The Hitchcock Haul: Rebecca (1940)

rebecca1940dvdThis film has a special place in my heart. It, along with the novel by Daphne du Maurier, turned me onto mysteries and thrillers — something I’ve been obsessed with ever since.

Just to set the bar, we’re talking about a movie that has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and earned Hitchcock his only Best Picture Oscar. It is a beautifully haunting and tantalizing film, and yet still not as good as the book.

rebecca-by-daphne-du-maurier

When I was younger and starting to get into Hitchcock, my Mom would talk about the film Rebecca and how great it was, but she could never get her hands on it to watch. When Netflix came out, we signed up right away (it was like destiny), and one of the first films my Mom put on the queue was Rebecca. It was unavailable for YEARS! Finally, after I graduated from college, we were mailed our copy.

At this point I had already read the novel out of anticipation. It delighted me! The scandal was incredibly juicy for something written in 1938, and the psychological horror that was prevalent throughout was amazing. The important twists in plot impressed me. They were both shocking and plausible. It’s a tale of sexual deviance, resentment, and coping with the past.

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The Hitchcock Haul: Juno and the Paycock (1929) aka My Unsolicited Thoughts on Adaptation

imgresOk, you’re all going to hate me for this, but I didn’t finish the movie. Maybe it was the awful digital restoration that was bothering me, or the fact that it was a poor adaptation of a brilliant play, but I found myself instantly zoning out and scrolling through Twitter as soon as it started.

Juno and the Paycock is based on the award-winning 1924 play by the Irish play write Sean O’Casey. I do not over exaggerate when I say that this play is massively popular in Ireland and incredibly important. I’m certain that if I went to see this performed on stage I’d be riveted and enjoy it greatly. But that’s because I’d be in a theater state of mind. As a film, it just couldn’t hold my attention.

WARNING: SLIGHTLY OFF TOPIC TANGENT BELOW

Adaptation is a very tricky thing. It requires a complete overhaul of the source material to properly convert it to the new medium. Juno and the Paycock was released when film was still relatively new. A lot of the times people thought they could just film a play as is and it would become “a film.” Unfortunately, the conventions of film and theater are different enough that it just can’t work that way. While I don’t think Hitchcock can claim ignorance of his craft as to why he approach Juno in this way, it certainly had the same outcome.

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