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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Great performances from de Havilland and Burton...Oct. 1 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
If Gothic romance is your thing, you won't find a more absorbing and intriguing tale than this adaptation of Daphne DuMaurier's best-selling novel, MY COUSIN RACHEL. Not only is the atmosphere completely realized, but the elegant performances make the story even more compelling to watch as it unfolds a tale of possible murder and cunning deceit. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards for best costumes, B&W cinematography, art decoration and Burton's supporting role performance (which is actually a leading role).
RICHARD BURTON cuts a fine figure as the romantic hero of the piece--brooding, intense and passionate, reminding one of Heathcliff in the Bronte novel, "Wuthering Heights." He's an angry and impressionable youth who intends to accuse his cousin of murder based on his suspicious nature, but instead falls wildly in love with her the instant they meet.
OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND matches Burton scene by scene, her charming manners and poise as a woman of the world understandably provoking his interest. At first, he assumes she wants to claim her inheritance when she visits Cornwall. But soon he is able to see her in a different light and when he falls in love with her, he decides to leave his entire inheritance to her on his 25th birthday. It is then that the story becomes even more compelling when the ambiguous nature of Rachel comes at long last to the surface.
Franz Waxman has written a very dramatic and powerful background score that adds dimension to the Gothic tale that begins when a boy and his guardian walk across the moors and come to a gibbet where a man is hanging. "Always remember, Philip, death is the price for murder." And that's how the film's brief prologue begins.
It's richly scored, well directed by Henry Koster and features two outstanding performances from Olivia de Havilland and Richard Burton. Equally fine are John Sutton as Rachel's ill-fated husband, Audrey Dalton, Ronald Squire and George Dolenz.
Despite the ambiguous ending, it's an absorbing tale that is satisfying in its execution. The newly restored DVD includes an isolated "music score only" for those fascinated by Franz Waxman's wonderful background score.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Gothic HeavenNov. 27 2011
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The 1952 film version of Daphne du Maurier's wonderful novel, My Cousin Rachel, is everything a Gothic mystery fan could want and more. Olivia de Havilland and 23-year-old Richard Burton (in his American film début) star in this moody tale of a rich young man in 1840s Cornwall and his relationship with his foster father's enigmatic widow. When his beloved father figure dies mysteriously on his honeymoon in Italy, Philip Ashley (Burton) inherits his entire estate--and the aforementioned widow (de Havilland). He is expected to "do the right thing" and provide for the penniless beauty, so he gallantly invites her to his home. What follows are passion, sexual obsession, greed, cat-and-mouse mind games...and possibly murder.
This Twilight Time DVD is a welcome addition to my film library--I've placed it on the shelf right next to Hitchcock's Rebecca. I don't know why the folks at 20th Century Fox don't give RACHEL a DVD release, but until they do, this is the one to have. There are a lot of bootleg versions out there, and they're really bad (stolen from TV broadcasts, etc.). Get this one, and enjoy one of the best non-Hitchcock suspense films around. Highly recommended.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
fantastic period movieAug. 11 2009
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
I HAVE NEVER ENJOYED A MOVIE MORE THEN THIS ONE BURTON AND DE HAVILLAND ARE AT THEIR BEST. THEY DON'T MAKE MOVIES LIKE THIS ANY MORE.SUPERB ACTING,AND A STORY LINE THAT CONTAINS ALL.A THRILLER.WITH ROMANCE,LOVE,HATE,INTRIGUE , AND ENHANCES YOUR SENSES AS TO THE MULTIPLE COMPLEX MAKE-UP OF ALL HUMANS.YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS MOVIE IF YOU GET THE CHANCE IT MAY NEVER COME AGAIN. I WOULD GIVE IT A TEN IF POSSIBLE
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"A study in jealousy"Sept. 13 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
Daphne du Maurier used this phrase to speak of both of her most famous novels, REBECCA and MY COUSIN RACHEL, which have frequently been compared. They both feature Cornish seaside ancestral homes, and they both explore confusing erotic triangles involving the dead and the living. Fittingly, both novels were turned into great Hollywood Gothic films; though the film of REBECCA is one of the most famous of all films from Hollywood's Golden Age, MY COUSIN RACHEL is far less well known today, although it is as powerful and may even be as great. Like REBECCA, it also features an unforgettable score by Franz Waxman (which can be beautifully isolated on this Twilight Time limited edition DVD), and great costumes, set design, and especially cinematography. The parallels seem to have struck the studio too, since Twentieth-Century Fox cast Olivia de Havilland, the sister of Joan Fontaine (the lead in Paramount's REBECCA), in the title role, and in the male lead, instead of Laurence Olivier (the Max de Winter of the 1940 Hitchcock film), Richard Burton, who in his debut film performance here very much recalls Olivier.
Why the film is not better known today is hard to say, and may have something to do with its setting in the very early Victorian period: certainly this was not the most attractive era for women's fashions, and De Havilland's hairstyle in her early scenes (in braids coiled round her ears, like Princess Leia) could not flatter anyone. But when her hair is brought down later in the film she shows herself as still one of the greatest beauties of Hollywood's Golden Age, and her intensity and fine Method training in the Forties serve her in excellent stead too. Originally Fox was said to have wanted Vivien Leigh for the role of Rachel Sangeletti, and though she certainly would have given a more carnal performance than De Havilland (whose exquisite diction is perhaps not put to its best use as the sensual Rachel), she could not have played the role with more intelligence--always De Havilland's best asset as a mature actress. As Philip, the nephew of Rachel's first husband (and like the elder man Rachel's cousin), Burton sometimes recalls Olivier's worst tendencies, such as his habit of speaking too quickly and loudly when he's angry, such that Burton's explosive scene in the church with Audrey Dalton is overdone. But he is here at his most beautiful, and he exhibits an almost palpable passion before De Havilland (reportedly the two did not get along, which may have given heat to their many scenes together).
The film's greatest asset, however is Nunnelly Johnson's relative fidelity to Du Maurier's beautifully constructed story. Was Rachel innocent, or was she guilty? MY COUSIN RACHEL is ambiguous in ways even REBECCA was not, and dares to suggest that this key question may ultimately unanswerable. Philip believes Rachel has murdered his cousin, but like his cousin becomes so besotted by her he cannot refuse her anything--his money, his family's jewels, even his own hand in marriage... which the wily Rachel is of course far too canny to accept. Twilight Time made only 3000 copies of this DVD edition, and it is absolutely worth buying. This is one of the forgotten treasures of the Hollywood studio era.
Phillip Ashley's cousin and guardian has died in Florence in mysterious circumstances. A life-long bachelor, he married some months before his death. Mysterious letters insinuating that his wife is somehow responsible for his death arrive too late for Phillip to do anything except travel to Florence in time to find Ambrose dead and the mysterious wife Rachel gone. But all is not clear as Ambrose may have had a brain tumor that accounts for his strange preoccupations, the doctors certainly believe so.
Not to worry, Rachel is on her way to Cornwall to see Phillip and they finally meet in his ancestral home, a home he doesn't inherit until his twenty-fifth brithday. Phillip falls under the spell of the beautiful and charming Rachel. So much so that he transfers the estate to Rachel, believing that this is what Ambrose would have wanted. Once the estate is hers, Rachel begins behaving very differently towards Phillip, who becomes ill and paranoid in his turn. Is Rachel a conniving adventuress and murderess or is she an unlucky woman who brings tragedy in her wake? As in the novel, the answer remains ambiguous. Based on the classic novel by du Maurier and featuring wonderful performances by de Havilland and Burton this is a minor classic of the silver screen and not to be missed. Amazing all around.