NOTE: This post is a review of a Hitchcock film that was seen projected on 35mm at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, TN, as part of their Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense Series. These movies were not watched on DVD, but in a theater, projected on film.
How do you live up to a legacy of perfection? That is the question that forms the entire narrative thread for Hitchcock's Rebecca. One of his most universally revered films, and, probably, one of my least favorite of his "popular canon". Joan Fontaine plays a young common girl who meets a rich socialite, Max de Winter (Laurence Olivier), and marries him, only to find that his dead wife was the object of everyone's affection, primarily for her ability to be perfect at everything she did. How will the new Mrs. de Winter handle it? Will she buckle under the pressure? or set a different standard by which the deWinter house operates?
I've never particularly liked this film. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that this is one of the very few Hitchcock films that feels like anyone else could have made it. All of his films have his stamp all over them. When you see one, there's little denying it's a Hitchcock. Not so with Rebecca. The film is, at worst, mediocre, which is still more than you can say for a lot of films, but given that it is from a master, and especially during the period where he was TRULY establishing himself as such, here in America, you would think he would have found some way to do more than plop out a fairly pedestrian seeming adaptation. The theme is great, but the way he tackles it never suggests any real innovation or concern as to establishing how this picture fits into the broader scheme of Hitchcock.