United Artists Corporation doing business as United Artists Digital Studios, is an American film and television entertainment studio. Founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, the studio was premised on allowing actors to control their own interests, rather than being dependent upon commercial studios. UA was bought and restructured over the ensuing century; the current United Artists company exists as a successor to the original. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired the studio in 1981 for a reported $350 million. On September 22, 2014, MGM acquired a controlling interest in Mark Burnett and Roma Downey's entertainment companies One Three Media and Lightworkers Media merged them to revive United Artists' TV production unit as United Artists Media Group. However, on December 14 of the following year, MGM wholly acquired UAMG and folded it into MGM Television. UA was revived yet again in 2018 as United Artists Digital Studios. Mirror, the joint distribution venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures was renamed as United Artists Releasing in early February 2019 just in time for UA's 100th anniversary.
Pickford, Chaplin and Griffith incorporated UA as a joint venture on February 5, 1919. Each held a 25 percent stake in the preferred shares and a 20 percent stake in the common shares of the joint venture, with the remaining 20 percent of common shares held by lawyer and advisor William Gibbs McAdoo; the idea for the venture originated with Fairbanks, Chaplin and cowboy star William S. Hart a year earlier. Hollywood veterans, the four stars talked of forming their own company to better control their own work, they were spurred on by established Hollywood producers and distributors who were tightening their control over actor salaries and creative decisions, a process that evolved into the studio system. With the addition of Griffith, planning began; when he heard about their scheme, Richard A. Rowland, head of Metro Pictures said, "The inmates are taking over the asylum." The four partners, with advice from McAdoo, formed their distribution company. Hiram Abrams was its first managing director, the company established its headquarters at 729 Seventh Avenue in New York City.
The original terms called for each star to produce five pictures a year. By the time the company was operational in 1921, feature films were becoming more expensive and polished, running times had settled at around ninety minutes; the original goal was thus abandoned. UA's first film, His Majesty, the American, written by and starring Fairbanks, was a success. Funding for movies was limited. Without selling stock to the public like other studios, all United had for finance was weekly prepayment installments from theater owners for upcoming movies; as a result, production was slow, the company distributed an average of only five films a year in its first five years. By 1924, Griffith had dropped out, the company was facing a crisis. Veteran producer Joseph Schenck was hired as president, he had produced pictures for a decade, brought commitments for films starring his wife, Norma Talmadge, his sister-in-law, Constance Talmadge, his brother-in-law, Buster Keaton. Contracts were signed with independent producers, including Samuel Goldwyn, Howard Hughes.
In 1933, Schenck organized a new company with Darryl F. Zanuck, called Twentieth Century Pictures, which soon provided four pictures a year, forming half of UA's schedule. Schenck formed a separate partnership with Pickford and Chaplin to buy and build theaters under the United Artists name, they began international operations, first in Canada, in Mexico. By the end of the 1930s, United Artists was represented in over 40 countries; when he was denied an ownership share in 1935, Schenck resigned. He set up 20th Century Pictures' merger with Fox Film Corporation to form 20th Century Fox. Al Lichtman succeeded Schenck as company president. Other independent producers distributed through United Artists in the 1930s including Walt Disney Productions, Alexander Korda, Hal Roach, David O. Selznick, Walter Wanger; as the years passed, the dynamics of the business changed, these "producing partners" drifted away. Samuel Goldwyn Productions and Disney went to Wanger to Universal Pictures. In the late 1930s, UA turned a profit.
