Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again: Rebecca (1940)


It is time for our annual Alfred Hitchcock film!

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderly…

So one camping trip I was talking to my cousin who worked at Universal Studios about movies. She promised to send me shirt from The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, as I had liked the other The Mummy movies (which she never did. Still upset about that). We then moved to my favorite director Alfred Hitchcock. She had seen his films too and asked about which was my favorite. At the time, it was The Birds, and she told me hers was Rebecca. I hadn’t seen Rebecca yet, so as soon as I could get my hands on a copy, I watched it.

It has Laurence Olivier in it who I just love, and of course is who I consider the original Mr. Darcy.

It also has Joan Fontaine in it who I had loved in The Women and did great in Suspicion. Not to mention one of the creepiest housekeepers (although she’s on par with Milly from Under Capricorn). And of course it has George Sanders, who has one of the best voices-he oozes sarcasm, sophistication, and meanness, I don’t know how else to put it. Most of you will recognize him from All About Eve and the original Shere Khan from The Jungle Book. 

So I have been struggling whether to review the movie or the book first, as both perfect for Catherine Morland. She would be all over this book and film. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to do the film as I saw it first.

I wanted this to be the first movie of Horrorfest VIII, but I couldn’t use it as this year I needed to start it off with a 1950s film. So if I can’t start it, then I will end it with this gothic film-an Alfred Hitchcock film that Catherine Morland would go ape over.

So this film has some interesting “drama” behind the scenes.

This is going to get good…

Laurence Olivier was married to Vivian Leigh at the time and really wanted her to be in the film. I’m sure most of you have heard of his high standards from My Week with MarilynHe did not like Joan Fotaine, which made her nervous and worried-something Alfred Hitchcock loved to capitalize on. Move aside Stanley Kubrick, this is the original.

The film is based on the book by Daphne du Maurier. Both producer David O. Selznick and director Alfred Hitchcock were control freaks liked to be in control of their films-and when I say control I mean every aspect. So there was some serious issues between them. Selznick barred Hitchock from all writing while he banned Selznick from set.

Fight, fight, fight!

This was also the only film by Alfred Hitchcock that won an Oscar.

ONLY ONE? That’s sad!

So this film is rrreeeeeeeaaaaaallllllllyyyyyyyyy different from his other work as it starts off very slow, a romance, but then stuff gets real!

As it’s not like his other works, it’s not for everybody. All though we all know who’d be fangirling over it, that’s right-Catherine Morland.

So the film starts off bright (O’Selznick), then gets dark, gothic, foreboding woods (Hitchcock)

Oh, my favorite! Anything like that gets me excited, my Catherine Morland heart starts pumping.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly, Oh My Goodness-I love this opening with the language, it grabs you right away.

It is sucking me in!!!!!!!!

It grabs you right away-the secret, solemn, gothic, and foreboding Northanger Abbey Manderly.

So we go back in time to the south of France, a handsome man is about to jump off the cliff, but stopped by a woman. Who is this handsome man? Why he is played by Laurence Olivier.

Our heroine, who’s name is never given but played by Joan Fontaine, is a lady’s companion to an annoying woman, Edith Hopper.

The handsome man comes over and it is Maxim de Winter-Hopper treats our heroine like crap, but he is interested in her youthful beauty and kindness. Hopper tries to grill him, but he manages to move the conversation away from him.

Well-played!

Oh my goodness Mrs. Hopper, she’s AWFUL!!!!!!! Our poor heroine. Hopper dresses her down to remember her place, and to not speak to anyone above her.

It turns out that Mr. de Winter is a widower, gossip shared by Miss Hopper-he was madly in love with his wife and has been despondent ever since.

One morning our heroine was going to eat lunch alone, but Mr. de Winter spots her and invites her to his table. She is so young in spirit-clumsy, awkward, unsure, childlike.

Joan Fontaine is so cute and she has a sad back story in this. Mother died when she was young and she lived with father who died last year. Having no money and no place to live, is now a companion to a horrible women. She is just so kind and sweet and adorable-you feel so bad for her.

Maxim de Winter is handsome, charming, and he is captivated by our heroine’s honesty and naiveté. Maxim is a man who carries weariness in his soul. He takes her out where she planned to sketch.

They talk and she shares how she once went to Cornwall and saw this beautiful house on it, called Manderly. That just happens to be Maxim’s house. He talks about it and you can feel the weight if sadness coming on him.

Joan is so cute just talking on and on, Maxim takes her aback.

