Rebecca: The Christian Hipster’s Summer Guide to Hitchcock

What are Christian Hipsters watching this summer? Hitchcock.  Well, let’s face it, Christian Hipsters are always watching Hitchcock.  Let’s start the summer with Hitch’s first film made in America:


Rebecca (1940). Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Produced by David O. Selznick. Starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.

Why Hipsters like this movie:

  • It was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

They don’t really need another reason, but just in case:

  • It was Hitch’s first Hollywood film.

    Hitch and Fontaine on the set.

    Hitch and Fontaine on the set.

David O. Selznick, the guy who produced Gone With The Wind, brought Hitch over to make a film called Titanic (he even bought a junk ocean liner for Hitch to use, but the film never got made) and the two auteurs battled it out in their first and only collaboration. Incidentally, Selznick won his second Oscar when Rebecca became the Academy’s best motion picture of 1940 (GWTW had won the year before). Hitch never got a statuette, but had a much longer and more successful career.  Selznick’s two most notable films are about women who are slightly crazy, in love with men sporting pencil mustaches, and obsessed with beautiful houses that go to ruin. Creepy wierd. Like a Hitchcock film…

  • It’s creepy and weird, like a Hitchcock film.

Themes of identity crisis, murder, haunting personalities, overbearing personalities, the aristocracy, and gothic mansions permeate Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, and the film. Hitch never literally adapted films but thought source books made “an occasion for the movie.”

Things Hipsters will do after watching this movie:

  • Debate the symbolism of “never going back to Manderley again.”
  • Start wearing a Laurence Olivier de Winter-inspired mustache.
  • Start wearing a Mrs. Van Hopper (Florence Bates)-inspired pince nez spectacles.
  • Start wearing anything from Joan Fontaine’s wardrobe (except the masquerade gown, because, really? Nope).
  • Have debates about whether Fontaine is blonde enough to be a Hitch leading lady.
  • Go on dates where they wear vintage clothing and talk about Monte Carlo and houses by the sea with breathy continental accents.

Things Hipsters should look for while watching this movie:

  • The most admittedly ridiculous marriage proposal ever. “Which would you prefer, New York or Manderley….I’m asking you to marry me you fool.” Now let’s have some breakfast while the crazy lady waits in the car. Did anyone really think this marriage was starting out well? It’s like something out of a gothic novel…
  • Olivier’s delivery of the flashback monologue. Acting 101. Also, the way the camera “becomes” Rebecca during the monologue.

Things Hipsters will learn  to beware of after watching this movie:

  • The former wife’s initials embroidered on everything …
  • Sad spaniels.
  • Suspicious housekeepers (Mrs Danvers is played to a

    Stay strong, Joan.

    chilling turn by Judith Anderson) talking suicide and carrying lit candlesticks.

  • Sisters -in -law with good intentions but poor choices in masquerade outfits.
  • The west wing.
  • The picture Mrs. Danvers shows you in the gallery.


    Copying the first wife? Never a good idea.

  • Cobwebby cottages in coves.
  • Any George Sanders character. Ever.

Bests for Hipster’s to note:

  • Best line to sort out other hipster cinephiles from mainstream movie lovers:

“Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again.”

  • Best line to use as a pickup:

“I have a very impressive array of first names. George Fortescue Maximilian. You needn’t bother with them all at once. My family called me Maxim. And another thing, please promise me never to wear black satin or pearls, or to be 36 years old.”

  • Best British dental advice:

“How are you Robert? Still having trouble with your teeth? You should have them out. All of them. Wretched nuisances, teeth.”

  • The stunning George Barnes cinematography style.
    Patterns and shadows.

    Patterns and shadows.

    Still more patterns and shadows.

    Patterns and shadows.

    More patterns and shadows.

    More patterns and shadows.

    Patterns, fog, smoke, and shadows everywhere.  Hmmm, themey….(“Her shadow has been between us all the time.” Hint. Hint. Hint.)( This hipster’s fav shot btw: rain streaming down the windowpane, reflected in the face of the ticking clock by lightning.  Yowzer!)

  • Best meta moment:

Maxim and the new Mrs. de Winter (Fontaine’s character is never given a first name…also themey…) fight while watching film from their honeymoon trip. They were happy once, in the movies…

  •  Best line that is a commentary on that moment:

“Do you think the dead come back and watch the living?”

  • Next best self-referential line:

“I’ve read enough detective stories to know there must always be a motive.”   True dat. It probably has something to do with the overbearing chick who is such a presence that the story is named after her and she haunts the whole dang movie but she never appears on screen.

Hitchcock Trivia that Hipsters are really reading this post to find:

  • Hitch would find a reason to stop filming when Selznick would visit the set. Since the latter was busy finishing his epic of the old South, this was made a bit easier.
  • Hitch and Selznick probably made each other better because of their differences.
  • Hitch nixed Selznick’s idea to have the smoke from the burning Manderley form an “R” in the sky as the ending shot of the film. Good call.
  • Fontaine was cast over Olivia de Havilland–her sister and Hollywood rival. Fontaine was the younger sister, and found Hollywood success later, but didn’t need Errol Flynn’s help.
  • This is one of three Hitch films adapted from Du Maurier novels. The other two are The Birds and Jamaica Inn.

About jenletherer

BA, Theater and Speech Communication; English:Creative Writing. Siena Heights University, 2002. MFA, Film Production. Boston University, 2005
This entry was posted in Hipster's Guide and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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