Goldwyn was providing most of the output for distribution. He sued United several times for disputed compensation leading him to leave. MGM's 1939 hit Gone with the Wind was supposed to be a UA release except that Selznick wanted Clark Gable, under contract to MGM, to play Rhett Butler; that year, Fairbanks died. UA became embroiled in lawsuits with Selznick over his distribution of some films through RKO. Selznick considered UA's operation sloppy, left to start his own distribution arm. In the 1940s, United Artists was losing money because of poorly received pictures. Cinema attendance continued to decline; the company sold its Mexican releasing division to Crédito Cinematográfico Mexicano, a local company. In 1941, Chaplin, Orson Welles, Selznick, Alexander Korda, Wanger—many of whom were members of United Artists--formed the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers. Members included Hunt Stromberg, William Cagney, Sol L
George Henry Sanders was a British film and television actor, singer-songwriter, music composer, author. His career as an actor spanned over forty years, his upper-class English accent and bass voice led him to be cast as sophisticated but villainous characters. He is best known as Jack Favell in Rebecca, Scott ffolliott in Foreign Correspondent, Addison DeWitt in All About Eve, for which he won an Academy Award, Sir Brian De Bois-Guilbert in Ivanhoe, King Richard the Lionheart in King Richard and the Crusaders, Mr. Freeze in a two-parter episode of Batman, the voice of the malevolent man-hating tiger Shere Khan in Disney's The Jungle Book, as Simon Templar, "The Saint", in five films made in the 1930s and 1940s. Sanders was born in Russian Empire, at number 6 Petrovski Ostrov, his parents were Henry Peter Ernest Sanders, Margarethe Jenny Bertha Sanders, born in Saint Petersburg, of German, but Estonian and Scottish, ancestry. A biography published in 1990 claimed that Sanders's father was the illegitimate son of a prince of the House of Oldenburg and a Russian noblewoman of the Czar’s court, married to a sister of the Czar.
The actor Tom Conway was George Sanders's elder brother. Their younger sister, Margaret Sanders, was born in 1912. In 1917, at the outbreak of the Russian Revolution and his family moved to England. Like his brother, he attended Bedales School and Brighton College, a boys' independent school in Brighton went on to Manchester Technical College after which he worked in textile research. Sanders travelled to South America; the Depression sent him back to England. He worked at an advertising agency, where the company secretary, the aspiring actress Greer Garson, suggested that he take up a career in acting. Sanders learned how to sing and got a role on stage in Ballyhoo, which only had a short run but helped establish him as an actor, he began to work on the British stage, appearing several times with Edna Best. He co-starred with Dennis King in The Command Performance, he appeared in a British film, Love and Laughter. Sanders travelled to New York to appear on Broadway in a production of Noël Coward's Conversation Piece, directed by Coward, which only ran 55 performances.
He returned to England, where he had small parts in films like Things to Come, Strange Cargo, Find the Lady, The Man Who Could Work Miracles, Dishonour Bright. Some of these British films were distributed by 20th Century Fox who were looking for an actor to play a villain in their Hollywood-shot film Lloyd's of London. Sanders was duly cast as Lord Everett Stacy, opposite Tyrone Power, in one of his first leads, as the hero. Lloyds of London was a big hit and in November 1936 Fox put Sanders under a seven-year contract. Fox cast him opposite Power again in Love Is News he supported Wallace Beery in Slave Ship and Gloria Stuart in The Lady Escapes. Public response to Sanders had been strong, so Fox gave him his first heroic lead, in the B picture Lancer Spy with Dolores del Rio, he and del Rio were promptly reteamed in International Settlement. Sanders was second-billed in John Ford's Four Men and a Prayer, Fox had him play a villain in Mr. Moto's Last Warning. Sanders returned to Britain to make The Outsider for Associated British Picture Corporation and So This Is London for Fox.
Sanders returned to Hollywood where RKO wanted him to play the hero in a series of B-movies, The Saint. The Saint in New York had been made starring Louis Hayward in the title role, but when he decided not to return to the role Sanders took over for The Saint Strikes Back. After playing an American Nazi in Confessions of a Nazi Spy for Warners, Sanders was The Saint in London. For RKO he was a villain in Nurse Edith Cavell, as German, with Anna Neagle and Allegheny Uprising, with John Wayne, he played a double role in The Saint's Double Trouble went to Universal for Green Hell and The House of the Seven Gables. Alfred Hitchcock wanted him for a supporting role in a huge success. After The Saint Takes Over, Hitchcock used him again in Foreign Correspondent. MGM used him as a villain in Bitter Sweet and he performed a similar function for Edward Small in The Son of Monte Cristo. Sanders made his last appearance as Simon Templar in The Saint in Palm Springs MGM called him back for Rage in Heaven, an early film noir, playing the trustworthy good guy whose best friend, Robert Montgomery, goes murderously insane and sets him up for the rap. Sanders was a villain in Man Hunt but heroic in Sundown.
