Starring: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Running Time: 130 mins
Rebecca is an American film about a young woman who, after moving into an upper-class estate, finds herself tormented in her new marriage by the shadow of her new husband’s late first wife hanging over her.
This is an absolutely thrilling and unpredictable romantic mystery, it’s a true classic with some fantastic performances, an intriguing story, and a very unique and effective haunted house atmosphere, which turns this thriller into somewhat of a psychological horror in some respects.
The best thing about this film is that, despite being one of Hitchcock’s less original ‘romantic thrillers’ (à la Suspicion etc., it’s still properly exciting and unpredictable for the majority of the duration.
This is shown most evidently in the first two-thirds of the movie, one part of which is just establishing the main romance and the characters, and even that is still very well-paced and interesting to watch. However, the best part of the whole film comes in the second phase of these two-thirds, where this young woman first arrives at the grand estate of her new husband.
Immediately, you feel really uneasy and tense about the whole situation, and the whole story about the dead first wife makes it all the more mysterious and frightening. What most adds to that suspense, however, is the amazingly eerie haunted house atmosphere that you get from this film, furthered by the presence of the creepy maid, who really makes everything quite uneasy.
Obviously, it’s not a horror film, nor does it have anything supernatural involved, but the atmosphere that it gives off in this first part of the film makes for a distressing time for the young woman (played excellently by Joan Fontaine), as well as a really suspicious time for everyone around her, including her husband (Laurence Olivier).
So, for about an hour and a half, this is an absolutely riveting, twisting, turning and constantly unpredictable thriller, the end is not so much. Whilst it’s got a great punchline at the very end that you don’t see coming at all, the final phase plays out a lot more like a courtroom drama, to which you sort of already know the answer to, and although it’s still pretty exciting to watch, it doesn’t reach the exhilarating heights of the first part of the film, so overall, this gets an 8.3 from me.