This year, we celebrate two milestones from the same film director.
Eighty years ago, an English film director released his first American film. He won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and he would go on to change the language of film forever.
That director was “The Master of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock, and that film was 1940’s Rebecca — an adaptation of Dame Daphne du Maurier’s novel. (Du Maurier would provide inspiration for Hitchcock time and again with Jamaica Inn and The Birds.)
Rebecca stars Laurence Olivier as widower Maxim de Winter, Joan Fontaine as his second wife Mrs. de Winter, and Judith Anderson as the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. The film revolves around the mystery of what happened to the original Mrs. de Winter (the Rebecca of the title) and the web of people who think they know what happened and to what extents they will go to expose the “truth”. Rebecca’s dead body resurfaces and everything is thrown into chaos.
It features a theme that will resurface in so many of Hitchcock’s other works: the dynamics between sex, power, and violence. Reforming your identity to suit those who have power. The insidiousness and manipulations of those who have power… even when that person is technically dead.
Rebecca won best picture at the Academy Awards.
Then, sixty years ago, Hitchcock would release a film that would redefine horror. The film was based on the notorious real life case of Ed Gein. Also, like Rebecca, it was about a person who lived a dual identity and who took orders from a power that existed beyond the grave.
Paramount balked at Hitchcock’s budget, so he resorted to filming the movie using his crew from his Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series. The resulting film, Psycho, would break box office records all over the world.
To peruse Hitchcock’s filmography is to see a list of the greatest and most influential suspense films of all time: The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Rear Window, Vertigo, North by Northwest, The Birds…
Today’s prompt: What is your favorite film by Alfred Hitchcock?