Sunday, April 20, 2008

In memoriam, Daphne du Maurier

Depending on the source, this weekend marks 19 years since the death of author Daphne du Maurier. (The IMDb lists April 19 as the day she died; one of my almanacs lists April 20.)

Noted director Alfred Hitchcock directed three movies based on her works:

The Birds. I've already blogged about this movie, but suffice it to say that it's well worth watching at any time.

Rebecca. Laurence Olivier plays the widower Max de Winter with a bit of a mysterious past who marries Joan Fontaine, who discovers that because of his first wife, she's not exactly liked at the de Winter estate. TCM is currently schedule to air Rebecca as part of "The Essentials" on Saturday, May 3, at 8:00 PM ET.

Jamaica Inn. This might be the most interesting of the three movies, simply because it's something Hitchcock didn't do very often: a period piece. Set in the early 1800s, Jamaica Inn stars Maureen O'Hara as a young Irish woman going to live with her aunt and uncle at Jamaica Inn in Cornwall after the death of her parents. The night she arrives, there's a shipwreck -- one that was deliberately caused by a band of scavengers who meet up at Jamaica Inn, and who try to hang one of their number who seems less than 100% loyal. O'Hara happens to see all this through the cracks in her floor, and saves the man from being hanged. Together, they go to the local bigwig, played by Charles Laughton, to let him know the awful things that are going on. It's too bad for them that they don't know he's the ringleader of the whole band of scavengers. Hitchcock does his usual bang-up job in this 1939 movie, the last one he made before heading off to America to work for David O. Selznick and direct Rebecca. The movie almost didn't get made, but Hitchcock had the time to do it because the contract negotiations with Selznick had apparently hit a snag, and so Hitchcock directed this as a favor for Laughton, who was his good friend.

IMDb lists all three of these movies as being available on DVD.

No comments: