Design Blockbusters: Rebecca

July 14, 2015

By Tab Byrum

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.

I LOVE old movies and by old I mean anything before 1960, one of my favorite directors from that time period is Alfred Hitchcock and one of the movies he did that has amazing design is Rebecca.

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Rebecca is based on the novel by the same name by Daphne Du Maurier, it tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with an older man whose a member of the English aristocracy. Her husband is George Fortescue Maximillian De Winter and he is the lord and master of the estate and it’s mansion known as Manderley.  Maxim and his new wife meet on the Riviera, fall in love, marry and return to Manderley but one thing the young woman doesn’t realize is that there is a presence at Manderley with a strong grip on what goes on in the house and those who live in it, her name is Rebecca and her memory is kept alive by the troubled housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers.

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To find out what happens you will have to watch the movie but I want to focus on the architecture and interiors of Manderlay, the home is a typical British country mansion, with grand rooms, fireplaces, furniture and huge floral arrangements, and even though the film is in black and white you can still get a good feeling for the grandeur of the house.

The masculine feel of the stone and wood mansion is totally offset by the ultra-feminine bedroom of the former lady of the manor. Check out these pictures from this 1940 film and lose yourself in the evil beauty of Manderley and Rebecca. Enjoy!!!

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This is the first glimpse we get inside the walls of Manderley along with our heroine. The great hall, the grand staircase with the diamond-paned windows and the obelisks on the posts of the staircase. 

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On her first day at Manderley, the new mistress of the Manor is directed to the Morning Room where a fire is waiting for her. This is where she can write her correspondence and go over the day’s menus. This room is very feminine with lots of ceramic figurines and floral fabrics used. That’s Jasper the black cocker spaniel lying in front of the fire. 

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We never learn the name of Maxim’s new wife in the novel or the movie. In this scene, she finally enters the opulent bedroom of Rebecca with it’s huge windows overlooking the sea, gilded mirrors, and furnishings. Everything is kept just as she left it, CREEPY (and wonderful).

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There is a costume ball during the movie and the great hall is turned into a banqueting and dance hall. This is the view of it from the grand staircase. 

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Joan Fontaine’s character dresses as Lady Caroline De Winter, one of Maxim’s ancestors. Needless to say, the night does not end well. 

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That night of the ball there is a confrontation between the new Mrs. De Winter and Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca’s gorgeous boudoir. 

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I included this shot just for a look at the leading man, Sir Laurence Olivier played the role of Maxim De Winter. 

Joan Fontaine and Judith Anderson in Rebecca

This is one of the most iconic photos from the film, just imagine the horrible things Mrs. Danvers is whispering in the poor girl’s ear, I guarantee you it’s not about wallpaper or paint colors. 

If you’ve never seen Rebecca I strongly encourage you to do so, especially if you are at all into the great British-made shows currently on Masterpiece Theatre. This is a true gothic romance/mystery set in the English countryside in an English manor, What’s not to like.

Unless otherwise noted, all images are courtesy of Pinterest.
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