Going back to her room the heroine overhears her sick client talking bout Maxim de Winter. She goes on and on about how he was crazy about his beautiful wife. She drowned sailing a few years ago.

As our heroine’s boss is still sick she has free time and goes to have a tennis lesson, but gets interrupted by Maxim who takes her out. Soon everyday they are out together. Her client, Edith Van Hopper, is after Mr. de Winter, and has no clue that her companion is falling in love with him. She tries to get our heroine to stay and keep her occupied while she is sick, but…

Our heroine is so adorable-dreaming, wishing, hopeful. Youth and innocence brimming!

But it is all over too soon. After today the nurse is going and she needs her companion by her side day and night. Our heroine is despondent over this as she doesn’t want her time with Maxim to end.

Maxim is handsome and charming, but something about him isn’t quite right. There is a deep wound to him, but what?

One day they are out and our heroine wants to know why he picked her over the other women, he could have anyone-someone older, sophisticated, classy, etc. He tells her he enjoys her company, but as he says it, he says it a little harsh and our heroine becomes upset, but then he kindly tells her to call him by his first name. And later sends her flowers.

Mrs. Van Hopper receives a letter about her daughter becoming engaged and they must leave for America ASAP. But no, what about Maxim!!! Our heroine tries to reach him, but no avail. This is it. Her fairytale is over. She rushes back to her room to reach him one last time, but doesn’t get a chance. Her boss comes and it is goodbye.

She tries one more time but he’s in the shower. NOOOOO!

But our heroine wont give up. She runs up to his room as a last ditch effort. Maxim is surprised, but our heroine tells him she needed to say goodbye.

Maxim “proposes”. He basically asks her “do you prefer New York or Manderly?” Gosh, these classic English dudes need to earn better proposals.

Maxim trying to figure out where it all went wrong.

She thinks he wants a secretary. That always cracks me up. He tells her, I’m asking you to marry me. Well, you can’t blame her-your proposal sucked! A girl wants romance!

Seriously

Our heroine is so in shock she falls into a chair. She doesn’t think they should marry as she is too far beneath him. He says I guess you don’t love me, and she spills her heart out. So young, so sweet.

He asks her to pour him coffee, and that he takes it with two lumps of sugar in coffee and tea. This scene reminds me of the film The Clock. These two strangers spend the day together, marry, and then he will be shipped out the next day-and at the end she has to ask him all the little details as they realize they know zero about each other.

I love how Maxim reveals how to Mrs. Van Hopper that they are going to be married. But Mrs. Hopper is such a toad and continues to boss our heroine around, trying to keep her on “her place.” She asks to speak to our heroine alone for a few minutes, and as soon as Maxim is gone she berates our heroine and acts like she is a floozy.

Ugh! Really!

She continues to berate her that she can’t be the mistress of Manderly and she’ll fail as she is no lady. She continues going on saying things like Maxim doesn’t love her, he went crazy after his wife died, and it still looks like he is. This lady!

The two marry in a small ceremony at the courthouse and Maxim is a much different person. Lighter, happy, in love-bright and shining just as our heroine.

So cute!!

They are so cute! But Hitchcock fans all know-it won’t last..

They have their honeymoon and go to Manderly, the place from the beginning. As they head in our heroine has a shiver. All seems bright, but that shiver and the rain-are major clues that unhappiness and coldness lie ahead.

Horrifying!

They arrive and our heroine meets the household and Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) the housekeeper from Hell. She is such a creep! Our heroine is so nervous and shy and no match for Mrs. Danvers who acts as if she is the wife and our heroine is a servant.

And one is Mrs. Danvers

Maxim had them moved to the East Wing, not the West where he used to live with Rebecca. Our heroine is so nice and tries to work things out with Mrs. Danvers, but she’s a cold stone hearted woman. Ugh.

This house is so beautiful, but so empty, cold and creepy. Our heroine goes to check out the West Wing where he lived with Rebecca but it is locked and forbidden.

Whenever I watch this film it reminds me of The Tomb of Ligeia, with the creepy dead wife, handsome husband who has been all alone in a creepy house. Thinking of that also makes me think of Jane Eyre. Geez-classic English literature is full of handsome rich men with creepy first wives.

The next day our heroine meets Crawley the manager of the estates. Maxim and Crawley leave her to go about their business and casually drops that his sister and husband are coming to visit. With that news our heroine is lost and nervous as what to do-like a child almost. Like DUDE!!!!!

