I couldn’t help but chuckle at Gary W. Tooze‘s just-posted DVD Beaver review of MGM’s Rebecca Bluray (out 1.24). I respect and value the capability of Bluray to capture and deliver celluloid texture, and I know that grain is a natural component of this. But you’d have to search far and wide to find a more obsessed grain fetishist than Tooze. You can almost feel a certain erotic tumescence as he writes about grain, grain, glorious grain.
Judith Anderson, Joan Fontaine in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca.
I don’t want to see Rebecca DNR’ed, Gor forbid, but I’m not queer for grain either. I can guarantee you that Rebecca producer David O. Selznick and director Alfred Hitchcock never once spoke to each other excitedly about the delightful graininess of the footage they were capturing. No golden-age Hollywood cinematographer or director or producer ever did…not once. Because there was nothing to say. Grain was simply a technical, professional fact of life, and they accepted it the way Londoners accept fog and rainshowers and polar bears accept ice and snow.
I’m very much looking forward to the film-like appearance of the Rebecca Bluray — terrific. And I know that grain is what that movie is “made of”, in a very true and particular sense. But if there was some magical way to capture every last detail in Rebecca and at the same time reduce the grain somewhat, at least to the extent that the Bluray viewer wouldn’t be reminded of the fact that Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier, Judith Anderson and George Sanders are smothered in a swarm of billions of silver mosquitoes…well, that would be a preferable way to go. Because Selznick and Hitchcock weren’t aware of said mosquitoes — only Bluray viewers are. Because Bluray makes these critters seem vivid and pronounced like they never did in the old days. And I, apparently, am the only one who laments or even acknowledges this.