D: Alfred Hitchcock
Selznick (David O. Selznick)
US 1940
130 mins


W: Robert E. Sherwood & Joan Harrison [based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier]             
DP: George Barnes
Ed: James E. Newcom & Hal C. Kern
Mus: Franz Waxman 
PD: Lyle Wheeler

Laurence Olivier (Maxim de Winter), Joan Fontaine (Mrs. de Winter), George Sanders (Jack Favell), Judith Anderson (Mrs. Danvers), Nigel Bruce (Maj. Giles Lacy), C. Aubrey Smith (Col. Julyan), Reginald Denny (Frank Crawley), Gladys Cooper (Beatrice Lacy)

The naïve, young second wife of a rich landowner is haunted by the image of his beautiful first wife shortly after they get married.
Rebecca was Alfred Hitchcock's first American movie was his only film to win a Best Picture Oscar, yet it's still one of the greatest crimes that he never won a Best Director Oscar in his own right.
Rebecca is a great example of the legendary director's work. It's a perfectly blended romance, thriller & mystery with excellent performances from both Laurence Olivier & Joan Fontaine, plus excellent supporting performances from the rest of the ensemble.
Based on a novel by Daphne du Maurier, this movie has twists which I really didn't see coming and is beautifully captured with atmospheric black & white photography.
A bona fide classic.

Judith Anderson & Joan Fontaine in Rebecca
Judith Anderson & Joan Fontaine in Rebecca


D: Ben Wheatley

Netflix / Working Title / Big Talk (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner & Nira Park)

UK 2020

121 mins


W: Jane Goldman, Joe Shrapnel & Anna Waterhouse [based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier]

DP: Laurie Rose

Ed: Jonathan Amos

Mus: Clint Mansell

PD: Sarah Greenwood

Cos: Julian Day

Lily James (Mrs. de Winter), Armie Hammer (Maxim de Winter), Kristin Scott-Thomas (Mrs. Danvers), Keeley Hawes (Beatrice Lacy), Ann Dowd (Mrs. Van Hopper), Sam Riley (Jack Favell)

A remake of the 1940 film, with Lily James playing the young naive woman who falls for the charms of wealthy widower Maxim de Winter, becoming haunted by the spirit of his first wife shortly after they marry.

The trouble with remakes is that they have to improve upon the original film in some way, especially if the previous version has dated poorly or had significant faults, however, the 1940 adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel is still a masterpiece of cinema from Alfred Hitchcock that won Best Picture at the Oscars. How can it possibly be improved?

The short answer is: it can’t, so this version exists for financial reasons only.  This is far more predictable (perhaps as I knew the story anyway), and aside from Kristin Scott-Thomas, the performances is ridiculously miscast. Lily James fails to capture the innocence that Joan Fontaine brought to the role and Armie Hammer is certainly no Laurence Olivier. The only area in the whole film where I could possibly see an improvement on the original is with the sets and costume design.

Perhaps it’s unfair to judge this film against the original, but since I consider the 1940 version to be amongst the best films ever made, it’s simply impossible not to.  As a TV mini-series I may have been more forgiving, but as a feature film release, it fails to justify its existence.


Armie Hammer & Lily James in Rebecca
Armie Hammer & Lily James in Rebecca