Hitchcock: Double Vision
Monday, June 27, 2022, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Instructor: Jennifer Fleeger, Ph.D., Media and Communication Studies, Ursinus College
The narrator of Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, Rebecca, famously has no name. One might, then, think her an ideal prototype for Hitchcock’s famous blondes, except that rather than being sophisticated and scheming, she’s naïve—a quality perfectly captured by leading actress Joan Fontaine. In the film, she wanders through her new home, Manderley, a mansion full of rooms preserved in memory of the eponymous Rebecca, the beautiful late wife of the wealthy Maxim De Winter (Laurence Olivier).
Rather than giving audiences evidence of Rebecca’s ghostly presence, Hitchcock embodies her power in the creepy brilliance of the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), whose obsession with her former mistress led to Rebecca’s inclusion in a canon of classical Hollywood films with widely accepted queer interpretations. As the story lives in a murky boundary between past and present, so, too, does the film itself straddle two worlds: Rebecca was Alfred Hitchcock’s first American film, although he considered it neither very American nor particularly Hitchcockian. Perhaps these traits have something to do with Rebecca earning eleven Academy Award nominations and winning for Best (Black-and White) Cinematography and Best Picture—making it the only Hitchcock film to win the top prize.
This seminar will address how Hitchcock’s adaptation sustains the gothic mystique of the novel, paying special attention to camerawork and music. We will talk about producer David O. Selznick’s contribution to Hitchcock’s career and, more broadly, to the American cinema during this period. Finally, we will discuss the influence of the Production Code on Hitchcock’s decisions and the effects of the film’s popularity on the careers of its actors. Join us for this seminar and go to Manderley again.
Are you interested in “just” seeing this movie? Additional showtimes can be found here.
Cinema Classics Seminars offer an entertaining and engaging way to learn more about some of the true classics of world cinema. All students receive an introductory lecture before the film and a guided discussion after the film. In addition, those who attend the seminar on site at BMFI receive a ticket to see it on the big screen, as well as popcorn and a drink.
Please note: There are two ways to attend in this seminar:
Please email BMFI Education Coordinator Jill Malcolm with any questions.