Rebecca, from 1940, was produced by David O. Selznick, and stars Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, George Sanders, and Judith Anderson.
The film won two Academy Awards, including Best Picture, out of 11 nominations and Olivier, Fontaine and Anderson were all Oscar nominated for their respective roles.
This was Hitchcock’s first Hollywood film after he moved here from England. And it was the only Hitchcock film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
David O. Selznick produced over 80 films, including Gone With the Wind, A Farewell to Arms, Spellbound, & King Kong. He was famous in Hollywood for his long, detailed memos that he sent to pretty much anyone who had anything to do with one of his pictures.
A publicist on one of his films once got a Western Union telegram from Selznick that ended up being more than 30 feet long.
The nearly 10-meter telegram finished up with, "I have just received a phone call that pretty much clears up this matter. Therefore, you can disregard this wire."
He is the only producer to ever win back-to-back Academy Award for Best Picture for Gone with the Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940).
Laurence Olivier, playing Maxim de Winter, was nominated 13 times for the Academy Award - 9 times as Best Actor, once as Best Supporting Actor, twice for Best Picture, and once as Best Director.
Over 20 actresses tested for the role of Mrs. de Winter, including Vivien Leigh and Margaret Sullavan, but it eventually went to newcomer Joan Fontaine.
Vivien Leigh at that time was Olivier’s girlfriend and when she didn’t get the part, Olivier treated Fontaine terribly when filming started. This really rattled Fontaine and director Hitchcock decided to capitalize on this.
So he told Fontaine that everyone on the set hated her, which made her shy and uneasy - just what he wanted for her performance.
Olivier tried for the part of Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather by perfecting an Italian accent and was signed to play the part. But at the last minute he got sick and was replaced by Marlon Brando.
He was the first actor nominated for an acting Oscar in five different decades, from the 1930s through the 1970s.
Joan Fontaine, the second Mrs. De Winter, was born Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland and her older sister was actress Olivia de Havilland. Relations between Fontaine and her sister Olivia de Havilland were strained from early childhood.
When Olivia was 9, she made a will in which she stated "I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister Joan, since she has none."
Both became actors and, in 1941, their relationship only got worse, when they were both nominated for best actress Academy Awards.
Their mutual dislike and jealousy escalated into an all-out feud after Fontaine won for her role in Suspicion over her sister’s performance in Gone With The Wind.
They were the first sisters to win Oscars and the first ones to be Oscar-nominated in the same year. Fontaine became the only actor or actress to win an acting Oscar in an Alfred Hitchcock film when she won Best Actress for Hitchcock's Suspicion.
Despite the fact that de Havilland went on to win two Academy Awards of her own, they remained permanently estranged, rarely even speaking to each other.
Leo G. Carroll, playing the London doctor, has the distinction of playing in more Hitchcock films than any other actor except Hitchcock himself. Born to a wealthy English Catholic family, he was named after the reigning Pope at the time of his birth, Leo XIII, and is probably best-known as Cosmo Topper from the old TV series and as spymaster Alexander Waverly on the TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
George Sanders, Rebecca’s “cousin” Jack, played mostly villains and charming heels in his 40 year career. He was married 4 times, and two of his ex-wives were sisters: Magda and Zsa Zsa Gabor.
He won an Academy Award in 1950 for Best Supporting Actor in All About Eve. In 1937, Sanders told David Niven that he intended to commit suicide when he got older.
In 1972, he fulfilled his promise, leaving this note: "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck."
C. Aubrey Smith, playing Col. Julyan, was born in London, England and was a famous cricket player. He moved to South Africa to prospect for gold and while prospecting, developed pneumonia and was pronounced dead by doctors.
Problem was, the doctors were wrong and he wasn’t dead, just in a coma.
After coming back to life, he understandably left Africa and returned to England, where he decided to become an actor. He made his stage debut at the age of 30 and later got into the movies.
He became the personification of a colonial British gentleman and appeared in more than 100 films.
Nigel Bruce, playing Maj. Lacy, is best known for his role as Dr. Watson, opposite Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes. Although he played the seemingly older Dr. Watson, he was actually 2 & 1/2 years younger than Rathbone.
Reginald Denny, playing Frank Crawley, had a 50-year career that included silent film, theater, movies and TV. He had a surprising 2nd career as a pioneer in aviation drone technology.
He loved model airplanes and formed a company during WWII that made radio-controlled drones for target practice. The company, Radioplane, made thousands of drones during the war and was eventually sold to Northrup. Near the end of the war, at his plant in Van Nuys, California, he gave permission for an Army photo shoot.
One of his pretty young female employees was such a hit with the photographers that she was encouraged to begin a modeling career, which brought her to the attention of Hollywood.
Soon Mrs. James Dougherty was able to quit what she called "the hardest work she ever had to do" to start a movie career.
Norma Jeane Mortensen Dougherty would change her name several times, but today we know her as Marilyn Monroe.
Gino Corrado, plays the hotel manager, and he appeared in almost 400 films, using 7 different stage names. He has the distinction of being the only actor to appear in 2 of Hollywood’s greatest movies - Citizen Kane and Casablanca, he played a waiter in both films.
And late in the film, watch for Hitchcock to make his traditional cameo, walking past a phone booth just after George Sanders makes a call.