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Even before Miss Daphne Dumaurier's days, there were rich men picking up poor girls in Monte Carlo, packing them off to some haunted castle in Scotland, braving slick villains and a heart-rending trial, and living happily ever after. Even before a novel by the name of "Rebecca" achieved best-seller fame, there was cheap literature.
But when a masterful director like Alfred Hitchcock and actors as capable as Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine do their best to make a tencent novelette plot credible, they produce an unwonted effect--that of serving cold stew on a golden platter. Hollywood's skillful technique has given a backneyed melodrama a chance to excite once again.
Joan Fontaine's performance as the young Mrs. Winter provides a wholesome whiff of sincerity in an atmosphere laden with sleazy pluto-romanticism. The other characters--including grave, moustached Mr. Oliveir--are the stereotyped masks which haunt every unsuccessful attempt at fiction. Readers of Miss Dumaurier's novel will notice to their amusement that under Mr. Hays' jurisdiction a husband does not shoot his wife, and that villains do not get away with their crimes as if there were neither justice nor morals in Hollywood.
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