“Rebecca:” Going Back to Manderley Again

by hookedonhouses on April 11, 2010

Movie Poster from the Classic Film "Rebecca" | hookedonhouses.net

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” Who could forget the opening line from Rebecca? It lets us know that this is a story about a house, and it’s no ordinary pile of bricks. It’s Maxim de Winter’s ancestral estate on the Cornish coast. But even though Manderley looks like a dream home, it turns out to be a nightmare for Maxim and his new bride.

Manderley from the Classic Movie "Rebecca" | hookedonhouses.net

It may look like a real English estate, but according to it was actually a miniature built on a table and blown up onscreen. (Via Architectural Digest.) Everything else appears to have been created on soundstages and with painted backgrounds.

Exterior view of Manderley's west wing in Rebecca

Rebecca was Alfred Hitchcock’s first film in the U.S. and was made in 1939. He wanted access to Hollywood stars, better equipment, etc. He later brought Du Maurier’s novels Jamaica Inn and The Birds to the big screen, as well.

Manderley in classic film Rebecca-front doors

In this promotional photo from the film, the new Mrs. de Winter is introduced to her household staff–and is a little intimidated by it all:

Promotional Photo from Classic Film "Rebecca"

Joan Fontaine’s character’s name is never revealedin the novel or the film. She was referred to as “I” in the script.

Grand Staircase at Manderley in Rebecca

The novel was written by Daphne Du Maurier. David O. Selznick acquired the rights to it for $50,000.

A little trivia: Did you know that Selznick added the “O” to his name because he thought it looked good? Totally made it up. In Hitchcock’s later film North by Northwest, Cary Grant’s character is named Roger O. Thornhill. When someone asks him what the “O” stands for, he says, “Nothing!” (You can see my post about that movie here.)

Joan Fontaine in Manderley's Great Hall Rebecca

Rebecca is a Gothic romance, in which the Cinderella fairytale goes wrong. Gothic romances usually feature great houses like this one, and they often meet a tragic end (think Jane Eyre).

Manderley Great Hall 5

The house all decked out for the (ill-fated) costume ball:

Manderley decorated for a ball in Rebecca

“When the Academy Awards for 1940 were announced, at LA’s Biltmore Hotel on February 27 1941, it was a bittersweet night for Alfred Hitchcock. His first Hollywood production, Rebecca, took Best Picture, but he lost Best Director to John Ford for The Grapes of Wrath, the first in a career-long run of five nominations without taking a trophy.” –Telegraph

Manderley staircase

Movie critic Richard Schickel says that Hitchcock communicated in images that created the effect he wanted viewers to feel. For example, he shows how far apart the newlyweds are from each other–in more ways than one–when they eat at this vast and formal dining room table.

Dining Room at Manderley in Rebecca

Later in his career, Hitchcock dismissed the idea that Rebecca was a classic, saying, “The fact is, the story lacks humor.”

Manderley dining room 3

Despite the fact that the story takes place in England, and most of the actors are British, the movie was filmed entirely in California.

the library at Manderley in Rebecca

Joan Fontaine’s real name was Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland. She didn’t use her real last name because her older sister, Olivia de Havilland, was already becoming well known as an actress. When Rebecca began filming, her sister had just finished playing Melanie in Gone with the Wind (you can see my post about GWTW here).

Apparently Joan and Olivia were very competitive with each other. Hitchcock reportedly joked about how he wanted to sneak Olivia onto the set with Joan without her knowledge and film her (unhappy) reaction.

the library fireplace in Manderley

Mrs. De Winter’s new bedroom at Manderley which, as Mrs. Danvers points out, doesn’t have a view of the sea like Rebecca’s did:

Mrs. De Winter's bedroom in the classic Rebecca

Du Maurier’s grandfather was George Du Maurier, the author of the famous novel Trilby, which tells the tale of Svengali.

