Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rebecca’ Is Getting A (Partial) Remake

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 8:13 am,

alfred hitchcock rebecca remake Alfred Hitchcocks Rebecca Is Getting A (Partial) Remake

In this age where Hollywood remakes and reboots reign triumphant, most everyone has been waiting for the inevitable announcement(s) about certain Best Picture Oscar-winning titles being refurbished for the 21st century. Sure enough, a revamping of My Fair Lady has been in the cards for a while – and now, we can add Alfred Hitchock’s 1940 psycho-drama/Noir tale Rebecca to that list (a list which could very well be growing longer in the future).

DreamWorks and Working Title Films are behind this new cinematic treatment of Daphne du Maurier’s original 1938 literary work. The project is tentatively being sold as more of a true re-interpretation of the source material (a la David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) rather than a direct reworking of Hitchcock’s film.

Variety reports that Oscar-nominee Steven Knight has been charged with the task of re-adapting Maurier’s original Rebecca novel. Knight is best known for penning the screenplays for acclaimed films like Stephen Frear’s dark social drama, Dirty Pretty Things, and David Cronenberg’s crime-thriller Eastern Promises. He also wrote an early script draft for the Shutter Island adaptation – which was not the final shooting script used by director Martin Scorsese – and has been earning early positive buzz for his adapted screenplay of Dan Brown’s latest best-selling Robert Langdon novel, The Lost Symbol.

That’s all to say: Knight boasts a pretty rock-solid writing resume and is as qualified as anyone to attempt to turn Maurier’s Rebecca source material into yet another captivating film, which revolves around a naive young woman who marries a wealthy widower – only to realize that her husband’s (deceased) ex-wife maintains a disturbing grip on not only his mindset, but also that of his devoted house servant.

However, the problem with DreamWork’s preliminary attempts to disassociate the Knight-scripted Rebecca from Hitchcock’s original movie is that the latter is a pretty faithful re-telling of Maurier’s novel – with the exception of one important plot point, which will not be spoiled here. In other words, Knight’s screenplay will have to deviate more significantly from Maurier’s source material in order to better distinguish the project from Hitchcock’s -unlike other upcoming projects that are part remake, but also part more loyal re-interpretation (ex. Total Recall).

joan fontaine laurence olivier rebecca Alfred Hitchcocks Rebecca Is Getting A (Partial) Remake

Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rebecca'

There have been multiple literature adaptations that have managed to throw in some clever plot complications without straying so far from the original novel’s narrative that the movie version feels entirely unrelated (The Woman in Black, being a recent example). Knight, as mentioned before, also isn’t on new ground here, as far as bringing a book to life on the big screen is concerned. So, that all bodes well for his ability to churn out a version of Rebecca that feels somewhat more original.

Similarly, while Hitchcock’s adaptation of Rebecca is well-renowned among cinephiles, it’s not really as widely-beloved and well-known outside of devoted film lover circles – especially when compared to other classic Best Picture Oscar winners like, say, Casablanca or The Godfather.

That technically qualifies Rebecca under our Top 5 Rules for Movie Remakes – in the sense that the Knight-scripted version of the story could be to Hitchcock’s what Scorsese’s Cape Fear is to director J. Lee Thompson’s – ie. a partial remake that still respects the original screen adaptation. Of course, that will also ultimately depend on whomever is brought onboard to direct the new cinematic take on Rebecca.

We will keep you up-to-date on the status of the new Rebecca as the story develops.

Source: Variety

TAGS: Rebecca
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  1. WHY?????????

  2. I am all for remakes but I think Psycho in 1998 showed that maybe you shouldn’t touch Hitchcock unless its more a re imagining like Disturbia.

    • Wasn’t that a total waste? First off the original was a classic that really couldn’t be improved upon. Then they shot it completely the same, but with different people and updated to the current time frame. I couldn’t figure why anyone threw their money in such a project. It was doomed from the start if that was their plan.

  3. I would love to see chris nolan get a crack at revamping this film, it could be something different for him to try, since he’s becameing a 21st centry alfred hitchcock movie by movie, and that an a good thing.

  4. I can’t find a reason I would want to see this. I have the Criterion edition of the 1940, Hitchcock-directed, Best Picture award-winner.

  5. It’s so strange…this was on the other night and I watched it with my mum and my husband and I said I was surprised they hadn’t remade it yet! I can’t see why they need to like with so many other classics but it seems people can’t watch black and white movies anymore. We did discuss who should get the parts though. Amy Adams is perfect for the “new” Mrs DeWinter (with no first name)if she can get the accent right (assuming this remake won’t be “in American”). Please just don’t let it be Kiera Knightly as that will even more insulting to the original than the fact that it is being remande! Dominic West would make an interesting Maxim or maybe Michael Fassbender. Danvers though – probably the most important character…she needs to be creepy and intense but not completely unattractive…Judi Dench maybe I can see her giving that devastating “even in the same dress you couldn’t compare” line. Give me a job in casting, now!

