Limited Edition of 3,000 Units
Isolated Score Track / Original Theatrical Trailer
1952 / B & W
1.33.1 FULL FRAME
DVD booklet excerpts by Julie Kirgo:
At first glance, My Cousin Rachel (1952) is a classic Gothic romance, Twentieth Century Fox’s riposte to the 1940 David O. Selznick/Alfred Hitchcock stunner, Rebecca. Like her older sibling, Rachel is based on a cunningly crafted Daphne du Maurier best-seller. Both films share the same dramatic setting—a moody old manse on Cornwall’s rocky, sea-swept coast—with brief excursions to explicitly corrupt European cities. Each features a star turn by one of a pair of real-life sisters: Joan Fontaine in Rebecca and Olivia de Havilland as the eponymous Rachel. Rebecca’s English leading man, Laurence Olivier, finds a counterpart in the young Welsh actor making his Hollywood debut in Rachel; Richard Burton’s romantic turmoil as Philip—the tortured character whose narration leads us through the twists and turns of the story—would earn him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and launch him on a long and sizzling movie career.
But despite the similarities, Rachel is a very different, far more savage animal. While Rebecca puts its characters through a harrowing maze of trials and tribulations, they emerge, in the end, into the sunlight of love and understanding. Rachel offers no such relief. With a script by the great writer/producer Nunnally Johnson that is remarkably faithful to its technically brilliant source, it is, in essence, a portrait of a soul in torment, riddled with anguish and ambiguity. That this portrait is of Philip, himself—and not the titular Rachel—is just one of the many surprises this quite astonishing film holds in store.
Consider the first image Philip vouchsafes to us from the walled-in fortress of his memory: a hanged man swinging from a gibbet at a lonely rural crossroad. This is what he learns from his beloved cousin/guardian, Ambrose Ashley (John Sutton): the price of passion is grisly death. Showing a mangled corpse to a reluctant child might, in some circles, be considered abuse. To Ambrose, it’s just one of many life lessons to be imparted to his ward, including the notion that it’s a man’s world; that women are, at best, ridiculous, and at worst, a danger; and that, for the privileged, possession is all. Soon enough, Philip is a man after Ambrose’s heart, claiming all he surveys: my house, my land, my servants, my cousin Rachel.
For the complete notes see the DVD booklet!