Alfred Hitchcock (1940)

A Certificate


Our Score
Alfred Hitchcock's first Hollywood film is a sumptuous and suspenseful adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's romantic novel. Produced by David O Selznick, it is immaculately played and was rightly awarded the Oscar for best picture. That Laurence Olivier as Maxim de Winter is superb goes without saying, but it's mousey Joan Fontaine who is a revelation as the second Mrs de Winter. Lovers of lesbian subtexts will have a field day with Judith Anderson's sinister housekeeper Mrs Danvers, as Hitchcock circumvents the Hays Code censors who forced him to make changes to the original story. Fortunately no damage was done - unless you think too hard. And, since the style and pace never let up, there's no danger of that happening.


The naive second wife of a wealthy Cornish landowner lives in the shadow of her glamorous predecessor, who died in mysterious circumstances. The servants are devoted to their late mistress, particularly the sinister housekeeper, and the new arrival is driven to the brink of madness as she questions her relationship with her husband. Alfred Hitchcock's romantic thriller, based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.

Cast & Crew

Maxim de Winter Laurence Olivier
Mrs de Winter Joan Fontaine
Jack Favell George Sanders
Mrs Danvers Judith Anderson
Major Giles Lacy Nigel Bruce
Frank Crawley Reginald Denny
Colonel Julyan C Aubrey Smith
Beatrice Lacy Gladys Cooper
Mrs Edythe Van Hopper Florence Bates
Coroner Melville Cooper
Dr Baker Leo G Carroll
Ben Leonard Carey
Director Alfred Hitchcock
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Other Information

Language: EnglishBlack and whiteTheatrical distributor: NFTAvailable on: video and DVDReleased on: 30 Jun 2006