Rebecca, a review by Jon
5 out of 5
”Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderlay again.”
Rebecca is the story of a young girl (Joan Fontaine) who marries Maxim de Winter (Lawrence Olivier) after a whirlwind romance, but is unsuited to the role of mistress in the imposing Manderlay, especially dealing with the stern maid, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), and a husband still haunted by his first wife’s terrible death.
This, the most un-Hitchcock of Hitchcock films, was a Best Picture winner in a difficult year, coming out against The Grapes of Wrath, Hitch’s own Foreign Correspondent and The Philadelphia Story. The last in particular would have been as worthy a winner, but at least James Stewart got a deserved nod for his role.
As it is Rebecca is an excellent film and I have no issue with its quality. It is elegant, powerful and memorable, one of the very best suspense dramas ever made. But its production was troubled and just who was responsible for the end product very confusing! There’s little in the aesthetics that immediately mark it as a “Hitchcock Film”, but the story is thematically suited to him; jealousy, guilt, mysterious past, deaths and cruelty. And he’d used Daphne Du Maurier’s work before in Jamaica Inn and would again in The Birds. However, she hated the way he treated Jamaica Inn and here is where the problems start.
According to memos from David Selznick on the superb Criterion DVD, he had to step in to make sure Hitchcock produced a faithful script, something he had promised Du Maurier (aside from one moral concession to the Hays Office). I agree with his sentiments on how novels should be adapted (although that does result in mind-numbing, paint by numbers Gone With the Wind!), but he was essentially strangling the director who couldn’t inject any of the traits, including humour, he would become so famous for. Where I stop agreeing with Selznick is how he continued to treat Hitchcock, using spies on set and so forth. No wonder their relationship has been documented before. It’s fascinating!
Still, Hitchcock did find some room to show off, especially in the later sections and there are some extraordinary moments; the tension at a ball is unbearable and the confession scene outstanding. Such an unavoidably talky scene is made very exciting by the camera moving as if re-enacting the past. Manderlay, the building is similarly a character in its own right (not my words, as that was the intention), at once threatening and welcoming to the young bride. The pressure on her is tangible, not least from the terrifying Mrs. Danvers. Hitch makes her one of cinemas classic villains and even manages to sneak a hint of lesbianism past the Hays Office.
Without the attraction of a Hitchcock working at full power for at least the first half, we must turn to the cast and they do not disappoint. Aside from stone faced villain Judith Anderson, Lawrence Olivier is marvellous, which is no lazy complement. He’s one of the greatest actors ever, but more suited to stage and has been known to devour sets and co-stars alike! So it’s to his credit he keeps his performance in check and has a great chemistry with the timid and nervy Joan Fontaine. This is one of my favourite female roles. She’s absolutely lovely and conveys both the nervousness and later, the steel, the character needs. Other stand-outs include George Sanders who just couldn’t be any smoother or despicable. By the way, the DVD includes Hitch’s typical comments on other actresses testing for Fontaine’s part. ”More suited to the part of Rebecca…”, I think one said. Bear in mind we never see Rebecca!
Essentially this is a ghost story, except Du Maurier’s wonderful story and Hitchcock’s brilliant staging generates a haunting without an actual spirit. Don’t watch it as an early example from one of cinemas greatest directors, but as one of the best adaptations of book to film, an exemplary display of screen acting, and as the immensely satisfying drama it is.
(From Jon's Best Picture Oscar Marathon on February 7th, 2009)
Green Lantern: First Flight , a review by Tom
Christopher Meloni as Hal Jordan / Green Lantern
Victor Garber as Sinestro
Tricia Helfer as Boodikka
Michael Madsen as Kilowog
John Larroquette as Tomar Re
When pilot Hal Jordan accepts a mysterious, powerful ring from a dying alien creature, it transforms him into a Green Lantern, one of an elite force of heroes who patrol the universe to ensure peace and justice under the leadership of the Guardians of the Universe. Unsure of their newest recruit, the Guardians assign Hal to their most-honoured Green Lantern Sinestro for training, unaware that Sinestro wants to overthrow the Guardians and create a new order he'll control. It's a battle of might and willpower as Hal must prove his worth by defeating Sinestro to save the Green Lantern Corps.
Voiced by a stellar cast including Christopher Meloni, Victor Garber, Tricia Helfer and Michael Madsen, this DC Universe original animated adventure bursts with action-packed shakedowns, showdowns and spectacular visuals as Green Lantern uses his powers and imagination to make the impossible real!
My Thoughts:I haven't had much contact with Green Lantern yet. I recently saw the new movie. While not great, I enjoyed myself.
This animated movie is similar in a way. Though I like the bad guy a lot better. In the live-action version they have saved him for a sequel.
I was a little disappointed, that this movie almost exclusivley is set in space. Green Lantern isn't seen back on Earth after he left for his training.
(From Tom's Random Reviews on August 13th, 2011)
[Rerun Marathon] Spaced, a review by Tom
This is the first time I'll watch this series since Shaun of the Dead was released. I saw it two years before that and it was the reason, I went to see Shaun of the Dead in the theater.
Even after the great Shaun of the Dead this series still holds up. It's even funnier than I remember it. Also great camera/editing work. And also great visual gags (like the Velma and Shaggy scene ).
(From [Rerun Marathon] Spaced on October 20th, 2007)