‘ Last night I dream’t I went to Manderley again’ is the famous first line of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel ‘Rebecca’ … and the first line in the 1940 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. This spooky love story is one of my favourite classic films. A young woman ( Joan Fontaine) falls for the charming Maxim De Winter ( Olivier), while’st working as a paid companion to a rather snobby lady holidaying in Europe. After a whirlwind courtship they marry and he takes her back to his family home in Cornwall , the sprawling gothic manor, Manderley.
Getting used to married life and helping run a large estate is hindered by the domineering presence of the housekeeper Mrs Danvers. She favors Maxims first wife, the bewitchingly beautiful Rebecca, who died in mysterious circumstances. Mrs Danvers does everything she can to make the new lady of the manor ( we never find out her name strangely) feel gauche and inferior in comparison.
With Manderley full of memories and maybe even ghosts of the deceased Rebecca and Maxim distracted by some dreadful secret, our heroine certainly has a tough time of it. Hitchcock, a master of suspense as always will keep you gripped and enthralled until the firer’y finale.
Do you have a favourite Hitchcock film?