Wishing you could be whisked away by a loving man who sets you up financially, renders irrelevant your lack of career or personal direction, and gives you your own English country mansion to rattle about in? Rebecca, a Cinematherapy martyr movie, is a great reminder that abdicating responsibility for your life decisions and letting some guy steer the boat is never a wise idea, even if it does make you feel cozy on a cold autumn morning.
Our shy heroine (Joan Fontaine), whose sense of self is so minimal that the screenwriter never reveals her name, is thrilled when wealthy Maxim deWinter (Laurence Olivier) deigns to marry down and rescue her from a life as a paid companion to a most disagreeable busybody (Florence Bates). However, for all Maxim’s patronizing promises to care for his new bride, and his silly little flirtatious remarks about how she ought never to grow up, our gal is going to have to face reality. Frankly, her new knight in shining armor has something hidden deep in the darkest waters of his soul that is going to surface one day and demand to be dealt with. And until the new Mrs. DeWinter stops with the apologetic bowing and scraping before the servants and starts getting a reasonable sense of entitlement, she’s going to be haunted by the late Rebecca DeWinter’s reputation as the hostess with the mostess–and by Rebecca’s favorite freakishly devoted maid, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson). Honey, we know you hate confrontation, but here’s a good rule to live by: When the hired help starts fingering the carefully preserved lingerie of its late owner and suggesting that you focus on your inadequacies and lean a little further out that third-floor French window, it’s time to put your foot down and speak up.
Feeling the need to go below deck and let someone else take over? Watch Rebecca (1940), a Cinematherapy cautionary tale about avoiding responsibility so you can be glad you won’t someday have to pay the price for someone else’s cowardice.