A string of classic suspense films produced in England had earned Alfred Hitchcock a reputation in the United States, and his first American production, REBECCA, cemented his fame. Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, REBECCA was conceived to rival producer David O. Selznick's previous epic, GONE WITH THE WIND. This psychological thriller, however, derives its grandeur from Hitchcock's careful cultivation of the title character's haunting legacy. Joan Fontaine takes the starring role and narrates the story of her life as the second Madam de Winter. Fontaine, young and innocent, meets the worldly and sophisticated Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) while vacationing on the Riviera. After a whirlwind romance and marriage, the two return to his opulent English estate, Maderley, where Fontaine begins to realize she is not entirely welcome in her new role. Chief among her detractors is housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), who points out her every failing in relation to the previous mistress of the house, Rebecca. Fontaine is nearly driven to suicide by her inability to understand the mysterious legacy of the first wife. However, when a ship washes ashore, the mystery begins to unravel, setting the stage for the memorable and fiery climax.
Academy Awards Best Picture 1940
Academy Awards Best Cinematography 1940 George Barnes American Cinematographer