Login | Register

Rebecca (1940)

NOTE: This commentary is only available on releases from the Criterion Collection (both DVD and laserdisc).

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Film scholar Leonard J. Leff, author of "Hitchcock and Selznick: The Rich and Strange Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and David O. Selznick in Hollywood" Rating:7.6/10 (7 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Brian Thibodeau on June 30th, 2004:Find all reviews by Brian Thibodeau
Rebecca is a film of "twos" explains Leff in this commentary recorded in 1990 for the Criterion laserdisc of this film: two Mrs. De Winters, two deaths, two inquests, two Rebeccas, two evil stepmothers (Mrs. Hopper/Mrs. Danvers). Though his presentation is a little too reverential, bordering on pretentious twaddle that would make even Olivier's Maxim De Winter cringe, (like too many such LD tracks from this period) Leff does offer up some useful backgrounder on the film, including Hitchcock quotes taken from period interviews and from discussions with Francois Truffault. The back and forth conflict between Hitchcock, whose first American film this was, and producer David O. Selznick is quite well covered, and mention is made of the early rift between American actress Joan Fontaine and her Brisitsh co-stars. Nonetheless, when Leff launches into near-whispered delicacies like "Rebecca resembles a beautiful sweater with a small loose thread. One pull and the whole could unravel," you might wanna pound him for floridly overstating the obvious. And much of his hushed, monotonous pointing out of themes amounts to little more than "reading," and thus narrating, the film: "Notice the reaction..." and "Notice the tension..." and on and on...

Leff is also quick to point out HItch's lack of concern for the quality of special effects in his films, but then proceeds throughout to point out many of the films sloppy process shots and compositing errors.

In fact, many of this commentaries best points are better dissected in the text pages included in the supplements, making them a better starting point for those interested in learning about the film's production without having to listen to Leff's scholarly awe.