Wednesday, 25 March 2009


1940 - Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 28th March, 2009
In 1939 Alfred Hitchcock made what may be thought of as an opportune move to the United States to start a contract with Selznick international. His first job was supposed to be on a film about the sinking of the Titanic - but things changed. Hitchcock had considered producing “Rebecca” at Elstree Studios as a follow up to “The Lady Vanishes”. The asking price for the story was too high and Hitch abandoned the idea. The producer (and Hitch’s new boss) David O Selznick then bought the rights and gave the project a budget far in excess of anything the British Studios could have mustered - and assigned Hitchcock to direct it. Both men were larger than life characters and disagreed with each other on almost every aspect of the film. Shooting started just as war was declared in Europe and the largely British cast and crew struggled to concentrate. At the end of the filming schedule Selznick tried to take the film over but was frustrated by the fact that Hitch had only shot exactly what he needed - there was no way of altering any of the scenes. Both expressed their unhappiness at the final result... but all animosity dissolved when Rebecca pulled in vast audiences and an Oscar for Best Picture.
· Rebecca was shot almost entirely in the studio on 44 specially built sets. Shooting was delayed because they had to wait for “Gone with the Wind” to vacate the only sound stage big enough to accommodate the scenery.
· Although Selznick wanted to be faithful to the novel, the censors demanded that Max could not kill his wife without paying the penalty. Suicide was also frowned upon. After a hard-fought but futile battle, Selznick had to settle for Rebecca being accidentally killed.
· Vivien Leigh wanted the lead in Rebecca and, as she was enjoying an affair with Olivier, thought she would get it. She made her displeasure very clear when Olivia de Haviland’s lesser known sister (Joan Fontaine) got the part.

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