This is how I always imagined Cinderella or other characters that marry someone super wealthy must feel like the next day when they are like this is not at all what I’m used to. I typically am serving others how do I get used to being served?

She’s lost and confused in the house and everyone is looking down on her as she knows nothing while the first Mrs. de Winter was such a lady.

Mrs. Danvers comes to get her approval on lunches, but even though she is asking, the power is all in Mrs. Danvers. She looms over her like she could squash her.

Our heroine is in the morning room to write letters, but she has no one to write to. She looks through Rebecca’s address book and finds addresses for a marquis, a viscount, etc. Another proof of her inadequacy.

She overhears Beatrice, Maxim’s sister, talking about her. Beatrice tells it straight. She lets her know that Mrs. Danvers adored Rebecca too and will probably treat her horrid at first. Ouch, all loved Rebecca.

YEEEEES!!!!!!

At dinner the brother-in-law asks lots of questions and is disappointed as our herione doesn’t ride, doesn’t dance, doesn’t sail and isn’t at all like Rebecca. Beatrice makes her feel even more insecure about her hair, her clothes, etc.

Not at all like Rebecca at all. Not sophisticated, not elegant, not fashionable

So everyone hints about what happened to Rebecca, but no one has said the whole thing! My curiosity is going crazy!!

They go out walking with the dog and he wants to go to the cove, but Maxim doesn’t want to. That’s where her boat was held. Maxim doesn’t like to go near her boat. But our heroine follows the dog and finds a cottage with a creepy sailor. The cottage is eerie too, it causes our heroine to go into shock seeing it.

She manages to tie up the dog and tries to look for Maxim who is waiting at the top. He’s upset and angry. But why? What is he upset about?

He doesn’t want her to go in the cottage or go near it. She needs to stay away as it too is forbidden! Maxim regrets coming back to Manderly and he is right, he should have stayed far away.

Our heroine starts to cry and Maxim’s storm passes. He apologizes but it was at this moment I started to think there was more to this story. He doesn’t act like a man who loved his wife and was despondent over her death-in fact he seems angry. But not like despondent over her angry at her death.

Hmmm…

Our heroine has so many questions, but Maxim doesn’t want to talk. She helps Crawley with getting some work done and starts probing for answers. Why is the cottage going to squat? Why are Rebecca’s things in there? What happened to her?

Hmm…

Crawley answers that she went sailing and the boat capsized and she drowned. They found her body when it surfaced. Crawley is extremely upset, was he in love with her?

Our heroine apologizes but she needs to know. She needs to know what happened and who she is being constantly compared to.

Crawley tries to reassure her, but no dice. She already was a shy, insecure girl and this has made it much, much worse.

Our heroine tries to be more like Rebecca by buying a black elegant dress and putting her hair up, but Maxim laughs. Seriously! Dude!

They watch their honeymoon film and they were so cute. So happy! But they are interrupted when the Butler addresses Maxim about a household issue. A servant is accused of stealing a china figure that our heroine broke and hid. Maxim is such a man and does not read what the subtext is, and who is the real mistress of the house. He makes her tell Mrs. Danvers. She is so scared of everyone looking down on her. He thinks she should just be mistress if the house, he clearly does not get it.

One of the best scenes is when they are watching the honeymoon film in the dark and the shadows make him see almost crazed and scary-we can only see half of his face.

It reminds me of that whole thing when you only see half a face-one looks evil one looks nice.

But the lights flick on and whatever we saw on his face in the dark is gone. It is just the handsome Maxim. He starts to wonder if they should be together, if he isn’t ruining her life bringing her to Manderly and all its gothic air and soul crushing.

Our poor heroine, she thinks she is at fault, but she doesn’t know where the real trouble lies. There is a dark cloud in Maxim-dark and depressed perfectly contrasted with the bright happy self on the film.

The next day Maxim leaves for London. No you fool don’t leave her alone with Mrs Danvers the maid from hell who hates her!!!!!!!!!

She’s lonely without Maxim, but as she looks out the window she sees a light on the West Wing! But no one uses it…ghost????

Ahhh!

She starts to head over there but is interrupted when she hears Mrs. Danvers speaking to a gentleman with a amazing voice- it’s Shere Khan, I mean Mr. Jack Favell (George Sands). Mrs. Danvers is sneaking him in, why?

Hmmm

He is smarmy and sarcastic, making our heroine nervous and skittish.  Why is he here? Not for anything good.

He leaves and asks our heroine to not mention him to Maxim. As he leaves he leaves a parting shot that he was Rebecca’s favorite cousin. Why did he come? What are he and Mrs. Danvers planning?

