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REBECCA


HoldenIsHere
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I wasn't planning on watching REBECCA today but when I turned the TV on it was playing on TCM (at about the halfway point) and as usual I was drawn in.

I'd somehow forgotten the twist about Rebecca's London doctor (which made the scene in his office all the more suspenseful), but of course I remembered the fire.

The scene with Mrs. Danvers showing the new Mrs. de Winter Rebecca's clothes and underwear must have been shocking in 1940 especially when she shows her how she can see her hand through Rebecca's negligee.

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Thanks for sharing this, hamradio.

 

It would be interesting to read Hitchcock's original rejected screenplay. At any rate, he was able to make the points he wanted in the final film much in the way that von Sternberg did in BLONDE VENUS, implicitly rather than explicitly. Unlike von Sternberg, Hitchcock was working under the greater constraints of the Production Code.

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HoldenIsHere wrote:

<< Unlike von Sternberg, Hitchcock was working under the greater constraints of the Production Code.>>

 

That brings to mind another movie even with greater constraints, "The Childrens Hour" (1961). Back then one couldn't even dare to touch the topic with a 20 foot pole.

 

Different time period - different values.

 

By the way, did the Production code prevented us seeing the spoiled brat, Mary Tilford getting killed (figurally speaking) by her grandmother? LOVED to have seen that! :)

 

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hamradio: I have just read all of the Wiki material including the court judgment of the plagiarism charge. Thank you so much for this.

 

There was a spirited discussion of the book vs. screenplay on another thread and this clarifies the differences which is information I did not then have. While Maxim does shoot Rebecca in the book it is only after she has deliberately goaded him into it to get back at him even after death. It's not exactly murder as we usually define it. Our justice code might call it 2nd degree murder or a perhaps manslaughter but mercy winning out over justice does not seem out of place at the end. The film does have a much more benign account of Rebecca's death which makes the innocent Maxim's concealing the evidence acceptable.

 

Sexual material had to be subtlety presented because of Hayes/Breen so that sheer nightware was a bit surprising. The thing was that having to use your imagination to get what was going on made it more explicit than just putting it all out there. For another example, the suggestion of a lesbian relationship between Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca-or her desire for one-can be left there or taken further depending on the individual viewer's mindset.

 

I have always loved this movie but now have more appreciation for it. Thanks again!

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>That brings to mind another movie even with greater constraints, "The Childrens Hour" (1961). Back then one couldn't even dare to touch the topic with a 20 foot pole.

 

Ham, didn't you mean to instead say the original Hollywood treatment of Hellman's play, 1936's "These Three"? Because as I recall, the 1961 remake does cover the topic of lesbianism which was in Hellman's original stage play.

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Sexual material had to be subtlety presented because of Hayes/Breen so that sheer nightware *was* a bit surprising. The thing was that having to use your imagination to get what was going on made it more explicit than just putting it all out there. For another example, the suggestion of a lesbian relationship between Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca-or her desire for one-can be left there or taken further depending on the individual viewer's mindset.

 

Yes, wouldbestar, the brilliant use of ambiguity in this film allows the individual viewer to "fill in the blanks," although I can't imagine any adult coming away from the scene in Rebecca's bedroom without at least a hint of the sexual overtones to Mrs. Danvers's affection for Rebecca. The easy response is to see Mrs. Danvers's behavior as a creepy obsession, but the more I think about it I can see that Rebecca manipulated Mrs. Danvers's feelings. This manipulation certainly fits with Maxim's description of Rebecca's cruel nature.

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There is a BBC version of the story, which I saw on PBS, in which Mr. DeWinter tells his new wife that he murdered Rebecca, and where Mrs. Danvers mentions the lesbian relationship.

 

I saw this merely as sensationalizing stuff, designed to sell books, and that was not necessary to the basic story. I prefer the Hitchcock version. I do not wish to think of Mr. De Winter as a cold blooded killer and his new wife as an accessory after the fact. These are certainly two people I would not like to know or associate with.

 

In the Hitchock version, I like both people at the end of the movie. At the end of the BBC version, I want to report both of them to the police.

 

And also, I think it is a bad idea for PBS to tell kids and teenagers that it is OK to murder your wife, if she is a rude and "bad" person. This is not a lesson that should be taught by PBS to children, teens, and most adults.

 

We see plenty of news stories and major trials on TV about real spouse murderers today, and spouse-murder-justification films on TV should not be shown as being an OK thing to do.

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There was only a very vague, suttle euphemism used in that Martha had always felt more than friendship for Karen.

 

The Hays Code, at the time of the 1961's film production, would never permit a film to focus on or even hint at lesbianism.

 

The movie focused on an ugly rumor and you know how such gossip is easily spread in a small closed knit community before the truth is presented.

