'Rebecca' [Blu ray]
(Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1940) 2011 / MGM)
Overview: When a naive young woman marries a rich widower and settles in his gigantic mansion, she finds the memory of the first wife maintaining a grip on her husband and the servants.
Blu ray Verdict: This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Definitely my favorite classic. There are some that come close, such as 'Citizen Kane', 'Spellbound', and 'Psycho', but none quite compare to this amazing movie.
The first thing that you notice is the outstanding cinematography. You have to remember that this movie was made in 1940, when they didn't have the technology we have now. But that first shot of the water beating up against the rocks grabs you and for one split second you wonder if maybe this isn't part of the movie but rather something filmed just recently. But then you see the familiar face of Laurence Olivier, reminding you that this was made 60 years ago, a fact that forever amazes me. The only oscar it won besides Best Picture was well deserved.
Another thing that makes it such a wonderful film is the acting. I have debated on whether Laurence Olivier's character, the tortured Maxim de Winter, is the pitiable character or if his second wife played by Joan Fontaine is really the one to feel sorry for. Every time I watch it I see it from a different point of view. Joan Fontaine is excellent. Laurence Olivier is wonderful, but that's no surprise. The only thing that bugs me is that it seems in every movie he's in (well, at least, everything I've seen him in), he always plays the same type of character. But he's extremely good at it, so I suppose it doesn't matter.
But although Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier are wonderful, Judith Anderson steals the show! The first time I watched the movie, I was immediately grabbed by her stunning performance as the sinister Mrs. Danvers. You hardly notice the other characters when she's in the scene. She acted the part so well that it's strange to imagine that she was any different in real life.
With a wonderful storyline, and a very surprising ending, Rebecca well deserves the title as the only of Hitchcock's films to win the oscar for Best Picture. Although it may not be the most famous of all his films, it is without a doubt the greatest.
This film is worth the time to watch again and again. And it now comes in crystal clear, remastered Blu ray with a whole slew of wonderful Bonus Features to enjoy! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.37:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Commentary by Richard Schickel
Isolated Music and Effects Track
The Making of Rebecca
The Gothic World of Daphne DuMaurier
Radio Plays features the original 1938 version starring Orson Welles; a 1941 Cecil B. DeMille version starring Ronald Colman, Ida Lupino and Judith Anderson; and a 1950 version with Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh
Hitchcock Audio Interviews includes chats with Peter Bogdanovich