Friday, December 20, 2013


  I got up slowly, my old nervousness returning, and went out into the hall.  I wished I could have waited for him, and then, taking his arm, seen the rooms together.  I did not want to go alone, with Mrs. Danvers.  How vast the great hall looked now that it was empty.  My feet rang on the flagged stones, echoing to the ceiling, and I felt guilty at the sound, as one does in church, self-conscious, aware of the same constraint.  My feet made a stupid pitter-patter as I walked, and I thought that Frith with his felt soles, must have thought me foolish.

  “It’s very big, isn’t it?” I said, too brightly, too forced, a schoolgirl still, but he answered me in all solemnity.  “Yes, Madam, Manderley is a big place.  Not so big as some, of course, but big enough.”

   Joan Fontaine, the great movie actress who gained her superstar stripes in 1940’s Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel, passed away this week.  My old friend, the film critic Carrie Rickey, wrote this on Miss Fontaine’s passing:

 "Like a silent movie actress, Fontaine’s face communicated her character’s vulnerability more eloquently than dialogue could. With the exception of Lillian Gish, no one did vulnerable like Fontaine. Fontaine, the cultivated English rose who was actually born in Japan, was daughter of an English father and an American mother. She was one of the last links to Hollywood’s Golden Age. The last is Olivia de Havilland, Fontaine’s older sister, 97. Famous for their talent and radiant beauty, the sisters were infamous for a longstanding feud that de Havilland declined to confirm and Fontaine liked to talk about. She once explained the feud was due to her getting married first, winning an Oscar nomination and an Oscar before her sister did. When she and her sister were children, Fontaine wrote a will that read, 'I bequeath my beauty to my sister, because she has none.'” 


Daphne du Maurier, excerpt from Rebecca (1938)

Carrie Rickey, excerpt from Carrie Rickey blog, "Joan Fontaine - 1917-2013"

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