Mrs. De Winter's bedroom 3

Mrs. De Winter's bedroom 4

When I first saw Rebecca as a teenager, I was captivated by the idea of having a Morning Room like hers where I could go after breakfast to sit by the fire and catch up on my correspondence:

The Morning Room in the Classic Movie Rebecca

Rebecca’s writing desk with her distinctive monogram on everything:

Rebecca's writing desk

The top of the grand staircase:

staircase landing at Manderley in Rebecca

The upstairs hallway:

upstairs hallway 1

Walking to the wing where Rebecca’s room was:

upstairs hallway 2

Mrs. Danvers is more than happy to give the new Mrs. de Winter a tour of Rebecca’s wing:

Rebecca's grand bedroom in the classic film 2

Censors worried about the homosexual undertones in the film when it came to Mrs. Danvers’ implied relationship with Rebecca (remember the scene where she fondles Rebecca’s lacy lingerie?). Because nothing was explicitly said or shown, however, they didn’t cut anything.

Daphne Du Maurier is believed to have had relationships with both men and women herself.

Rebecca's grand bedroom in the classic film

Mrs. Danvers has preserved all of Rebecca’s things exactly the way she left them–right down to the embroidered, monogrammed pillow on her bed. (So creepy!)

Rebecca's bedroom 4

We get a peek inside the fabulous bathroom and dressing area:

Rebecca's bedroom 2

George Sanders played Jack Favell, who was having an affair with Rebecca when she died and is determined to prove that her husband murdered her.

Sanders was married to both Zsa Zsa Gabor and her sister Magda (but not at the same time, natch). In 1972, Sanders famously killed himself after writing a suicide note that said, “Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.”

George Sanders

*SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, then the rest of this post might ruin the ending for you. You might want to go watch it first!

Manderley exterior in classic film Rebecca

Rebecca’s Stone Cottage on the Beach:

the stone cottage in the classic movie Rebecca

Rebecca’s cottage was where she had trysts with men like Jack Favell. Everything appears to have remained exactly as it was the night she died–right down to her cigarette butts in the ashtray.

stone cottage 1

Selznick wanted the film to be as close to the novel as possible. There is a major departure, however. In the novel, Max de Winter shoots Rebecca. In the movie, Max says he struck her and when she fell, she hit her head and died.

stone cottage 2

When Laurence Olivier was cast as Max de Winter, he had just established himself in the U.S. as a romantic hero by playing Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights.

I always pictured Rebecca as a Vivien Leigh type, so it’s hard to believe that Leigh herself was up for the role of second Mrs. de Winter. She and Olivier were an item at the time and campaigned to get her cast alongside him. She had just finished playing Scarlett in Gone with the Wind.

The DVD features her screen test with Olivier, and she tried her best to play a “plain Jane,” but it just wasn’t very believable. Apparently the producers agreed. Fontaine–a relative newcomer at the time–was cast instead.

stone cottage 3

When Mrs. Danvers finds out the truth about Rebecca, she sets the house on fire. The final paragraph in the novel describes how the de Winters are driving home and slowly realize what has happened:

The road to Manderley lay ahead. There was no moon. The sky above our heads was inky black. But the sky on the horizon was not dark at all. It was shot with crimson, like a splash of blood. And the ashes blew towards us with the salt wind from the sea.

Manderley burning down 2

Author Daphne du Maurier was born in London in 1907 and began writing in her ’20s. Rebecca made her famous.

According to the Picture Show Man, Daphne du Maurier’s inspiration for Manderley was a 16th-century estate where she lived for awhile called Menabilly. Here’s a photo taken of her there (via the DVD Special Features):

Daphne Du Maurier at Menabilly

Du Maurier grew up in a privileged world and knew how to write about it. Here she is in a photo taken at Menabilly with her three children. It was a place she loved:

Daphne Du Maurier and children-Menabilly

I’ve read Rebecca and watched the movie countless times since I was a teenager, but I’ll never forget the first time I read it and how shocked I was by the various twists and turns in the story. Any other Rebecca fans out there?

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Visit my TV/Movie Houses page to see more, including…

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The Sets from Gone with the Wind

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Becky @ Farmgirl Paints April 11, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Wow! I’ve never seen that movie. I can’t believe how ornate that house was.
.-= Becky @ Farmgirl Paints´s last blog ..The greasy spoon =-.

