A Year: Day to Day Men: 27th of February, Solar Year 2018

On the Lake

February 27, 1940, was the general release of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca”.

The film “Rebecca” is a 1940 American romantic psychological thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It was Hitchcock’s first American project under contract with David O. Selznick. It was based on the book of the same name by Daphne du Maurier with an adaption by Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan. The film star Laurence Olivier played the aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine played the young woman who became his second wife.

The film is a gothic tale shot in black and white. Maxim de Winter’s first wife Rebecca, who died before the events of the film, is never seen. Her reputation and recollections of her, however, are a constant presence in the lives of Maxim, the housekeeper Mrs Danvers (Judith Anderson), and especially the new wife, Mrs. de Winter. The young bride’s first name is never mentioned in the film; she is always referred to as Mrs. de Winter.

At the 13th Academy Awards in 1941, “Rebecca” won two awards, ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Cinematography, Black and White’, out of a total 11 nominations. Olivier, Fontaine and Anderson also were Oscar-nominated for their respective roles as were Hitchcock and the screenwriters. It is the only film since 1936 (when awards for actors in supporting roles were first introduced) that, despite winning Best Picture, received no Academy Award for acting, directing or writing.

Selznick insisted that the film be faithful to the novel. According to the book “It’s Only a Movie”, Selznick wanted the smoke from the burning Manderley to spell out a huge “R”. Hitchcock thought the touch lacked subtlety. While Selznick was preoccupied by the procuction of “Gone with the Wind”, Hitchcock was able to replace the smoky “R” with the burning of a monogrammed négligée case lying atop a bed pillow.

According to Leonard J. Leff’s book “Hitchcock and Selznick”, Selznick took control of the film once Hitchcock had completed filming, reshooting many sequences and re-recording many performances. Some sources say this experience led Hitchcock to edit future pictures “in camera” -shooting only what he wanted to see in the final film, a method of filmmaking that restricts a producer’s power to re-edit the picture.

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