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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on December 14, 2003
Note: Get the Criterion DVD before it is too late! (It's supposed to go out of print on the 31st of December, 2003). While Hitchcock's masterpiece is still stunning after all these years, the DVD I watched, published by Anchor Bay, is pretty weak; the Criterion Collection DVD of "Rebecca" has much more in the way of extras and special features, which is half the appeal of getting a classic on DVD.
Anchor Bay's DVD only has a chapter selection and "start" on the menu. Not even closed captioning, which makes this DVD inaccessible to older or deaf fans.
Still, even a weak DVD presentation can't take away from such a beautiful film. A TV presenter recently introduced "Rebecca", by saying that Joan Fontaine was too pretty to be believable in the role of a plain girl. Missing the point! "Rebecca" is a story from the point of view of a scared, insecure heroine who believes the worst of herself and is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like the heroine of "Northanger Abbey," perhaps the gothic atmosphere here is really created out of her hopes and fears - "Rashomon"-style where each person sees a different thing. The book "Venus in Spurs" has most of a chapter devoted to "Rebecca," and how much this film and book relate to women who struggle through insecurity, despite being loved. (To say more might ruin the movie for first-time viewers).
Fontaine is, of course, very good, as is Laurence Olivier, who has scarcely *ever* been more handsome and commanding. Among the strong supporting cast is George Saunders and Dame Judith Anderson. While Anderson's usually singled out in reviews and hindsight, her obsessive maid could hardly be that malevolent, if the audience didn't feel so sympathetic towards Fontaine's sweet, mild Mrs. de Winter. Really, Fontaine needed Anderson in this performance to really pull it off; and the reverse is equally true. I also think Florence Bates adds quite a bit here as the bitchy and bossy Mrs. Van Hopper, also providing a strong showing in another wonderful film, "A Letter to Three Wives," which, come to think of it, is also about wives and their suspicions of their husbands... and Bates' character sets up trouble for one of the "Letter" wives with her thoughtlessness in that picture, too.
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on February 28, 2003
Rebecca was Alfred Hitchcock's debut as an American director and the only one of his films to ever win a Best Picture Oscar. Creatively the relationship between Hitch' and producer David O. Selznick was a tumultuous one but it yielded some of the finest examples of suspense cinema Hollywood has ever known. PLOT: Rebecca is the story of a rich playboy who remarries after his first wife's mysterious death. Based on the novel by Daphne Du Maurier, Hitch' was forced to change a key element in the original story in order to get the production past the censors. No, I can't tell you what that is. It would ruin the film for a first time audience. Suffice it to say, if you haven't seen this classic you should. It's a chilling suspense film that continues to hold its own.
Criterion has done a masterful job on the transfer. However, I'd really like someone at Criterion to explain why an alternative main title sequence was used in the remastering of this disc. The original release of Rebecca through Anchor Bay Home Video retained the title sequence that audiences saw back in 1940. It also was a heck of a lot cheaper than Criterion's new version, though Anchor Bay's version is also out of print, unfortunately. In comparing the two transfers, they appear, other than the main title sequence, to be virtually identical. Black and white contrast is superb and the original mono tracks have been nicely restored. Criterion offers a "musical score only" track that I was really looking forward to until I realized that some of the tracks included herein were substitutions. That and the main title sequence substitution are two major sticking points with me since Criterion is usually a company that prides itself on "doing things right" and charging the customer royally for the priviledge. Also included: the Lux Radio broadcast of the film and a theatrical trailer and that's about it. No making of documentary which is a real disappointment. The detailed booklet included explains the film's production nicely. Still, a documentary would have been nicer. Overall, I wouldn't spend the extra money on Criterion's version if the option of finding Anchor Bay's original release in a used bin at my local video retailer became an viable option. Regardless, Rebecca is definitely a masterpiece, a great work of suspense and a brilliant addition to any DVD collection.
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on January 17, 2003
Allow me to preface my review by stating that Rebecca is my absolute favorite movie. When I heard about the release of this DVD with all of the special features, I ordered it immediately and could hardly wait for it to arrive in the mail. When I popped in the special features DVD, my bubble of excitement suddenly burst. The features were mostly stills and audio recordings, which is great if you are in front of a computer, but not so great when you're lying on the couch.
Watching the actual film with the restoration of sound and images was a treat, and I am grateful to the folks who restored this film. Now Rebecca is forever safe from the fate of all celluloid. This, alone, is worth the price of admission.
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on June 27, 2003
There are some spoilers below, so please don't continue unless you want to know/have seen the film.
Overall, the film kept my interest with plenty of suspense, twists, and beautiful cinematography. I could even look beyond the stylized acting that was more common back then. However, there are three things that bothered me. First (and my primary criticism), as one reviewer indicated below, it's hard to empathize with Max deWinters. We're supposed to want him and Mrs. deWinters II to end up together. Am I the only one who kept shouting throughout "What are you doing? Leave the idiot?!!!" He's not particularly nice to the heroine and has a nasty temper/is extremely moody. Also, I know they changed the ending to make it more sympathetic towards him and to "explain" his actions more, but he's still a criminal in various ways. How would she know she's not also going to become a victim? Second, the stereotypes of the women really bothered me. We have the mousy heroine who has no backbone, the cold and insane lesbian housekeeper, the promiscuous slut who deserves her death. Ugh. Third, I don't think the characters' actions often made sense. For instance, if Max deWinters had those feelings towards his first wife, why did he keep Mrs. Danvers around? Why was she kept after she tried to convince Mrs. deWinters II to kill herself? And why did the doctor's news motivate Mrs. deWinters I to do the things she did the last night of her life? Perhaps these things are better explained in the novel but I left with more questions than answers.
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on September 26, 2000
I can see a lot of people are giving five-star reviews, which is why I am submitting a less enthusiastic response. To me, while I could see that it was built on a great story, and had some terrific acting performances, overall the effect was not what it should have been and I was disappointed.
I just watched it last night, and I think it could have been a lot better. I bet the book was a lot better. The movie left me with the feeling that the surface was just being skimmed, and at an overly rapid pace, too. Laurence Olivier was super, but I think Joan Fontaine was much better at being happy than being upset - probably just an example of how acting styles have changed, but I got a little seasick watching her head movements used to express uncertainty and confusion. I have also seen more effective work from Hitchcock and others and creating a mood of mysteriousness and suspense that this film needed. This film made me want to read the book or watch some recent BBC re-make. The problem with this movie lies mostly in the craft of screenwriting (too much on the surface) and in the rapid pace that detracts from the suspense, and from a lack of moodiness. Otherwise it is an interesting story, rather like The Secret Garden or Jane Eyre, with a heroine to whom you can relate (even if she does make you want to scream sometimes.)
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on December 9, 2001
Alfred Hitchcock's great interpretation of Daphne du Maurier's much loved novel "REBECCA" finally arrives in a two disc set that's jam packed with extras including, make up tests, hundreds of production and publicity photos, three radio broadcast of the story and a wonderful commentary by film scholar Leonard Jeff. Joan Fontaine is the plane Jane new wife of handsome widower Maxim de Winter (Lawrence Olivier). Only problem is, his mansion Manderlay on the Cornwall coast is still in the grip of the late Mrs. de Winter. The scary housekeeper is the unforgettable Judith Anderson. A lavish production and pristine transfer of an opulent David O. Selznick production. The ultimate version.
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on February 26, 2004
If you are a die hard Alfred Hitchcock fan, than this DVD is a must own! However, I feel this DVD is over priced for what you get. The movie itself isn't Hitchcock's best work, a bit dry and boring in parts...which I rarely say about Alfred Hitchcock films.
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