Erin April 11, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Thanks you SO MUCH for this walk through Manderly! I cannot tell you how in love I am with this movie – how much it creeped me out when I was a child and how I see the nuances and art of it as an adult. The background stories were such a bonus!
.-= Erin´s last blog ..{101} Happiness! =-.

Lisa April 11, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Thank you so much for featuring Manderley! “Rebecca” is my all time favorite movie so I’m always stunned when I meet someone who’s never heard of it much less seen it. I was thrilled to see you giving it some well deserved attention.

Like you I have dreamt of having a morning room like Rebecca’s. I may be greedier that you though, I’ve always wanted Rebecca’s bedroom AND the stone cottage too. I’ve always said “If a house has good real estate, I’m in!” but nothing comes close to matching the grandeur of Manderley.

Thanks again!

Lori-Anne April 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Rebecca is one of my favourite books! I’ve seen the movie once, several years ago, and now think it’s time to revisit it. In the meantime, however, I’m planning a blog post soon on another fave, a book called Treveryan by Daphne’s sister, Angela. No movie, but the imagery of the home is also quite evocative! Have you heard of it? Most haven’t.
.-= Lori-Anne´s last blog ..One a Penny, Two a Penny… =-.

Cindy April 11, 2010 at 11:38 pm

I must read that book again because it’s been way too many years. That Mrs. Danvers was so creepy and I always felt sorry for what’s-her-name. The fact that you could read the whole book and never knew her name always fascinated me. what a clever idea. Thanks for showing us the mansion Julia. BTW Did you know that Mr. Hitchcock was always somewhere in the movies he made? In Rebecca he is walking by a phonebooth toward the end of the movie.

Susan April 11, 2010 at 11:46 pm

One of my favorite movies! Thank you for so many fine stills!! I think that Joan Fontaine was perfectly cast in her role. She was timid and self deprecating, yet she was lovely and fresh as the new wife. While I thought Manderley was impressive, and I too longed for a “morning room”, I have always liked Rebecca’s cottage. Cleaned of the dust, cobwebs and intrigue, it just seemed like it could be so warm and welcoming. Now I will have to pull out my copy of Rebecca and make a cup of tea and settle in for a misty evening!!

Susan and Bentley
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Mini Porch Metamorphosis =-.

Nancy@marcusdesign April 11, 2010 at 11:55 pm

This house is really stunning, it’s awesome that you included so many photos of it. I think I love the library the most, did you notice that the fireplace is way taller than the woman in the photo? Now that’s a grand fireplace!!
.-= Nancy@marcusdesign´s last blog ..{lovely retro telephones} =-.

Kim April 12, 2010 at 12:19 am

I have never seen this movie. What an amazing gorgeous house. I love the way Albert Hitchcock captured the interior. He made sure every detail was as perfect as possible. How sad that the house went up in flames. It saddens me when homes get ruined.

Something I love about old films is beautiful gowns women wear. Like in the movie “Gone With the Wind”. It makes me want to wear one. I love the silk ball gown Rebecca wears in this movie. You just don’t see them in movies much today.

Richard Orton July 31, 2010 at 2:46 am

Hitchcock didn’t “capture” the interior, he created it and used storyboards to design the images he got with careful planning. And there were no house burned in the movie, just models of houses, large models I’ve heard, that just never managed to look very convincing to me.

Tracy @ Comfort&Luxury April 12, 2010 at 1:17 am

I was looking at this book a few days ago in B&N… thinking about recommending it to my book club as a way to re-read it. I need to watch the movie again too. Such a great story. Thanks for all the great stills, Julia!
.-= Tracy @ Comfort&Luxury´s last blog ..New to My Library =-.

Annie@A View on Design April 12, 2010 at 1:26 am

no fav for me, I’ve never heard of it before, but what a grand residence indeed!
.-= Annie@A View on Design´s last blog ..Grande Adelaide Cont. Queen Anne =-.

Josanne April 12, 2010 at 2:24 am

What a beautiful, beautiful house! Thank you for featuring it so I could drool over the details! I just LOVE old homes!
.-= Josanne´s last blog ..Travelling-Day Six =-.

