It was my idea, after all. Lately as we’ve seen readers and filmgoers gobbling up great twisty psychological suspense such as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, I kept thinking they should make a fresh version Daphne Du Maurier’s classic tale of the devious anti-heroine known as My Cousin Rachel. Sixty-five years after its original publication, the book stands up extremely well, and makes a terrific suggestion for fans of gothic film and fiction including such modern descendants as Kate Morton, Sarah Waters, Lauren Forrey, Eleanor Wasserberg, Catronia Ward, John Harwood. I mean, it pretty much has it all – lush historical trappings, an irresistible villainess, passion, poison – and it is desperately overdue for a fresh version. Check out the trailer for this 1952 potboiler starring Olivia deHavilland and “bright new star” Richard Burton (“Was she woman, or witch!? Madonna or murderess!? … She gives men the promise of ecstasy, and a life of torment!”)
Hugely fun on a rainy Saturday afternoon, but we’re definitely ready for something a bit more contemporary. I can’t wait to see the new film with Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin, which looks gorgeous and treacherous, as it should:
Even if you’ve never read Daphne Du Maurier, you might already have enjoyed her works thanks to one of her most devoted fans: Alfred Hitchcock. The Birds was based on one of her short stories, and the 1939 film Jamaica Inn – generally seen today as less classic Hitchcock than as one more chance to see Charles Laughton do his thing – is adapted from another of her novels ( freshly adapted in the recent BBC miniseries of the same name). Du Maurier’s best known work, the highly influential (and immensely satisfying) romantic suspense novel Rebecca is still very much read today, gripping readers from its duly famous first line, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” There have been a couple of TV miniseries versions since the classic 1940 film starring Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine, but it has been 75 years since this beautifully unsettling tale has made it to the big screen. (Are you listening, Hollywood?) While we wait, treat yourself to Du Maurier’s brilliantly subtle short stories, many of which would – and probably some day will – make terrific movies. Check out one such adaptation that wasn’t made by Hitchcock, the brilliantly creepy cult classic 1973 film Don’t Look Now, starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. While the film doesn’t exactly exhibit the restrained, mounting tension that characterizes Du Maurier’s writing, it is very much worth seeing! Here’s a teaser:
– Posted by David W.