Alfred Hitchcock and Cinematographer George Barnes used Deep Focus Photography in this film. And this is one of the few films to use Deep Focus Photography before Citizen Kane (1941). Hitchcock had also used Deep Focus Photography in his film Downhill (1927).
In the scripting process, Alfred Hitchcock made lots of changes with the character "Mrs. Danvers." Unlike the character in the novel, Hitchcock made Mrs. Danvers much younger and Hitchcock decided not to reveal her past.
David O. Selznick wanted the smoke from the burning Manderley to spell out a huge R. Alfred Hitchcock thought the touch lacked any subtlety. When Selznick was preoccupied by Gone with the Wind (1939), Hitchcock was able to replace the smoky R with the burning of a monogrammed lingerie case. He also edited the picture in the camera, a method of filmmaking that didn't allow Selznick the opportunity to re-edit the picture.
Robert Donat was one of Alfred Hitchcock's choices for the character Maxim de Winter.
Adaptation for the movie by Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan is based on the treatment written by Alfred Hitchcock, Alma Reville and Hogan.
In order to maintain the dark atmosphere of the book, Alfred Hitchcock insisted that the film be shot in black and white.
Due to the success of this film in Spain, the specific jackets that Joan Fontaine wears during the film began to be known as "rebecas". The word "rebeca" is still used nowadays to refer to this item of clothing.
# # David O. Selznick wanted Olivia de Havilland to play the female lead, but was faced with insurmountable problems: she was already committed to Samuel Goldwyn for Raffles (1939), Warner Bros. was being uncooperative about lending her out, and she was reluctant to accept the part because her sister, Joan Fontaine, was also under consideration for the part and her agent, Leland Hayward, was promoting his wife, Margaret Sullavan, for the role. Selznick also considered Loretta Young, Vivien Leigh, Anita Louise and Anne Baxter for the role, but felt that Young and Leigh were the wrong "type." He finally settled on Fontaine, but his staff disagreed with his decision because she was not yet an established star.
This was the first film Alfred Hitchcock made with David O. Selznick. Hitchcock worked with screenwriter Robert E. Sherwood and Hitchcock's assistant Joan Harrison in the scripting process. But he was dissatisfied almost from the beginning of the shoot with Selznick's controlling--some called it obsessive--manner of "producing".
Because Laurence Olivier wanted his then-girlfriend Vivien Leigh to play the lead role, he treated Joan Fontaine horribly. This shook Fontaine up quite a bit, so Alfred Hitchcock decided to capitalize on this by telling her EVERYONE on the set hated her, thus making her shy and uneasy - just what he wanted from her performance.
Anne Baxter was one of the actresses tested by Alfred Hitchcock for the leading role. He later cast her in I Confess (1953).
In 1944, Edwina Levin MacDonald sued David O. Selznick, Daphne Du Maurier, United Artists and Doubleday for plagiarism. She claimed that the film was based on her novel "Blind Windows", and sought an undisclosed amount of damages.
The novel was bought by David O. Selznick for $50,000 as a vehicle for Carole Lombard with the idea that he would attempt to get Ronald Colman for the male lead. According to Selznick's memos, when Colman put off accepting the part because he was afraid that the picture would be a "woman starring vehicle" and because of the murder angle, Selznick turned to his second choices for the role, Laurence Olivier and William Powell. Olivier was willing to work for $100,000 less than Powell and so he was chosen. Leslie Howard was also considered for the part.
Rebecca's handwriting was done by Helen Amigo.
In her autobiography, 'Maureen O'Hara' states that she was the first choice for the lead role.
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