RKO had been fighting with Leslie Charteris, creator of The Saint, so they stopped the series and put Sanders in a new B picture series about a suave crime fighter, The Falcon. The first entry was The Gay Falcon, it was popular and followed by A Date with the Falcon. At Fox he was in Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake with Tyrone Power it was back to The Falcon Takes Over, based on Farewell, My Lovely. MGM used him in Her Cardboard Lover and he was one of several stars in Tales of Manhattan. Sanders was tiring of The Falcon, so he handed the role to his brother Tom, in T
Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist best known for his work as a newspaper columnist and film actor. From his beginnings at The Harvard Lampoon while attending Harvard University, through his many years writing essays and articles for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and his acclaimed short films, Benchley's style of humor brought him respect and success during his life, from his peers at the Algonquin Round Table in New York City to contemporaries in the burgeoning film industry. Benchley is best remembered for his contributions to The New Yorker, where his essays, whether topical or absurdist, influenced many modern humorists, he made a name for himself in Hollywood, when his short film How to Sleep was a popular success and won Best Short Subject at the 1935 Academy Awards. He made many memorable appearances acting in films such as Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent and Nice Girl?. His legacy includes written work and numerous short film appearances. Robert Benchley was born on September 15, 1889, in Worcester, the second son of Maria Jane and Charles Henry Benchley.
They were of Northern Irish and Welsh descent both from colonial stock. His brother Edmund was thirteen years older. Benchley was known for writing elaborately misleading and fictional autobiographical statements about himself, his father served in the army for two years during the Civil War and had a four-year hitch in the Navy, before settling again in Worcester and marrying. He worked as a town clerk. Benchley's ancestors included his grandfather Henry Wetherby Benchley, a member of the Massachusetts Senate and Lieutenant Governor in the mid-1850s, he went to Houston and became an activist for the Underground Railroad, where he was arrested and jailed for this. Robert's older brother, was a 4th year cadet at West Point in 1898 when the Secretary of War ordered that his class be graduated early to support preparations for the Spanish–American War. Edmund was assigned to active duty as second lieutenant to the 6th Infantry Regiment. In Cuba in the summer of 1898, the 6th Infantry was part of Kent's 1st Division and Shafter's 5th Corps.
The 1st Division fought in the 1 July 1898 Battle of San Juan Hill. The Division was brought up to the base of San Juan Hill as the left-most division. Edmund was killed when sent back down a trail swept by Spanish rifle fire to the retrieve lost soldiers left to the rear of the Regiment when it crossed the San Juan River. According to a report by Harry C. Egbert, the commanding officer of the 6th Infantry, "Even on this trail, the troops were annoyed by the fire of the enemy coming from the heights far over behind my left, which continuously swept the valley in the rear of my line and caused the loss of a most promising young officer, Lieutenant Benchley, Sixth Infantry, whom I had sent back across the river to bring up an men who might have been scattered in the underbrush, he was shot dead." Edmund's Company Commander, Captain Kennon wrote, "My lieutenants left nothing to be desired... Lieutenant Benchley was as brave as he could be, died while gallantly performing important and dangerous duty under Colonel Egbert's orders."
News of Edmund's death did not reach the Benchley family until they were attending a public Fourth of July picnic when a bicycle messenger brought the notification telegram. In unthinking, stunned reaction, Maria Benchley cried out, "Why couldn't it have been Robert?!", while the latter, nine years old, was standing by her side. Mrs. Benchley tried hard to atone for the remark. Edmund's death had considerable effects on Robert's life. Edmund's fiancée Lillian Duryea, a wealthy heiress, took an interest in Robert and aided him, it is believed. The period, was full of strong literary reactions to the Great War, Benchley was aware of, for instance, the anti-war writings of A. A. Milne. Robert Benchley met Gertrude Darling in high school in Worcester, they became engaged during his senior year at Harvard University, they married in June 1914. Their first child, Nathaniel Benchley, was born a year later. A second son, Robert Benchley, Jr. was born in 1919. Nathaniel became a writer, published a biography of his father in 1955.