What’s going on?

I just love these camera angles of this giant house dwarfing our heroine. She looks so small and insignificant.

So like Catherine Morland and Belle from Beauty and the Beast she can no longer resist the forbidden wing! She must go in and look at “the room.” It is still in perfect tiptop shape. No dust, nothing out of place as if she stepped away and will be back any moment to take her rightful place. Very Psycho!

 

Mrs. Danvers interrupts our heroine and is downright cold and cruel showing off how great Rebecca was, her fancy fashionable clothes, her stylish and elegant ways, Lording over our heroine making her feel like crap, like a bug to be squashed. Trying to show how Maxim will never love our heroine.

OUCH, ouch ouch. Some women physically fight, most women fight this way with words and emotions. Every time I see this the scene it is just dreadful to watch, so painful, so hurtful. It’s not like other films-but horrible how each item, each moment in the room cuts our heroine stabbing her psychologically and emotionally. Every word a poisonous arrow full of toxins. Rebecca’s ghost her-soul lives in that house tormenting our heroine.

Mrs. Danvers starts talking about the sea air and I’m totally convinced she’s trying to hypnotize our heroine to kill herself. No doubt.

Our poor heroine is having like a complete breakdown, Rs everywhere, everything Rebecca.

Going mad!

But our heroine has a little but of gumption in her. She orders Mrs. Danvers to get rid of all these things. When Mrs. Danvers questions her, she staunchly tells her I Am Mrs. de Winter–I love it! You go our heroine.

Maxim comes home and she throws herself at him so happy he is home. She wants to throw the annual costume ball to prove to everyone that she can be Mrs. de Winter.

She wants to have a stunning costume to out-Rebecca Rebecca. Mrs. Danvers suggests that she look at her family portraits. Ugh I hate this!!! Why would you trust her???? Mrs. Danvers points out a woman’s portrait and our heroine runs with it. To be honest, I always skip this part as I can’t handle her humiliation. It’s too painful.

I can’t look.

Well things go as expected, it turns out it was a portrait of Rebecca that she copied for her costume.

The night is cut short when a ship runs aground the sand. Everyone wants to help, our heroine getting changed and running out after Maxim

She searches for Maxim and finds Crawley who gives shocking news. A diver going after the ship found another one-Rebecca’s boat! Oh no, any shred of happiness will be lost with the grief that is to come. Or is there to be grief? I’m not convinced.

Hmmm?

Our heroine feels drawn to the cottage and finds Maxim hiding there. She thinks Maxim will hate her, but he’s not even thinking about the ball-it feels like years ago since the discovery of the boat.

Our heroine thinks it’s her, that any happiness of marriage is over. He tells her it is too late for them. They have lost their chance of happiness now! The thing he dreaded has happened!

What thing? Rebecca has won? What, what do you mean!!! What are you saying??!!!

Tell ME!!!!!

Maxim then reveals that he knew the boat was down there. Not only that, but knew that her body was in the boat.

The woman buried in the family crypt was not Rebecca. He identified it but knew it wasn’t Rebecca.

What??? How do you know??

Because he put her there- OMGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD

First time I watched this I was in shock. I suspected not everything was happy, sunshine rainbows between them?!! But he killed her?

Is it wrong that I still like him?

Our heroine tells her that she loves him and it doesn’t matter.  She tells him how insecure she was and how she felt every time he compared her to Rebecca and she was always wanting.

But then he drops the biggest bomb ever!!!!

He NEVER LOVEd REBECCA!!!!!!???

I’m sorry, but what????

HE HATED HER! She was beautiful and enchanting. They married-she seemed perfect and accomplished. She had breeding, brains, and beauty. But then after the wedding he discovered she neither loved him, cared about him, wasn’t moral or faithful, etc. On their honeymoon he discovered the beast he married. I know what that is like…that described my own marriage.

She played the part so well, he would look the fool to divorce her-I know how that feels too. Thank goodness I got over that. Poor guy-he should have gotten an annulment.

Rebecca got involved with many people and hurt many, bring them to her flat in London and cottage by the sea. She spent a ton of time with Favell. Those two are “just” cousins?

One night he was done and went to talk to Rebecca. She looked ill, and told him basically that she was pregnant but it wasn’t his child. They were never together and he would never have a child. Her kid with another man would inherit his home and money and grow and continue the de Winter line. She continued to pick at him and he struck her. She smiled, tripped, and fell knocking herself out. She died.

