A string of classic suspense films produced in England had earned Alfred Hitchcock a reputation in the United States, and his first American production, REBECCA, cemented his fame. Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, REBECCA was conceived to rival producer David O. Selznick's previous epic, GONE WITH THE WIND. This psychological thriller, however, derives its grandeur from Hitchcock's careful cultivation of the title character's haunting legacy. Joan Fontaine takes the starring role and narrates the story of her life as the second Madam de Winter. Fontaine, young and innocent, meets the worldly and sophisticated Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier) while vacationing on the Riviera. After a whirlwind romance and marriage, the two return to his opulent English estate, Maderley, where Fontaine begins to realize she is not entirely welcome in her new role. Chief among her detractors is housekeeper Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), who points out her every failing in relation to the previous mistress of the house, Rebecca. Fontaine is nearly driven to suicide by her inability to understand the mysterious legacy of the first wife. However, when a ship washes ashore, the mystery begins to unravel, setting the stage for the memorable and fiery climax.
Hitchcock cameo: Hitchcock stands outside a phone booth watching Jack Favell (George Sanders).
Hitchcock vetoed David Niven for the role of Max de Winter.
Hitchcock had the opportunity to buy the rights for REBECCA while shooting THE LADY VANISHES but thought the price was too high at the time.
Hitchcock used miniatures for scenes of the mansion and the road leading to the house.
"...The film remains mesmerizing throughout..." (Sight and Sound)
"...REBECCA may be the most assured women's pic ever made..." (Entertainment Weekly)