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Oscars Challenge #72: Rebecca (1940) Movie Review


It's pretty funny that in the history of the Oscars, Alfred Hitchcock, one of the greatest directors of all time, never won a Best Director award despite having multiple films ranked as one of the best all-time such as Vertigo, North By Northwest, Rope, etc.


Luckily, in 1940, his film was at least awarded the Best Picture award.


Rebecca, I would say, is one of the most incredible Best Pictures of all time. It blends excellent thriller, drama, and mystery wildly.


Probably the funniest thing about this movie is that despite its title being Rebecca, she never physically existed, and no actress portrayed her. Also, like many other Hitchcock films, he always has a brief and unimportant cameo.


Plot Summary


The film begins when a wealthy man named Maxim de Winter contemplates jumping to the edge of a cliff. A young woman, whose real name is unknown throughout the movie, shouts at him and prevents him from committing suicide.


Back in Monte Carlo, the two get attracted to each other despite warnings from one of the young woman's friends that he is still attached to his dead wife, Rebecca. Soon, she becomes the second Mrs. de Winter.


The couple went back to Manderley to Maxim's grand mansion. Upon arrival, Mrs. de Winter was greeted by the housekeepers led by Mrs. Danvers. Her chilling personality and attachment to the first Mrs. de Winter make her a threat to Maxim's second wife. She even preserved Rebecca's grand bedroom and kept it unchanged out of respect for her.


Mrs. de Winter's stay in the mansion is marked by Mrs. Danvers's stories about how glorious and glamorous Rebecca was. To the housekeepers, she is an omnipotent figure that cannot be replaced. However, Mrs. de Winter had plans to replace her and become the new Rebecca.


This movie presents the talents of Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, and Judith Anderson.


Review


Alfred Hitchcock is a genius.


First, the way the characters were presented was perfect. It builds tension, suspense, and mystery. The second Mrs. de Winter, played by Joan Fontaine, was built up perfectly. Her unknown name makes it feel like she is vulnerable to other threats. At the same time, keeping Rebecca anonymous also makes her capable of replacing her. But, the one that adds to the mystery is the presence of Mrs. Danvers, who torments Mrs. de Winter and constantly reminds her that she can never replace Rebecca.


Second, the way it was shot. Like most Alfred Hitchcock films, the way the movie is shot and how it builds tension is incredible. The legendary director is hands-on when it comes to editing, which makes it look natural. Also, the score incorporated within the movie perfectly describes how uneasily beautiful a masterpiece this is.


Lastly, the story. It is an undeniable classic and probably defines what a mystery genre should be. Even if you have the perfect characters and cinematography, they will never work if the plot is subpar. It will keep you hooked from start to end.


Overall, Rebecca is a great film that prides itself on excellent thrillers and suspense. Another surprising thing is this film is not Alfred Hitchcock's best work.


A perfect five out of five stars.

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