The Little Red Shop April 12, 2010 at 2:34 am

I have thought of that morning room, quite often, since first seeing “Rebecca” when I was young. Growing up, Olivier, Cary Grant, and Fred Astaire were my favorite actors. When I wasn’t reading…I was watching their movies. I don’t know if I’ve seen the 1997 version…I’ll add it to my list!

: )

Julie M.

ps I think that’s pretty sad about Joan and Olivia’s relationship.
.-= The Little Red Shop´s last blog ..Ma Cuisine, Week III ~ Little Missed Soffit =-.

E. George April 12, 2010 at 3:21 am

Hi Julia you know I have not seen this movie for such a very very long time. I think I was in my teens and I found it creepy so I never read the book either sorry. But I am thankful to you for featuring the movie set which is beautiful when you are in your teens you don’t really pay attention to the backdrop if I can call it that (gigantic backdrop). Till next time have a great week Regards Esther from Sydney…

Nichole April 12, 2010 at 4:48 am

What a great post! I’m sorry to say that although I tried to read the book years ago, I never made it all the way through. Love all the trivia in the post. Have a great week!
.-= Nichole´s last blog ..The Transformation Of My Breakfast Room =-.

Robin April 12, 2010 at 5:52 am

Hi Julia,
Another great post from another great old movie. I love your indepth research on each of these pictures. I have been an old movie buff for years, so it is refreshing when to hear the details.
I see you mentioned Diana Riggs toward the end of this post. Do you remeber her show of the mid to late 70’s simply titles Diana? It was very Mary Tyler Moorish, although not a good. I would love to see she some shot of that interior, although I have not be able to find any.
Have a great Monday.
.-= Robin´s last blog ..Another View Of the Cottage =-.

Robin April 12, 2010 at 5:54 am

p.s. sorry for all the typos. I guess my fingers don’t work this early in the a.m. lol
.-= Robin´s last blog ..Another View Of the Cottage =-.

Stephanie April 12, 2010 at 6:24 am

There’s nothing like an old black and white classic movie, especially a Hitchcock movie.
.-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Custom Word Art =-.

Amanda @ Serenity Now April 12, 2010 at 7:16 am

What a great post! Two thumbs up for Julia. :) You always do such a great job of researching everything!! I love little details like knowing about Olivia and Joan’s competitiveness and that Vivien Leigh was up for the role too. LOVE the ball gown Joan has on in one of the scenes. :)
.-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..Spring Bunny Frame Makeover =-.

Jewel April 12, 2010 at 7:20 am

Love Rebecca – both this version and the novel. Haven’t seen the MT version, though I would like to. I have said I would like to be able to read Rebecca again for the first time because I can still remember how riveting it was. Great Post!

matt April 12, 2010 at 7:49 am

not seen this film myself but i do like the way Hitchcock uses images to tell the bigger story, sadly i’ve only seen psycho but i loved the visuals of that film. i shall go check this out if i can find it :-)

Black Eyed Susans Kitchen April 12, 2010 at 8:19 am

Julia, In Red Bank NJ, we have the Count Basie Theater…you would love their Springtime movie series. Underwritten by American Express, they show vintage films from different decades over the course of a few months. The movies are free…a real gift in my opinion. My favorites have been the restored black and white classics, as well as the popular academy award winners. We just saw the Red Shoes. I will be sending them an email begging them to play Rebecca next year…how wonderful would that be?
.-= Black Eyed Susans Kitchen´s last blog ..THE ARTIST IN ALL OF US =-.

Gina April 12, 2010 at 8:46 am

I didn’t think that anyone had ever seen this movie but me!!! I’ve never known someone personally who has…isn’t that funny? I absolutely love this movie and watch it every time it comes on. Next time, I’m definitely going to DVR it! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in a house like that!

Sherry July 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Same here, Gina. Every time I mention that Rebecca is my favorite movie, I get blank stares, and “You mean Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm?” Not quite the same movie, ha! I’ve loved it since I was a little kid, and my grandmother would let me sit up to watch the late movies with her. I also love the novel and the MT version. And my goodness, what a house! Hard to convince myself it was never a real mansion in England.

Judy April 12, 2010 at 8:47 am

Rebecca is one of my all time favorite books. I must have been in my early teens when I first read it and I still have a well worn tattered copy of the book (somewhere around here). As a matter of fact, I think I’ll see if I can find it so I can read it AGAIN!

