Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Movie: Rebecca (the 1997 BBC version)
Like/Don't Like: Don't Like, even though I wanted to.

A few years ago I was at Acres of Books (I think it may have been the all public transportation adventure trip where we took the blue-line out to Long Beach. Here’s something fun to do…take a train through south central LA. You will be thrilled with the number of people you see with boomboxes to their ears. Like they're in Breakin’ II-- Electric Boogaloo.) I found an old copy of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier there and bought it because it seemed like the appropriate thing to do. I ended up reading it on a very cold winter day last year while snuggled up in a blanket. It was possibly the greatest time I’ve ever had reading a book. Why? Because it’s simply marvelous. And I say simply marvelous because that’s exactly what they would say in the book. Only it would be “It’s simply marvelous, darling.” Reading Rebecca made me wish I were the type of person who could get away with saying darling, preferably in a posh British accent.

It’s such a delicious book. All full of dressing for dinner and hosting fancy dress balls and trips to Monte Carlo and servants and great estates and intrigue and “darling this” and “darling that”. And it’s dark and kind of spooky and mysterious. And it’s just the right amount of over-the-top-ness. I loved reading this book.

But, this is not a book review. It’s a movie review. And not the 1940 Hitchcock movie, which is fabulous, but the 1997 BBC version which is not so much.

Two reasons why:

1.) I think I probably would have liked it more if I hadn’t read the book and seen the Hitchcock, who was born to make it into a film, with Lawrence Olivier, who was born to say darling. This one just didn’t capture the creepiness and excess of it all. It was too sunshiny. And Mrs. Danvers, the evil housekeeper, was more pathetic than scheming. It was kind of lacking.

2.) I know that Maxim deWinter is suppose to be old enough to be his new bride’s father but did he have to look like it? According to imdb the actors who played Maxim (Charles Dance) and The Second Mrs. deWinter (the girl who played Georgianna in the A&E Pride and Prejudice) are 28 years apart but she actually looked like she could be his granddaughter. It was kind of skeevy. Plus, he was COVERED in freckles. And while I have a soft spot in my heart for men with freckles, and think that in most cases it makes people look cute and youthful like wee little scamps, his mask of them made him look like he was 80 and covered in age spots. Tragic!

I’ll give it a plus for staying true to the story and the costumes were wonderful, but you would do better watching Lawrence Olivier say, “Darling, be a good girl and go dress for dinner.”

1 comment:

Andrea said...

I totally agree. Rebecca is one of my all time favorite books and I love the Hitchcock version. I saw the newer version a few years ago and didn't care for it. It was kind of like watching the BBC version of Emma and thinking, "I much prefer the Gwenyth Paltrow version."