"This time Hitchcock does it all his way, does a splendid job and has a splendid cast to do it with."
-TIME MAGAZINE, 1940
"Hitch has it!"
-THE NEW YORK TIMES, 1940
"REBECCA is an artistic success whose box office lure will be limited... Dave Selznick’s picture is too tragic and deeply psychological to hit the fancy of wide audience appeal."
The QUEER FEAR series begins with Alfred Hitchcock's first American film REBECCA, produced by Hollywood mega producer David O. Selznick and adapted from Daphne du Maurier's gothic novel. The film finds Joan Fontaine as an insecure young woman who becomes the second Mrs. de Winter. Defined by (but unsure of) her new role, she finds herself living in the shadow of the former Mrs. de Winter: Rebecca. Constantly reminded of her predecessor by her moody and distant husband, played by Laurence Olivier, and the stern housemaid Mrs Danvers, played epically by Judith Anderson, the second Mrs. de Winter is on the verge of an identity crisis.
Rebecca, long gone, still exerts a strange power over the house and the people inhabiting it. She is a representation of the monstrous feminine that defies definition and restraint. The film's queerness oozes out in both Mrs. Danver's affection for her former mistress, the haunting connection between the Mrs. de Winters, and the way in which Hitchcock mercilessly challenges the institution of marriage.
Not to be missed, the erotic tension between Mrs. Danvers and the second Mrs. de Winter exudes a dom-sub relationship fueled by sadism and masochism. The film is an elegiac and elegantly composed supernatural psychodrama that went on to win Best Picture and Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards in 1941 as well as nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Special Effect, Best Original Score, Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress.
After the film, mother and daughter of the House of Gaynz, Miss Toto and FKA Twink, will reinterpret the psychosexual drama of the film through drag.
REBECCA is part of the QUEER FEAR: FOUR BY HITCHCOCK series this October at the Bill Cosford Cinema. Other films include ROPE (1948) on October 14, STAGE FRIGHT (1950) on October 21 and PSYCHO (1960) on October 28. All screenings are at 8PM, free, and open to the public.
Flaming Classics is made possible by the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the City of Coral Gables, Coral Gables Community Foundation, the Florida Humanities Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Norton Herrick Center for Motion Picture Studies, and patrons of the series.