.-= Judy´s last blog ..Springtime in Talladega =-.

Richella at Imparting Grace April 12, 2010 at 8:48 am

I’d forgotten about REBECCA! I read the book many years ago, and believe it or not I’ve never seen the movie. This makes me want to read the book again AND watch the film. Reading this post reminds me of one of my favorite movies, MRS. MINIVER.

I am such an Anglophile. There’s no way around it. If a story is set in Britain, it’s a cinch that I’ll like it. One of my favorite contemporary authors is Rosamunde Pilcher.

Hope you’re having a great day!
.-= Richella at Imparting Grace´s last blog ..Weekend fun =-.

Andrea April 12, 2010 at 9:12 am

The ONLY novel I have re-read several times is Rebecca. I have never seen a movie of the book, however, so it was really fun to see your post. Thanks!
.-= Andrea´s last blog ..Shortbread Competition at the 2010 Highland Games in Woodland, CA =-.

hip hip gin gin April 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

I love Hitchcock’s Rebecca! The first time I saw it was a pure accident, I was having lunch on a random weekend and it had just come on as I sat down. Of course I love nothing more than a black and white movie so I left it and before I knew it I had watched the whole thing, fascinated, with my empty plate in hand the whole way through. Mrs. Danvers creeped me out so much! Shudder.
I read somewhere that the reason Max doesn’t say he killed her on purpose in the movie is that they had rules of some kind during that era that murder or adultery on screen had to be punished. So since Max isn’t punished for killing Rebecca in the story they had to fudge it to say it was an accident.
Great set of photos! They definitely make me want to see the movie again.
.-= hip hip gin gin´s last blog ..Simple Pleasures: Magnolia Trees =-.

desiree April 12, 2010 at 10:13 am

Great post! I haven’t seen the movie but will have to rent it.
.-= desiree´s last blog ..Just Listed: Eichler Gem =-.

Pat @ Mille Fiori April 12, 2010 at 10:38 am

Julia I enjoyed this post so much! i have such good memories of both the book and movie–they were both delicious escapes to me as a young teen..I loved the mystery, the grandness of the house and the sense of suspense and plot twists that seemed so mature to me back then. Hitchcock was certainly one of the best directors at the time and a master in developing characters and suspense in his films.
.-= Pat @ Mille Fiori´s last blog ..Spring Angels, Flowers, and Beautiful Vistas =-.

Sara April 12, 2010 at 11:45 am

Thank you so much for this wonderful post! So much fun information, and what a great house (if you can call it that). I’ve seen the movie more than once, but never read the book. After your post I want to do both! Love all things gothic and glamorous.
.-= Sara´s last blog ..Dive Night – Neumann’s =-.

Katie April 12, 2010 at 11:59 am

Crazy that you posted this! I’ve spent the last couple days wondering about movies based on book Rebecca, but just hadn’t had time to look anything up. I’m hoping Netflix has one or both of these!

Thanks again!
.-= Katie´s last blog ..Mud Room: Finished! =-.

CashmereLibrarian April 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Oh, this is absolutely one of my favorite movies. I always kind of wanted to be Rebecca (yes, i know…she’s “bad.” But still…).

And I covet her bedroom, her dressing room, the morning room and her cottage!
.-= CashmereLibrarian´s last blog ..Husband’s Quote of the Day =-.

Susan April 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I was a du Maurier FREAK growing up! Rebecca was one of my all time favorites and I bet I’ve read it at least a dozen times. I’ve been waiting for this post ever since you slipped us a teaser a couple of times. Love this! Wish I could sit in the sun and read it again for maybe the 13th time!

Terri April 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

I love the Daphne du Maurier books, especially Rebecca.
I recently rented the movie “Finding Neverland” about the author of Peter Pan, Sir James M. Barrie. The inspiration for Peter Pan came from a widow with five boys with whom Barrie developed a close relationship. The widow was Sylvia Jocelyn Llewelyn Davies. Sylvia is the sister of Daphne and Angela du Maurier.
Thanks for the pictures and history of the movie!!!