    • Very good points in this article. Given that “Rebecca” is my favorite Hitchcock, you’d think I would set fire to the studio rather than letting them happily remake it. However I’ve seen so many TV adaptations (including one with a ridiculous end twist that I won’t spoil here) that I’m willing to give this one a chance.

      Regarding casting, Eve makes some interesting suggestions. Notably Dominic West, whom I would watch in anything but who could be especially good at conveying the restrained yet effortless sex-appeal of Maxim (who can get the girl without even trying) combined with hints of a darker undercurrent. As for Mrs Danvers I see three possibilities, each of which could provide a unique take on the character: Helen Mirren, Tilda Swinton or, last but not least, Kristin Scott Thomas (not an obvious choice but I think her sinister yet subtly sensual vibe wouldn’t be so out of place, given the theories abounding about her character’s relationship to Rebecca).

      As for the second Mrs Danvers… Amy Adams could be good but might be considered too old (the girl is supposed to be in her early twenties if I recall right) though I wouldn’t mind watching the multi-talented Sarah Polley, who’s in the same age range, having a go at it. I haven’t kept track of Hollywood’s newest bunch but I keep hearing great things about Elisabeth Olsen and Jennifer Lawrence – though I have trouble picturing anyone but Joan Fontaine, who might have been “too pretty” for the part (compared to the novel at least) but gave an iconic performance that just can’t be topped IMO.

    • Not a bad pick, but I think Judi Dench is really overused in period pieces, plus she’s too old for Mrs. Danvers. I vote Tilda Swinton. To me, she would be Mrs. Danvers INCARNATE with the right makeup. I hope some movie casting person out there reads this!
      For Maxim, I vote Jude Law, who has not only the looks, but the right age AND the acting chops for portraying the brooding Maxim De Winter.
      Not sure who could play the heroine, Amy Adams is too old already (even if she looks younger) and has starred in too many hoaky movies for me to take her really seriously. I think Michelle Williams could pull it off.
      I also think they should avoid calling this a remake of the HITCHCOCK movie. They should simply make their own version of the novel, with their own twists, own ending, etc. I would love to see Rebecca onscreen in one or two well-placed flashbacks, nothing overdone since she should mostly remain a mystery. Perhaps towards the very end there should be a close-up a picture of her, or a few glimpses of her in Maxim’s narrative describing how she really died. I really hope they do this novel justice and leave out any sex scenes or violence.

  6. This movie, and novel, are such classics. They have a lot to live up to remaking this movie. I would hate to see Kiera Knightley or Amy Adams be cast as Mrs. De Winter. I think a fresh, unknown face would be best for Mrs. De Winter; or maybe someone like Mia Wasikowska. As for Mrs. Danvers, I think Tilda Swinton would give just the right bone chilling effect. Mr. De Winter is a more difficult choice but Johnny Depp is definitely out of the picture. It has to be someone that doesn’t have this obvious seductive air about them. Remember, a deathly shy 21 year old has to be able to confide in him. I’m puzzled over who should be cast as him…

  7. I believe Tony Goldwyn is very much Maxim de Winter. He’s made for the part!

  8. I’m rather curious and excited if done correctly. Everyone thinks this as a remake but they forget that the Hitchcock’s film is nothing more than a book-to-film adaption. Which in this day and age the saying goes: “The book was better than the movie.” But, by calling this film a needless remake is indeed lacking in common sense. Just like when everyone tried saying that David Fincher’s THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was a remake of the Swedish film. No, it was a closer interpretation of the novel unlike that beloved Swedish film was. If a remake to REBECCA were to happen then I hope they actually read the novel and produce the words written into real life. That’s all I ask.

  9. I think this is not a remake of a Hitchcock film, but, from the novel by Daphne du Maurier, “Rebecca”. Twice did this, but in format miniseries … I think it would be interesting, however, Amy Adams or even Keira Knightley, no longer correspond to old Mrs. de Winter in the work (which was 21 years old). I think Mia Wasikowska and Emma Watson have more to do with the “physic du role” of the character. As talk a lot of Ralph Fiennes as Maxim de Winter, but I think he is past 42 years that the book describes. Michael Fassbender or Richard Armitage, would be more in keeping with the character. Already, the role of the sinister Mrs. Danvers, Tilda Swinton would be perfect !!!