 

work-drama.jpg

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True, but my point was more the idea that in the '36 version even the whole premise as to what exactly was rumored had been changed from Hellman's original to a more Hays Code acceptable premise that the "illicitness" had been between a man and a woman(Oberon and McCrea) , and whereas I recall in the '61 remake the Code by that time had been somewhat relaxed to the point that the accusation levied by the troubled little girl was about Hepburn and MacLaine, and which as I understand it was the plot point in Hellman's original stage play.

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Fred,

 

In the novel on which Hitchcock's film is based Maxim de Winter did shoot and kill Rebecca and then conceal her body. This detail was changed for the movie to comply with the Production Code, which would have required Maxim to be punished for the murder. I suspect Hitchcock would have kept the murder in the plot had he been allowed.

 

It was Hitchcock who added the lesbian overtones to Mrs. Danvers's feelings for Rebecca. In the novel, Mrs. Danvers was Rebecca's nursemaid as a child and is portrayed as a jealous mother figure. In Hitchcock's film she is a much younger woman who did not meet Rebecca until she came to work at Manderley.

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Hi Ham,

 

I saw the film in a theater in 1961. Pre-release publicity mentioned the lesbian angle to the story, and some of the dialogue at the end of the film made it clear.

 

The way they got around the Code was by having one of the girls say the way she thought was bad and sick and crazy, then she hanged herself.

 

Here is the dialogue as posted on IMDB:

 

Martha: There's always been something wrong. Always, just as long as I can remember. But I never knew what it was until all this happened.

 

 

Karen: Stop it Martha! Stop this crazy talk!

 

 

Martha: You're afraid of hearing it, but I'm more afraid that you.

 

 

Karen: I won't listen to you!

 

 

Martha: No! You've got to know. I've got to tell you. I can't keep it to myself any longer. I'm guilty!

 

 

Karen: You're guilty of nothing!

 

 

Martha: I've been telling myself that since the night I heard the child say it. I lie in bed night after night praying that it isn't true. But I know about it now. It's there. I don't know how, I don't know why. But I did love you! I do love you! I resented your plans to marry. Maybe because I wanted you. Maybe I've wanted you all these years. I couldn't call it by name before, but maybe it's been there since I first knew you.

 

 

Karen: But it's not the truth, not a word of it is true! We've never thought of each other that way.

 

 

Martha: No, of course you didn't. But who's to say I didn't. I'd never felt that way about anybody before you. I've never loved a man. I never knew why before, maybe it's that.

 

 

Karen: You're tired and worn out.

 

 

Martha: It's funny. It's all mixed up. There's something in you, and you don't know anything about it because you don't know it's there. And then suddenly, one night a little girl gets bored and tells a lie, and there, for the first time, you see it. Then you say to yourself, did she see it? Did she sense it?

 

 

Karen: But you know it could have been any lie. She was looking for anything to...

 

 

Martha: But why this lie? She found the lie with the ounce of truth. Don't you see? I can't stand to have you touch me! I can't stand to have you look at me! Oh, it's all my fault. I have ruined your life and I have ruined my own. I swear I didn't know it! I didn't mean it! Oh, I feel so damn sick and dirty I can't stand it anymore!

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>This detail was changed for the movie to comply with the Production Code, which would have required Maxim to be punished for the murder.

 

In the BBC version, Mr. De Winter got away with the murder, with the help of the new Mrs. De Winter.

 

I've never read the book, so I don't know what it says. I only know what people have said it says.

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I've never read the book, so I don't know what it says. I only know what people have said it says.

 

 

In the book Maxim does in fact get away with murder. He shoots Rebecca when she tells him she is pregnant with another man's child and plans to pass off the child as Maxim's. In the end after Rebecca's body is discovered, her death is ruled a suicide at the inquest. The truth is never revealed other than to the new Mrs. de Winter (who is in a sense an accomplice after the fact).

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Fred,

 

Hitchcock added the lesbian overtones to Mrs. Danvers's feelings for Rebecca. In the novel, Mrs. Danvers was Rebecca's nursemaid as a child and is portrayed as a jealous mother figure. In Hitchcock's film she is a much younger woman who did not meet Rebecca until she came to work at Manderley. Hitchcock was able to portray the lesbian overtones by presenting this implicitly rather than explicitly. Nevertheless, I am surprised the Production Code allowed the part where Mrs. Danvers shows the new Mrs. de Winter how she can see her hand through Rebecca's negligee.

 

I've never seen the BBC production you refer to, but it sounds as if the lesbian apect was presented more explictly in that version. At any rate, it was Hitchcock who added this element to the story.

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>Hitchcock added the lesbian overtones to Mrs. Danvers's feelings for Rebecca.

 

I'll have to think that over for a while. I always thought Hitchcock's Mrs. Danvers was a low-level working-class person who admired Rebecca's high-class and charm, while Mrs. Danvers was neither high-class nor charming, and Mrs. Danvers was living vicariously through Rebecca.