He didn’t kill her but was afraid no one would believe him and then decided to sink the boat with her body.

Soooooooo even though he shares all that I believe him and feel for him. Especially as I know exactly what that is like.

Horrifying!

Maxim is out of it-but our heroine has grown up, She takes control of the situation and supports him and encourages him.

Like I know what he did was bad but I really like him and our heroine and I want them to be together. Is that bad? He’s not really a hero.

Events go into motion and they make Maxim ID the body and question about the other one. No one is upset over it, it happens all the time where the grieving mistake especially a body that has been in the water. Unfortunately there will be another inquest-ugh.

No one thinks any foul play really happened, it is just routine.

Now that we have had this ordeal, our heroine has grown-the youth and innocence is gone- and we have a powerful character who looks to have aged in the last scene, and is in command of herself, powerful, not taking gruff or slight from any servant or person.

Our heroine goes to Maxim to try and get him to control his temper and not fly off the handle at the inquest. She knows they can overcome anything together. Aw, they are so cute together!!! Melodramatic, brooding, adoring, etc. I really like Maxim, and this couple.

They kiss in front of the fire, the flame of their love growing stronger.

So cute!!

Everything is going well at the inquest until the first thing to cause trouble is when the boatyard man inspected the boat and discovered the holes that caused the flooding were made from the inside of the boat. The death was no accident! It was suicide…or Murder!

Mr. de Winter is then to be questioned. He answers sarcastically ad angry-not making friends with the court. He gets badgered and starts losing it, when our heroine faints and stops the proceedings. She’s getting to be cunning! I like her more and more.

Wow!

They head to the car to have lunch. Aw, I love how Maxim cares for her. Ugh lunch is interrupted by Jack Favell. He and Maxim can’t stand each other and the tension is thick. He steals some of their food and tries to blackmail them.

Bad luck is never ending!

I can’t stand him (although I love his voice and how he pronounces words) Favell reveals that he received a note from Rebecca that will tip the balance from suicide to murder. He tells them he will destroy the letter and drop it all for payment.

Maxim leaves to the nearby inn, getting a private room, so they can talk business. He calls Colonel Julian, in charge of the inquest, and asks him to join them as well. He reveals the blackmailing scheme to the Colonel. They read the letter to Favell, that he and Rebecca were to meet, but the note doesn’t really tip it either way.

She mentions going to the doctor and she had an important thing to tell him. That could be bad or good news. Favell insults our heroine and Maxim gives him a great big wallop. YES!!!

The Colonel questions what is the motive for murder? If Maxim killed her? Favell calls Mrs. Danvers to reveal the motive.

She refuses as she wants to protect Rebecca’s reputation, but when she hears that Maxim might have killed her she reveals the doctor’s name. Favell insists that Rebecca was going to have his child, and that Maxim killed her over it.

What?

Favell leaves, not caring what destruction, embarrassment, hurt, or pain he causes in his path. Our heroine returns home, while maxim stays to hear the end. They go to find the Dr, Dr. Baker and question him. So was she pregnant?!!!

There was no Mrs de Winter he met with. It turns out she used an assumed name. Mr. Baker reveals that the problem for Mrs. de Winter was that she had cancer. Nothing could be done for her but death.

She LIED! No pregnancy! She did that on purpose!!!! She wanted to upset Mr. de Winter! She wanted him to kill her. She was a truly horrible person and I’m glad she is dead.

What a horrible, horrid person.

Favell calls Danvers and tells her what happened.

That’s not good.

Crawly and Maxim drive home, with Maxim speeding like a maniac. Something doesn’t feel right! Something is wrong! But what?!!!

Back at the house our heroine is waiting up for Maxim, but eventually succumbs to sleep. Mrs. Danvers skulks around like the demon she is.

That’s not good.

As they drive up they notice the sky is lit! But it is too early-OMG a FIRE!!!!! Manderly is on fire!!!!!!!

 

But our heroine?!!! What about her? She’s okay.

No need to guess who did it-Mrs. Danvers the housekeeper from Hell.

Worst housekeepers ever: Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca, Milly from Under Capricornand Nancy Oliver from Gaslight.

Anyone else I should add?

We then fade out to the embroidered pillow R burning too. Finally the demon is gone. Rebecca has been destroyed, our characters can find happiness. If you really think about it, that’s some Winchester stuff right there.

So that end another Horrorfest!!! I hope you all enjoyed it!

I hope you all have a fantastic and safe Halloween!

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