Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca

The Dastardly Past:  Rebecca (1940)

rebeccaOn April 12, 1940, David O. Selznick Productions released Rebecca, based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier.  Alfred Hitchcock directed this, his first American production and the only one of his films to win an Oscar for best picture.  David O. Selznick had purchased the rights to the novel in 1938 for $50,000, but had difficulty casting the film.  His first choice for Maxim de Winter was Ronald Colman, who refused the part.  Selznick next considered William Powell and Laurence Olivier.  Olivier came cheaper than Powell by $100,000 and so won the role.  Joan Fontaine was one of several actresses, including Margaret Sullavan and Anne Baxter, considered for the part of the second Mrs. De Winter.  The best bit of casting did not involve the leads, however.  Dame Judith Anderson as the menacing housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, outshone the principals and redefined malevolence.  The movie, like Anderson’s performance, remains a classic.

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On this day: writer Jack Trevor Story.

On this day:  writer Jack Trevor Story.

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On March 31, 1917, the writer Jack Trevor Story was born.  His best-known work is the black comedy The Trouble with Harry, which Alfred Hitchcock made into a popular movie with Shirley MacLaine.  Hitchcock paid $500 for the movie rights yet, despite the movie’s success, refused to augment the original sum.  Story continued to write short stories, screenplays, and novels with mixed success.  He passed away in 1991 of a heart attack.