He was a well-respected fiction and children's book author. Nathaniel married and had talented sons who became writers: Peter Benchley was best known for the book Jaws, Nat Benchley wrote and performed in an acclaimed one-man production based on their father Robert's life. Robert grew up and attended school in Worcester and was involved in academic and traveling theatrical productions during high school. Thanks to financial aid from his late brother's fiancée, Lillian Duryea, he could attend Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire for his final year of high school. Benchley reveled in the atmosphere at the Academy, he remained active in creative extracurricular activities, thereby damaging his academic credentials toward the end of his term. Benchley wrote his senior thesis on “How to Embalm a Corpse.” Thus began a lifelong penchant for laughing at death. Benchley enrolled at Harvard University in 1908, again with Duryea's financial help, he joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity in his first year, continued to partake in the camaraderie that he had enjoyed at Phillips Exeter while still doing well in school.
He did well in his English and government classes. His humor and style began to reveal themselves during this time: Benchl
Joan Harrison (screenwriter)
Joan Harrison was an English screenwriter and producer for motion pictures and television. Born in Guildford, Harrison studied at St Hugh's College and reviewed films for the student newspaper, she studied at the Sorbonne. In 1933, she became Alfred Hitchcock's secretary, she began reading books and scripts for him and became one of Hitchcock's most trusted associates. Harrison appears in a scene in Hitchcock's original version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, eating dinner with Peter Lorre's character, she was among the screenwriters for the film Jamaica Inn based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier. When Hitchcock moved to Hollywood in March 1939 to begin his contract with David O. Selznick to direct films, Harrison went with him as an assistant and writer, she continued contributing to the screenplays for Hitchcock's films Rebecca adapted from a du Maurier novel, Foreign Correspondent and Saboteur. She was credited as one of the screenwriters for Dark Waters. Harrison was an uncredited screenwriter for Ride Your Witness.
She became a film producer with Phantom Lady, produced such films as The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, Ride the Pink Horse, They Won't Believe Me. At the time, she was one of only three female producers in Hollywood, the others being Virginia Van Upp and Harriet Parsons. Harrison worked in television with Hitchcock together with Norman Lloyd when she produced his TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, she and Lloyd were producers on the Hammer TV anthology Journey to the Unknown, which ran for a single season in 1968. Harrison married author Eric Ambler in 1958 and remained married to him until her death in 1994. Jamaica Inn - writer Rebecca - writer Foreign Correspondent - writer Suspicion - writer Saboteur - writer Dark Waters - writer Phantom Lady - producer The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry - producer Nocturne - producer, uncredited writer They Won't Believe Me - producer Ride the Pink Horse - producer, writer Once More, My Darling - producer Your Witness - producer, uncredited writer Circle of Danger - producer Schlitz Playhouse - episode "Double Exposure" - writer Janet Dean, Registered Nurse - producer Alfred Hitchcock Presents - producer Schlitz Playhouse - episode "The Travelling Corpse" - producer Suspicion - producer Startime - episode "Incident at a Corner" - producer Alcoa Premiere - episode "The Jail" - producer The Alfred Hitchcock Hour - producer Journey Into Fear - producer Journey to the Unknown - producer Love Hate Love - producer The Most Deadly Game - producer Joan Harrison on IMDb
Budd Schulberg was an American screenwriter, television producer and sports writer. He was known for his 1941 novel, What Makes Sammy Run?, his 1947 novel The Harder They Fall, his 1954 Academy Award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, his 1957 screenplay for A Face in the Crowd. Schulberg was raised in a Jewish family the son of Hollywood film-producer B. P. Schulberg and Adeline Schulberg, who founded a talent agency taken over by her brother, agent/film producer Sam Jaffe. In 1931, when Schulberg was 17, his father left the family to live with actress Sylvia Sidney, his parents divorced in 1933. Schulberg attended Deerfield Academy and went on to Dartmouth College, where he was involved in the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern humor magazine and was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. In 1939, he collaborated on the screenplay for a light comedy set at Dartmouth. One of his collaborators was F. Scott Fitzgerald, fired because of his alcoholic binge during a visit with Schulberg to Dartmouth.
