Rebecca may not be one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most infamous films, but it is arguably one of the more important ones in his long career. It was his first American film, and his work earned him the first of six Oscar nominations for Best Director. He didn’t win, though. In fact, it is still unfathomable that the man many consider to be one of the greatest directors of all time never won an directorial Oscar himself.
The movie itself won the 1940 Best Picture Oscar, the only one of Hitch’s 50+ films to do so. Did it deserve such an award? Arguably not, since both The Philadelphia Story and The Grapes of Wrath, released the same year, were far better pictures. Still, the movie is somewhat of a milestone. Without its critical accolades, who knows if Hitch would have been given the opportunity to helm such later classics as Notorious, north by Northwest, Vertigo or Psycho?
The movie itself isn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s extremely enjoyable and worth multiple viewings, especially for Hitchcock fans. This story of a newlywed woman being haunted by her obsessive husband’s previous wife is a good one, and definitely worthy of the Hitchcock treatment. I just don’t think it ranks right up there with his greatest achievements. Then again, I still champion Rope as his best film, a movie hardly anyone seems to appreciate as much as I do.
Commentary by critic Richard Schickel
Music & effects track
The Gothic World of Daphne Du Maurier
Making of Rebecca