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YMMV / Rebecca

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Maxim a villain, hero or anti-hero? Is everything Maxim says about Rebecca true? Do Maxim and the Second Mrs de Winter get a happy ending or not? It's possible that Rebecca was a normal and admirable woman, that Maxim was a tyrant who killed her for not being submissive, that the second wife swallowed his story because it proved he didn't love Rebecca after all, and that Mrs. Danvers was enraged because he got away with the murder of her friend and employer. Maybe Maxim killed his second wife as well after she wrote her memoirs. All open to interpretation. The fact that she was cheating on Maxim with Favell shows that she wasn't a faithful wife at least.
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    • A minor one regarding Mrs Danvers's trick on the heroine. Was tricking her into dressing up as Rebecca just a Kick the Dog moment as revenge for being stood up to? Was she hoping to remind Maxim of the love she thought he felt for Rebecca, further ruining the new marriage? Or was it some way for her to get to see Rebecca (or someone who resembled her) one last time?
    • The second Mrs de Winter staying with Maxim after finding out he's responsible for Rebecca's death. Does she truly love him in spite of it? Or is she realising her best chance for comfort is staying with him - since she's an orphan and has no other family to speak of?
    • There's the possibility of Rebecca being a lesbian who only married Maxim because it was expected of her - especially given her closeness to Mrs Danvers.
  • Award Snub: The film is one of the few films which won the Best Picture Oscar without the film's director also winning Best Director. Presumably this was because Alfred Hitchcock was a relative unknown in the US at the time, or because the film's producer David O. Selznick had a really outsize reputation for having a high degree of creative control over the films he produced. On Rebecca he left Hitchcock alone and wasn't as interfering, mostly because he was still fatigued over Gone with the Wind where he came to blows with the original director George Cukor and the film was finished by Victor Fleming, with parts shot by production designer William Cameron Menzies.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Plenty of people apply this treatment to Rebecca herself. While we never get confirmation what she was truly like, she was definitely having an affair with Favell. Note that the only glowing description comes from Mrs Danvers - who is hardly trustworthy.
    • Mrs Danvers herself gets this treatment. While there's definitely something sad about her grieving for a mistress she truly loved, she still bullies the heroine, sets her up to be humiliated and tries to get her to kill herself. She also burns the house down. In the book she's much older and is said to have watched over Rebecca since she was a child...which adds some creepier dimensions to her character.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Mrs. Danvers for being very mysterious, charismatic and Creepy Awesome.
  • Fanon:
    • The heroine's real name being Daphne. It was this in early drafts, and the film considered giving it to her. However there's no confirmation, except that her narration says it's uncommon and people often misspell it.
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    • The painting in the hall being of Rebecca. It actually is a painting of Maxim's ancestor, Lady Caroline, as Mrs Danvers says. The plot point is that Rebecca dressed up as her once at a costume ball.
  • Fans Prefer the New Her: Yes the costume for the ball ends up horrifying Maxim, and his poor wife is nearly Driven to Suicide over it. But that doesn't stop Joan Fontaine from looking fantastic in the dress.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Favell tried to break up Maxim and Rebecca's marriage. Fast forward to All About Eve where George Sanders (who plays Favell) expresses disgust that Eve plans to break up Karen and Lloyd's marriage. What makes this even funnier is that Anne Baxter (who would play Eve) screen tested for this film.
    • Mrs. Danvers has been played by at least two former Sisis - Pia Douwes and Ock Joo-hyun - an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette dressed all in black, haunted by a specter of death (and is a Death Seeker because of tragedy), trapped in an unhappy marriage that looked like a fairytale to outsiders, is revealed to be ill during the course of the show (cancer for Rebecca, syphilis for Elisabeth) and (eventually) doesn't reciprocate her husband's love. Franz Joseph, however, never fell out of love with Elisabeth.
  • Hollywood Homely: Subverted in the film version. Mrs Danvers, Mrs Van Hopper and Favell all call the heroine plain and act as if she's deformed. She's played by Hollywood beauty Joan Fontaine. But this is used to show that the characters are nasty and it's made clear that Maxim finds his new wife beautiful. Likewise, the majority of plain comments come from Mrs Danvers - and she's comparing her to Rebecca, with whom she was deeply in love. Beatrice even seems to find her pretty. Overall it seems to be that she has a natural beauty but she's not glamorous enough to meet the high standards of the upper class.
  • It Was His Sled: The twist that Maxim actually hated Rebecca is far more well known these days. With the Alpha Bitch trope becoming commonplace, modern viewers can pick up on the way other characters describe her.
  • Les Yay:
    • Implied (much more heavily in the book) to be a major component of Mrs. Danvers' devotion to Rebecca.
    • Depending on the staging, Mrs. Danvers tends to have a rather sensual manner towards Mrs. de Winter during the song "Rebecca" and its reprise, with far more touching than necessary or appropriate. In the latter's case, it even becomes suggestive of sexual assault in certain versions, as Mrs. de Winter is only half dressed in her nightgown, and certain versions, the Hungarian for example, have Mrs. Danvers back her onto Rebecca's bed.
    • In the film, Mrs. Danvers also encourages the new de Winter to feel the old de Winter's underwear, obviously testing her reaction to see if she, too, is attracted to it.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Rebecca given that almost everyone loved her, despite treating her husband like garbage. Even in death she still looms over everyone in the cast, showing the effect she had on people. In a much straighter example, she manipulated Maxim into killing her.
  • Narm: For some, there's the inherent Mood Whiplash in the reveal that Maxim killed Rebecca. The heroine is more delighted to discover that he hated the woman, because it means he loves her. It's a little better in the film, where Rebecca's death was accidental.
  • Rewatch Bonus: On the second watch, you can see subtle hints - especially from Beatrice - that Rebecca wasn't as perfect as everyone says.
  • Ron the Death Eater: Maxim tends to get a raw deal from a lot of people who imagine him as a maniacal serial killer. He did kill Rebecca, but some people like to ignore the confirmation from other characters that she was by all accounts a rotten human being - and portray her as an innocent victim. In the film at least, Maxim didn't kill her and he does love his new wife.
  • Signature Line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
  • Signature Scene: just about any scene between the narrator and Mrs Danvers could count but the one by the open window takes the cake.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The film seems to be trying to avoid this by changing things so that Maxim wasn't responsible for Rebecca's death. In the book, she goads him into shooting her; in the film, she falls.
  • The Woobie:
    • Maxim if you think about it. He spent forever trapped in an unhappy marriage to a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who had no problem having open affairs in front of him - all the while the rest of his high society friends thought of her as a perfect angel. Even after her death, his house is a shrine to her, partly thanks to Mrs Danvers. Of course since he was the one who killed her, it muddies things a little. But he does genuinely love his new wife, and it looks as if Rebecca will continue to hover over them from beyond the grave, especially after his house is burned down by Mrs Danvers, all in the name of Rebecca.
    • The second Mrs de Winter is looked down on by nearly all of Maxim's high society friends and employees - Beatrice being the lone exception - and she's frequently treated as if she's a street urchin. She spends the whole story feeling that she's a Replacement Goldfish for Rebecca.


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