Dartmouth College awarded Schulberg an honorary degree in 1960. While serving in the Navy during World War II, Schulberg was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, working with John Ford's documentary unit. Following VE Day, he was among the first American servicemen to liberate the Nazi concentration camps, he was involved in gathering evidence against war criminals for the Nuremberg Trials, an assignment that included arresting documentary film maker Leni Riefenstahl at her chalet in Kitzbühel, ostensibly to have her identify the faces of Nazi war criminals in German film footage captured by the Allied troops. Riefenstahl claimed. According to Schulberg, "She gave me dance, she said,'Of course, you know, I'm so misunderstood. I'm not political'". Being the son of a successful Hollywood producer gave Schulberg an insider's viewpoint on the true happenings of Hollywood, his literature and film reflected this, his most famed writing What Makes Sammy Run? Allowed the public to see the harshness of Hollywood stardom via Sammy Glick's Cinderella story that does not end ever after.
This novel was criticized by some as being self-directed anti-semitism. In 1950, Schulberg published The Disenchanted, about a young screenwriter who collaborates on a screenplay about a college winter festival with a famous novelist at the nadir of his career; the novelist is portrayed as a tragic and flawed figure, with whom the young screenwriter becomes disillusioned. The novel was the 10th bestselling novel in the United States in 1950 and was adapted as a Broadway play in 1958, starring Jason Robards and George Grizzard as the character loosely based on Schulberg. In 1958, Schulberg wrote and co-produced the film Wind Across the Everglades, directed by Nicholas Ray. Schulberg wrote. Based on the short story in his book Some Faces in the Crowd, the film starred newcomer Andy Griffith as an obscure country singer who rises to fame and becomes extraordinarily manipulative to preserve his success and power. Schulberg encountered political controversy in 1951 when screenwriter Richard Collins, testifying to the House Un-American Activities Committee, named Schulberg as a former member of the Communist Party.
Schulberg testified as a friendly witness that Party members had sought to influence the content of What Makes Sammy Run? and "named names" of other Hollywood communistsSchulberg was a sports writer and former chief boxing correspondent for Sports Illustrated. He wrote some well received books including Sparring with Hemingway, he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002 in recognition of his contributions to the sport. In 1965, after a devastating riot had ripped apart the fabric of the Watts section of Los Angeles, Schulberg formed the Watts Writers Workshop in an attempt to ease frustrations and bring artistic training to the economically impoverished district. In 1982, Schulberg wrote Moving Pictures, Memoirs of a Hollywood Prince, an autobiography covering his youth in Hollywood growing up in the'20s and'30s among the famous motion picture actors and producers as the son of B. P. Schulberg, head of Paramount Studios. Schulberg was married four times. In 1936, he married actress Virginia "Jigee" Lee Ray.
They had one daughter, before divorcing in 1942. In 1943, he married Victoria "Vickee" Anderson, they divorced in 1964. They had two children: David. David was a Vietnam veteran. In 1964, he married actress Geraldine Brooks, they were married until her death in 1977. In 1977, he married Betsy Ann Langman, granddaughter of investment banker Maurice Wertheim and great-granddaughter of US ambassador Henry Morgenthau Sr.. His niece Sandra Schulberg was an executive producer of the Academy Award nominated film Quills, among other movies, his mother, of The Ad Schulberg Agency, served as his agent until her death in 1977. His brother, Stuart Schulberg, was a television producer, his sister, Sonya Schulberg was an occasional writer. Budd Schulberg died in his home in Quiogue, New York, aged 95. A Star is Born - uncredited writer Nothing Sacred - uncredited writer On the Waterfront - story, script A Face in the Crowd (
Ben Hecht was an American screenwriter, producer, playwright and novelist. A journalist in his youth, he went on to write 35 books and some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America, he received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films. At the age of 16, Hecht ran away to Chicago, where, in his own words, he "haunted streets, police stations, theater stages, saloons, madhouses, murders, banquet halls, bookshops". In the 1910s and early 1920s, Hecht became a noted journalist, foreign correspondent, literary figure. In the 1920s, his co-authored, reporter-themed play, The Front Page, became; the Dictionary of Literary Biography - American Screenwriters calls him "one of the most successful screenwriters in the history of motion pictures". Hecht received the first Academy Award for Best Story for Underworld. Many of the screenplays he worked on are now considered classics, he provided story ideas for such films as Stagecoach. Film historian Richard Corliss called him "the Hollywood screenwriter", someone who "personified Hollywood itself".
