Executive Producer: Rikolt vonGagern, Rebecca Eaton, Tim Buxton, Jonathan Powell
Producer: Hilary Heath
Director: Jim O'Brien
REBECCA/Episode 1/Intro by Russell Baker
"Rebecca" may be the most popular ghost story to come out of England since Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol."
It was published in 1938 by Daphne Du Maurier, and became a huge bestseller. Then, as an Alfred Hitchcock movie, it won the Academy Award for best picture of 1940.
Tonight, Masterpiece Theatre presents the first installment of a brand new two-part television version.
At the center of the story is a haunted house -- Manderley. Its mistress, the brilliant and beautiful Rebecca De Winter, has died before the story opens. Her drowned body has been found in the surf off the rocky coast that borders Manderley.
Her husband, Max De Winter, apparently crushed by her death, has fled Manderley and is traveling in the South of France.
He is not only charming, but very rich and -- not surprisingly -- highly attractive to adventurous and worldly women who would love to be the next mistress of Manderley.
What none of them realize is that Manderley will be a formidable challenge for any woman who tries to replace Rebecca.
It's a house filled with dark spirits who don't want a new mistress. One of those dark spirits is dead. The other, alive.
First installment, Rebecca.
REBECCA/Episode 1/Extro by Russell Baker
Britain is still full of great houses like Manderley, but the legions of servants who ran them are gone.
The labor government that ruled Britain after World War Two had no sympathy for the Max DeWinters with their vast estates and dozens of servants. Stiff new taxes and death duties helped finish them off.
But the break-up of the great estates began long before socialism took over. David Cannadine's monumental study of the decline of the British aristocracy makes it clear that it was a worldwide agricultural depression in the nineteenth century that started them down the slope.
Nowadays many of the great houses are operated as tourist attractions.
Back in the 1950s I was invited to weekend with a lord of the realm -- a baron whose title came from an ancestor's heroic service with the Duke of Wellington.
On Saturday we pitched in to help his wife polish the immense silver centerpiece for her dining room table. She wanted it to sparkle for the busloads of tourists who would troop through the house next day.
The heir to the title spent that Saturday working in the farm fields with a hired man.
It was a long way from Manderley.
For Masterpiece Theatre, I'm Russell Baker. Goodnight.
Episode number: 1 2
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