Kimberlee J. April 12, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I love Mondays! :)

serenknitity April 12, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Loved this post! One of my fave films and books. Funnily enough, one rainy Saturday here in the UK recently I turned the TV on to find the Diana Rigg version – and I’d only missed a few minutes, and had never seen it before. Lucky me. I was sniffy at first (how could one trump Hitchcock’s version?) but was won over. That’s the sign of a great story – even the re-make is gripping.

I, too, would settle for the beach cottage (and it’s screaming for a makeover, which totally adds to its charms). And the morning room – swoon. I could imagine going in there with my laptop for a few happy hours every morning before taking the dogs out for a walk along the beach. Of course I’d have to get some dogs, too.
.-= serenknitity´s last blog ..I feel the earth move under my feet =-.

Emily@remodelingthislife April 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I have never even heard of this book or movie. I must live under a rock.

But, your post was captivating and I can’t wait to watch it now. You write so beautifully.
.-= Emily@remodelingthislife´s last blog ..Link Love: Spring is Definitely Here Edition =-.

Susan April 12, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Julia-I loved loved loved this post! Rebecca is one of my all time favorite books and movies. I rented it recently again and began wondering if the house was a real one. I too thought the idea of a morning room was so romantic and civilized–just a little place to catch up on correspondance and hide the dead wife’s broken bric brac :) Mrs Danvers is pure evil and I could never figure out how anybody could call her Danny! Love the info on Sanders–so like his character Favell! Do you happen to know if Hitchcock appears anywhere in the film? I know he liked to appear briefly in most of his films. I loved the bed and the linens, and the portrait gallery, and …you get the idea:) No other version can compare to this one! Thanks bunches!!!
.-= Susan´s last blog ..Tribute to a Strong Southern Woman =-.

Anita April 12, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Oh I was so excited to find this!! I have loved the movie and the book since I first saw the movie in the 8th grade!! I’m also crazy for Hitchcock and Olivier. I did not know the movie was filmed in the US. What an incredibly, informative post. I’ll be back!
.-= Anita ´s last blog ..Mother’s Noritake Chandova… =-.

peggy April 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm

One of my all-time favs which Turner Classic Movies shows regularly. Great info from your post. These kind of classics win over younger people all the time.

Amber April 14, 2010 at 4:04 pm

My 2nd favorite book ever, eafter Gone With the Wind! Thank you for doing this! I liked this movie, but I didn’t feel it did the book justice. I will have to check out the Masterpiece Theater version – I didn’t know there was one.
.-= Amber´s last blog ..good night, sweet boy =-.

Victoria April 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Love, love, love this movie! Amazing post! Also love the Ghost and Mrs. Muir have you also done a post on that movie?
.-= Victoria´s last blog ..European plaster is always a classic =-.

hookedonhouses April 15, 2010 at 5:17 pm


Sorry, but I haven’t covered the Ghost and Mrs. Muir. You can see the entire list here:


Thanks! -Julia :-)

Tara April 18, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I just came back to re-read this post because I just watched the movie for the first time with my husband tonight. The book was my absolute favorite as a teenager, like you said, I’ll never forget my delighted shock when the twist was revealed. I didn’t know there was a Masterpiece Theatre version, I’m definitely going to find that and watch it, too!

Jasmine April 20, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I’ve read the book as well as watched the movie. It’s a favorite!
Having a giveaway! Ends Thursday. L’oreal lash boosting serum http://all-things-beau-ti-ful.blogspot.com

Jean at The Delightful Repast April 21, 2010 at 9:18 am

Julia, this is a truly fabulous post! Rebecca is one of my favorite books and movies, and will keep me ever young–I feel like a teenager every time I revisit Rebecca. Like you, I envisioned myself going from breakfast into the morning room where I would catch up on my correspondence. Not quite so meek as “I” in the story, I would have of course dismissed Mrs. Danvers, and her warm and fuzzy replacement would bring me fresh pots of tea as my morning stretched out. I might have stretched out myself, on a chaise longue before the fire, on those days when my correspondence was especially taxing.

tammyCA April 21, 2010 at 10:55 am

Ah, “Rebecca” happens to be my favorite book! I discovered it by chance at the public library 28 yrs ago and remember the suspense in reading it & the surprises. I own the DVD Hitchcock version, but when I first saw the movie I didn’t like it much (Sorry, but Olivier seemed too stilted & miscast – maybe, he was better suited to stage), but it has grown on me and I do love the elaborate Hollywood sets…especially the long, billowy sheers blowing from the sea breeze. I tried to watch the British masterpiece version but fizzled out with time…maybe, I’ll try again. I think there was a British series version from the ’80s, too.

