Dir: Alfred Hitchcock | Cast: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, Judith Anderson, Gladys Cooper | UK drama 130’
Alfred Hitchcock incredibly never won an Oscar as best director. The nearest he came was the Best Picture statuette awarded this timeless classic which he arrived in Hollywood to make passing Olivier just as the latter was about to bid farewell to his career as a Hollywood hunk and return to the West End stage.
As befits a novel by Daphne du Maurier the men are largely sidelined, the real conflict being between the women, particularly the war of nerves waged by the terrifying Mrs Danvers on Joan Fontaine (who was as genuinely as overwhelmed by her surroundings as the mousy little wife she played).
Rarely mentioned is the fact that the final close up of the monogrammed pillow consumed by flames obviously inspired the shot at the end of ‘Citizen Kane‘ just as the opening shot of Manderlay in ruins was probably copied in the shots of Xanadu that bookended the later film. Kane was edited by Robert Wise, so is it merely coincidence that the prologue of Rebecca bears a striking resemblance to the conclusion of Wise’s The Haunting? @RichardChatten