In 1940, he wrote and directed Angels Over Broadway, nominated for Best Screenplay. In total, six of his movie screenplays were nominated with two winning, he became an active Zionist shortly before the Holocaust began in Germany, wrote articles and plays about the plight of European Jews, such as We Will Never Die in 1943 and A Flag is Born in 1946. Of his seventy to ninety screenplays, he wrote many anonymously to avoid the British boycott of his work in the late 1940s and early 1950s; the boycott was a response to Hecht's active support of paramilitary action against British forces in Palestine and sabotaging British property there, during which time a supply ship to Palestine was named the S. S. Ben Hecht. According to his autobiography, he never spent more than eight weeks on a script. In 1983, 19 years after his death, Ben Hecht was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Hecht was born in the son of Belarusian Jewish immigrants, his father, Joseph Hecht, worked in the garment industry.
His father, mother Sarah Swernofsky Hecht, had immigrated to New York from Minsk, Belarus. The Hechts married in 1892; the family moved to Racine, where Ben attended high school. When Hecht was in his early teens, he would spend the summers with an uncle in Chicago. On the road much of the time, his father did not have much effect on Hecht's childhood, his mother was busy managing a store in downtown Racine. Film author Scott Siegal wrote, "He was considered a child prodigy at age ten on his way to a career as a concert violinist, but two years was performing as a circus acrobat."After graduating from Racine High School in 1910, Hecht moved to Chicago, running away to live there permanently. He lived with relatives, started a career in journalism, he found work as a reporter, first for the Chicago Journal, with the Chicago Daily News. He was an excellent reporter. After World War I, Hecht was sent to cover Berlin for the Daily News. There he wrote Erik Dorn, it was a sensational debut for Hecht as a serious writer.
The 1969 movie, Gaily, directed by Norman Jewison and starring Beau Bridges as "Ben Harvey", was based on Hecht's life during his early years working as a reporter in Chicago. The film was nominated for three Oscars; the story was taken from a portion of A Child of the Century. From 1918 to 1919, Hecht served as war correspondent in Berlin for the Chicago Daily News. According to Barbara and Scott Siegel, "Besides being a war reporter, he was noted for being a tough crime reporter while becoming known in Chicago literary circles."In 1921, Hecht inaugurated a Daily News column called, One Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago. While it lasted, the column was enormously influential, his editor, Henry Justin Smith said it represented a new concept in journalism: the idea that just under the edge of the news as understood, the news flatly unimaginatively told, lay life. He was going to be its interpreter, his was to be the lens throwing city life into new colors, his the microscope revealing its contortions in life and death.
While at the Chicago Daily News, Hecht famously broke the 1921 "Ragged Stranger Murder Case" story, about the murder of Carl Wanderer's wife, which led to the trial and execution of war hero Carl Wanderer. In Chicago, he met and befriended Maxwell Bodenheim, an American poet and novelist known as the King of Greenwich Village Bohemians, with whom he became a lifelong friend. After concluding One Thousand and One Afternoons, Hecht went on to produce novels, plays and memoirs, but none of these eclipsed his early success in finding the stuff of literature in city life. Recalling that period, Hecht wrote, "I haunted streets, police stations, theater stages, saloons, madhouses, murders, banquet halls, bookshops. I ran everywhere in the city like a fly buzzing in the works of a clock, tasted more than any fit belly could hold, learned not to sleep, buried myself in a tick-tock of whirling hours that still echo in me." Besides working as reporter in Chicago, "he contributed to literary magazines including the Little Review.
