Rebecca ★★★★★

On this viewing I tried to watch the production design with greater care than usual; when you give yourself over to this movie it's truly intoxicating, particularly in the second act, despite admirable restraint and tension that seem to tug and pull at you for the duration. Ended up marveling yet again over the perfection of the two lead performances: Olivier fully embodying a character so difficult to pin down, in all his ambiguity; Fontaine creating someone who should be instantly familiar to any introvert who's ever tried to make him or herself seem smaller. Few films with stories this subtle -- you can't really define exactly what it is that so alienates Mrs. de Winter when she arrives at Manderley, but you can feel it -- communicate with such admirable clarity. Neither Selznick nor Hitchcock ever did anything else quite like this, but Hitchcock's technique proves remarkably adaptable to something that feels absolutely nothing like any of his British films with the possible exception of Sabotage (the chilly marital relationship) which of course did not encompass the Gothic romance he uncovers here that suits him so well, and that I'm convinced had a large impact on his approach to the text in Vertigo.

Old full review (revised not too long ago, with spoilers) here. Shout-out to the moment when a distraught Fontaine follows the terrifying Judith Anderson into Rebecca's bedroom and pays no mind to her hat falling onto the stairs behind her.

Nathan liked these reviews