Suzy April 21, 2010 at 12:16 pm

This is one of my all-time favorites! I’m so glad someone is as mesmerized by it as I am.

Rebecca April 27, 2010 at 2:02 pm

My mom loved this house in Rebecca she almost named me Manderley. Luckily, she went with the title instead.

Alison April 28, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Thank you so much for covering this house! It is my absolute favorite movie ever! I much prefer the origina version over the Masterpiece Theater version.

ducdebrabant June 28, 2010 at 10:16 am

The movie is a great adaptation, and not a slavish one. It takes all the right liberties. For example, it combines two separate scenes in Rebecca’s bedroom, and lets Mrs. Danvers give the heroine (we never are told her name) that tour of the bedroom right after the dirty trick with the ball costume. In the book, the tour is earlier. The one thing I didn’t agree with was the shpiel about Rebecca’s underwear. They may have been trying to allude to the heroine’s earlier anxiety about the maids seeing her unglamorous underwear, but it’s just silly for Mrs. Danvers to tell us they were made especially for her by nuns. It reminds me of Ziegfeld’s publicity claim that nuns went blind beading Anna Held’s costumes.

If I’m not mistaken, the “pillow case” mentioned above, embroidered with Rebecca’s initial, was actually the slip containing Rebecca’s nightdress, which was always placed over her pillow.

Two things that are especially wonderful about the production design. One is the rich, diffused light always cascading into the rooms from these tall mullioned windows or French doors or what have you. Another is the way the rooms are always filled with big, elaborate floral arrangements. The arrangements in the vases are huge, fussy, professional-looking, aggressive, grand, as intimidating as Mussolini’s office. The centerpiece when Maxim and his bride dine together is too tall. The arrangement on a table beside a chair towers over whoever sits in the chair. There are several such arrangements in each room.

I too want Manderley, and the morning room, and the library and the cottage. I love the idea that you come down, dressed, at a certain hour and while you’re in the dining room or the morning room or the library, the servants are doing the rooms upstairs, that while you’re in the morning room they’re dusting the library, and while you’re in the library in the afternoon they’re dusting the morning room. I love the profligate breakfasts and teas, where you can’t eat a fraction of what is served. The only thing I wouldn’t like would be having to pause a private conversation when Robert or Frith enters the room to do something, and then resume it when the servant has gone.

I would love Mrs. Danvers leaving menus on my desk, and being able to cross something out, or fill in a sauce for the roast veal.

But what I wish some enterprising person would do would be to draw out some elaborate plans of Manderley — one of the house, another of the house and grounds, one of the entire estate, one of the whole neighborhood with Manderley in relationship to Kerrith, and Rebecca’s little bay and breakwater in relationship to Kerrith harbor and the reef where the ship runs aground in the fog about the middle of the book. I’d love to see meticulous plans and elevations, and even room plans with the furniture indicated. One day some obsessive and artistic fan of the book and/or movie is going to do all that. I hope it’s soon.

Vicki Efford March 15, 2011 at 11:28 am

You can get photos of her house under ‘Menabilly’ on google and the beach you are looking for is Pridmouth or Polridmouth beach in Cornwall. I spent many happy childhood days on that beach having no idea that it was in the book Rebecca.

Barbara July 6, 2010 at 11:37 am

I just finished reading Rebecca, and I have never seen the AH movie, which, now, I cannot wait to. Thanks, Julia for the photos–a great preview for me!

