Second Mrs. DeWinter, Joan, since she is played by Joan Fontaine. Later he bumps into Joan while the two are both eating breakfast and this time he invites her to eat with him, as a way of apologizing for his previous behavior. He even drives her to the sea so she can draw the countryside. He's still morose, especially after Joan mentions a man drowned there last year. The two seem to have a connection and start spending all her free time together. When Edythe's daughter decides to get married, she and Joan have to go to New York for the wedding. However, Maxim proposes to Joan.***

Maxim and Joan are married right away and shortly after that they go to Manderley. Joan got a warning from Edythe about the demands of being a lady of a manor, but Maxim says not to worry, as the day-to-day maintenance will be done by Mrs. Danvers. Unfortunately, Mrs. Danvers is the only member of the manor's staff that is not friendly to Joan. When Maxim's sister and her husband, Beatrice and Major Giles Lacy, come for lunch, Beatrice is quite blunt in her warning about Mrs. Danvers. She came to Manderley when the Rebecca was the first Mrs. de Winter and practically worships the memory of Rebecca. As much as Joan tries to adapt to her new home, Mrs. Danvers and the shadow of Rebecca always loom nearby. Additionally, Maxim still tends to be moody and sporadic at times. She begins to think she will never be able to replace Rebecca in Maxim's heart.***

The main problem I had with Rebecca was that it was very slow moving. At times it was hard to keep up with. Also this is nowhere near the top five films in his career. It’s probably in the top ten. Nevertheless, Hitchcock sets the mood wonderfully, and the viewers will feel both the romance and the dread of living in Manderley. There is plenty of dread in the film, especially in the end.***

Image & Sound:

For a film that’s almost 70 years old, the audio and video sound pretty good. There is too much grain in some of the shots and you can tell there is some print damage and lack of details, but this is to be expected given the age of the film. It's more than 70 years old, so one shouldn't be surprised there's a bit too much grain in some shots, or that there are scenes that are lacking in details, or that there are a few instances of print damage. The audio track is mono, but it sounds good for the current slate of Hitchcock’s Blu-ray movies. The dialogue is always clear, but there is a slight hiss at times. It’s nothing to distracting though.***

Special Features:

There are plenty of extras on the disc, which is a relief. There is an audio commentary by film critic Richard Schnickel, but it lacks energy, but makes up for with some interesting insight and information. Next you can watch the movie with an isolated music and effects tracks. There are several featurettes that include “The Making of Rebecca”, which talk about the conflict between Hitchcock and Selznick and how challenging it was to adapt “Rebecca” onto the big screen. The other featurette is called “The Gothic World of Daphne Du Maurier, which is a fascinating look at the author of the book. There are also screen tests and Hitchcock audio reviews. In addition, there are several radio plays on the disc based off the novel. One of them features the legendary Orson Welles, which is always a plus. Finally, there is the standard theatrical trailer. Unfortunately, all of these special features are in standard definition.***

Final Words:

Ultimately, “Rebecca” is a slow moving film and somewhat complex, but it also has some great performances and the film has a creepy ambience to it. It’s not Hitchcock’s best film, but I think it’s at least worth a rental. However, it’s a must for fans of the director.***


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