Alfred Hitchcock came to America on an exclusive contract with the famously controlling American producer David Selznick. Three of the four films from that strained partnership between the perfectionist British director and the micromanaging producer — Rebecca (1940), Spellbound (1945), and Notorious (1946) — arrive on Blu-ray and you can see the two creative personalities battle for control throughout.
The gloriously gothic melodrama Rebecca (MGM), a handsome marriage of the literate and the visual, remains their most financially successful collaboration and Hitchcock’s most studio-like film. Laurence Olivier delivers a fine performance as the haunted de Winter, still under the shadow of his controlling first wife even after she’s died, while Joan Fontaine’s naïve little girl in the big mansion is a bit precious but effective nonetheless. It’s an elegant production, beautifully photographed and designed like a dream house shrouded in mourning, but it also favors the pictorial over the cinematic and surface over subtext. Ironically, it’s Hitch’s only Oscar winner, and the Oscar went to producer Selznick; Hitch lost Best Director to John Ford for “The Grapes of Wrath.” Features commentary by film critic Richard Schickel, screen tests, two featurettes, three radio play adaptations, and archival audio interviews with Hitch.