Richard Orton July 31, 2010 at 2:52 am

One of my favorite versions of Rebecca, one of my favorite movies, was done by Carol Burnett. If you’ve seen the original and like to laugh, check out “Rebecky”:


ArtSnark October 28, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Wonderful post. I linked to it on my Manderley Musings today : http://artsnark.blogspot.com/2010/10/last-night-i-dreamt-i-went-to-manderley.html

Crystal October 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for posting this. Rebecca is in my top 3 favorite movies of all time (split with It’s A Wonderful Life and Grease). I’ve always told my husband that if we should ever obtain our “dream home” on some acreage that I will name the property Manderley. :)

Scott Casey November 16, 2010 at 3:31 am

re: wanting a morning room — I’d have settled for the bedroom over the rose garden and the cold tea left outside the door. The novel is one of my favorites and I consider it a classic depiction of neurosis and twisted love: the heroine lives in fear like a child until she learns her husband is a killer, and then she finally grows up! I love it! The movie not so much, though it is entertaining and Anderson and Sanders excel. The miniseries I’ve only seen once, many years’ worth of cricket scores ago, but I seem to remember liking it. I once tried writing my own story about a Lady Lydreman who lived at the seaside estate of Tenidrew. Fans of anagrams should get the connection. Thanks for sharing the pictures and memories.

Virginia Williams January 13, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I’ve seen the movie “Rebecca” several times over the years and I just finished reading “Rebecca” for the second time (after an interval of several decades). The book now seems far more complex than I originally thought it and I find that I see Max de Winter and his second wife differently now… what a perfectly brilliant piece of literature with its many layers and ambiguities. So it was a great pleasure to come across your feature on Manderley. I was delighted by your long, loving look at the house, thank you so much! I am slowly turning a bedroom in my house into a “morning room” such as existed at Manderley – only it must serve as a partial library for me as well. There will not be a collection of valuable porcelain bibelots and there’s no fireplace, but the room does get sun streaming in in the morning! And of course the room is one-twentieth the size of Manderley’s and the ceiling nowhere as high… Thanks again for this!

gloria gauvin February 4, 2011 at 9:17 am

Hi just discovered your site and am loving it I have never done this before but wanted to comment on “Rebecca” as my favourite book and one of my favourite old movies Thank you for inspiring me to watch it again!
I also wondered that you haven’t included ” Gosford Park” or
“Remains of the Day” in your list as houses feature prominently in both movies
Thanks again Gloria

Vicki Efford March 15, 2011 at 11:24 am

I have discovered your site in the process of looking for photos of Menabilly. I am 70yrs old and live in Canada and I am writing my memoirs of living in England until the age of 18. When staying in Cornwall once when I was about 11 I had the opportunity of visiting Daphne DuMaurier’s property with some friends of my parents who were going to cut down some old trees. I had already read the book and as we drove in the front gates and up the driveway I realized that she was describing Manderley from her own property. I was so excited to be’ in the book’ and later wandered further up the drive way to the front of her house. As I was standing there someone looked out of the window at me and I ran off, scared of being caught. I have often wondered if it was Daphne herself and whether she remembers seeing a little wide eyed girl staring up at her house one lovely summer’s day.

Marcin September 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

Amazing post! I just finished reading Rebecca Thank you for posting this. Rebecca is in my top 3 favorite movies of all time

Marie July 15, 2012 at 1:41 am

Hi Thank you for your site. Just one wee bit of trivia regarding Vivian Leigh’s screen test fort he part of Mrs. De Winter: She didn’t have time to wash off all the makeup from the set of GWTW. The scrren test showed her ‘glamorous’ instead of the ‘shy, denure, plain Jane” type that was neeeded for the role. Joan Fontaine did a wonderful job in the role especially when she comes into her own peron and tells mrs. Danvers. “i am Mrs. Dde Winter now”
Thank you for all the back ground infor on the set design.

hookedonhouses July 15, 2012 at 7:49 am

Very interesting! Thanks, Marie!

Jim Beckwith August 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I am very fond of the original version of this picture and think that Judith Anderson played Mrs. Danvers to a “T” and that George Sanders as Jack Favell was spot on. That said, I like the later PBS version better in all respects save one: the power of the dead Rebecca of the novel is GREATLY diminished by showing her at all, either at a distance or just her mouth and eyes on film…these scenes should have ended up on the cutting-room floor and the director of this production should have known better.

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