 

I just can't imagine any man (or woman) kissing Mrs. Danvers, and I thought of her as a crazy jealous "old maid" in the Hitchcock movie. I was even suspicious that she never was married and just used the "Mrs." as a fake title. :P

 

But, you might be right, and I'll consider that now that you've pointed it out. :)

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Hint? The sexual overtones hit me with a sledgehammer.

 

finance, I agree with you that it was much more than a hint . . . and I'm sure that was Hitchcock's intention. I was commenting that I could not see how any adult watching this movie would not see at least a hint of this, but in fact it was much more than a hint.

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Simple answer here, Holden: Some peoples' "Gaydar" isn't the best, that's all!

 

(...which reminds me of the time I once tried to match up a lady co-worker in my office who continually bemoaned that all the men she dated were "losers", but when I asked her why she never thought of dating another co-worker of ours, a very nice guy who everybody liked and who she always seemed to especially like, it turned out I was the only person in the office who didn't know Clarence was gay)

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>Hitchcock was able to portray the lesbian overtones by presenting this implicitly rather than explicitly. Nevertheless, I am surprised the Production Code allowed the part where Mrs. Danvers shows the new Mrs. de Winter how she can see her hand through Rebecca's negligee.

 

Well, I saw it (and still see it) differently.

 

I'll try this one more time. Let me know what you think, and please be polite even if you think I am wrong. :)

 

For example, in my opinion, there aren't just 2 kinds of women in the world: lesbians and non-lesbians. There are all kinds of women in the world, and all kinds of friendships. In a female-female friendship, for example, one can be lesbian while the other one is not.

 

Or, both can be hetro, but one can be pretty and the other one ugly, but the one who is ugly could admire the pretty one and dream about being just like her and having a handsome rich husband like Max De Winter.

 

That's the impression I get of Mrs. Danvers in the Hitchcock movie, Not as a lesbian, but more like the hetro character she played in LAURA, where she was homely and un-charming, and she knew it, but she was rich in that film and had enough money to attract a handsome young guy like Vincent Price, who always needed money.

 

So, I think Hitchcock was portraying Mrs. Danvers in REBECCA as being this type of ugly hetro woman friend of Rebecca, who wanted to be like Rebecca. A hetro lady, but one who was poor rather than wealthy, and she was also ugly. She WANTED to be beautiful and charming like Rebecca, and have a handsome rich husband like Mr. De Winter, but she was too ugly and she lacked the charm. But that doesn't automatically make her a lesbian. Lots of women are like that, but without being lesbians.

 

Showing the new Mrs. De Winter Rebecca's underwear would fit right into this admiration theme. It is Mrs. Danvers who would like to be wearing that underwear in the bedroom of a very handsome wealthy MAN like Mr. De Winter. She doesn't want to wear it in front of a woman, she wants to wear it in front of a handsome man, but handsome men gag when they see her. That is what makes her so angry at life in general.

 

If there was an intended lesbian inference regarding Mrs. Danvers, I think Mrs. Danvers would have made some romantic passes and comments toward the new Mrs. De Winter, and she might have offered to buy her some fancy underwear too, and maybe she might put her arm around her from time to time.

 

The new Mrs. De Winter COULD possibly fulfill a new lesbian-companion role for a lesbian Mrs. Danvers, but she COULD NOT be as intelligent and as charming as Rebecca, or as beautiful, so a hetro Mrs. Danvers found no use for the new Mrs. De Winter, and she saw her as being only a common stupid uneducated working girl. So the lady Mrs. Danvers wanted to be like (Rebecca) was replaced by another poor working girl like herself (like Mrs. Danvers), so she couldn't continue to carry on her "I am dreaming about being Rebecca" fantasy with the new Mrs. De Winter. That's why she hated her.

 

Watch THE UNINVITED (1944) from the same era. There are some very strong lesbian suggestions about the Cornelia Otis Skinner character (the lady who runs the clinic), and the lady who died falling off the cliff (the bad ghost). The suggestions are that they were both lesbians AND lovers. But there is absolutely NO suggestion in the Hitchcock film that Mrs. Danvers was ever a lover of Rebecca.

 

If you disagree, I am willing to read a response from you, but please be polite. :)

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Fred,

 

I do think that Hitchcock was implying that Mrs. Danvers's feelings for Rebecca was much more than admiration. He was not in any any way implying that there was ever a physical relationship between Mrs. Danvers and Rebecca, but Mrs. Danvers loved Rebecca --would wait up for her each night and took plaesure in brushing her hair and caring for her clothes. Because she loved Rebecca she would never have betrayed Rebecca with the new Mrs. de Winter. And she clearly had no affection for Maxim de Winter.

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