Producer David O. Selznick's 's second consecutive Best Picture (after the previous year's Gone With the Wind) and another enormously popular adaptation of a bestseller, this adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's novel was also the first American film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Screenwriters Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison recreated du Maurier's novel precisely, complete with the ideal casting of new star Laurence Olivier as brooding Maxim de Winter and insecure neophyte Joan Fontaine as his timid new bride. Rebecca displayed Hitchcock's unparalleled talent for ominous atmosphere, as he derived suspense from the clash between Fontaine and Judith Anderson's coldly sadistic, Rebecca-obsessed Mrs. Danvers. The elaborately appointed Manderley mansion became a character in itself, with Rebecca's expressively lit, diaphanously curtained bedroom, overlooking a suitably wild ocean, evoking her all-consuming absent presence. Selznick's and Hitchcock's attention to detail paid off with eleven Oscar nominations, including Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress, and it won the top prize as well as an award for George Barnes's cinematography. However, control freak Hitchcock took a break from control freak Selznick for his next film, Foreign Correspondent (1940).
by Lucia Bozzola review