Rebecca (1940 film)
Rebecca is a 1940 American romantic psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It was Hitchcock's first American project, his first film under contract with producer David O. Selznick; the screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison, adaptation by Philip MacDonald and Michael Hogan, were based on the 1938 novel of the same name by Daphne du Maurier; the film stars Laurence Olivier as the brooding, aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter and Joan Fontaine as the young woman who becomes his second wife, with Judith Anderson, George Sanders and Gladys Cooper in supporting roles. The film won the 1940 Oscar for Best Picture; the film is a gothic tale shot in black-and-white. Maxim de Winter's first wife Rebecca, who died before the events of the film, is never seen, her reputation and recollections of her, are a constant presence in the lives of Maxim, his new wife and the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. Rebecca won Best Picture and Best Cinematography, out of a total 11 nominations. Olivier and Anderson were Oscar-nominated for their respective roles as were Hitchcock and the screenwriters.
An inexperienced young woman meets aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter, soon becomes the second Mrs. de Winter. Maxim takes his new bride back to his grand mansion by the sea, dominated by its housekeeper Mrs. Danvers, a chilly individual, a close confidante of the first Mrs. De Winter - Rebecca - with whom she is still obsessed, she has preserved Rebecca’s bedroom suite unchanged, continues to display various items that carry her monogram. Her constant reminders of Rebecca’s glamour and sophistication convince the new Mrs. de Winter that Maxim is still in love with his first wife, that this could explain his irrational outbursts of anger. She tries to please her husband by holding a costume party. Danvers advises her to copy the dress, but when she appears in the costume, Maxim is appalled. Mrs. de Winter confronts Danvers about this, but Danvers tells her she can never take Rebecca's place, persuades her to jump to her death. At that moment, the alarm is raised because a sunken boat has been found with Rebecca's body in it.
Maxim now confesses to his wife that his first marriage had been a sham from the start, when Rebecca had declared that she had no intention of keeping to her vows, but would just pretend to be the perfect wife and hostess for the sake of appearances. When she claimed she was pregnant by another man, she taunted him that the estate might pass to someone not of Maxim’s line. During a heated argument, she struck her head and died. To conceal the truth, Maxim took the body out in a boat, which he scuttled, identified another body as Rebecca’s; the sudden crisis causes the second Mrs. de Winter to shed her naive ways, as they plan how to prove Maxim’s innocence. When the police say it looks like suicide, Rebecca’s lover threatens to reveal that she had never been suicidal, unless Maxim pays blackmail; when Maxim goes to the police, they suspect him of murder, but investigation shows that she was not pregnant, but close to death from cancer, so the suicide verdict stands. In fact, Rebecca had been trying to goad Maxim into killing her - indirect suicide - so that Maxim would have been ruined hanged.
A free man, Maxim returns home to see the great house on fire, set ablaze by the deranged Mrs. Danvers. All escape except Danvers, when the ceiling collapses on her; the film ends with an R-monogrammed nightdress-case consumed by flames. Hitchcock's cameo appearance, a signature feature of his films, takes place near the end. At Selznick's insistence, the film faithfully adapts the plot of du Maurier's novel Rebecca. However, at least one plot detail was altered to comply with the Hollywood Production Code, which said that the murder of a spouse had to be punished. In the novel, Maxim shoots Rebecca, while in the film, he only thinks of killing her as she taunted him into believing that she was pregnant with another man's child, her subsequent death is accidental. However, Rebecca was not pregnant but had incurable cancer and had a motive to commit suicide, that of punishing Maxim from beyond the grave. Therefore, her death is declared a suicide, not murder. Hitchcock said that Selznick wanted the smoke from the burning Manderley to spell out a huge "R", which Hitchcock thought lacked subtlety.
While Selznick was preoccupied by Gone with the Wind, Hitchcock was able to replace the smoky "R" with the burning of a monogrammed négligée case lying atop a bed pillow. Hitchcock edited the film "in camera" to restrict the producer's power to re-edit the picture, but Selznick relished the post-production process. Rewrites and reshooting were called for after a rough cut was previewed on December 26, 1939. Although Selznick insisted that the film be faithful to the novel, Hitchcock did make some other changes, though not as many as he had made in a rejected screenplay, in which he altered the entire story. In the novel, Mrs. Danvers is something of a jealous mother figure, her past is mentioned in the book, but in the film, Mrs. Danvers is a much younger character, her past is not revealed at