Monday, May 18, 2015

My cousin Rachel - 1952

My Cousin Rachel was written by Daphne Du Maurier, a lovely noir romance about a femme fatale who could be murderous as well.  It was made into a Hollywood film starring Olivia de Havilland as Rachel and Richard Burton as Philip Ashley.

Philip Ashley
I had an inkling that Hollywood would mess up with this story and spent a major part of my day reading the book.  It was a page turner and I had no problem in reading it at a stretch.  Here is my review of the book.

Philip Ashley (Richard Burton) is a young orphan brought up by his older cousin, Ambrose. They live together happily on their estate in Cornwall.  As he gets older Ambrose Ashley finds he cannot bear the Cornwall winters anymore and goes to Florence.  On one such visit, he meets his cousin Rachel there and after a short courtship, gets married to her.  Soon after his wedding he falls ill.  He sends some letters home accusing Rachel of trying to kill him. 
Is that poison in my tea?

Another murder?
A distraught Philip goes to Florence but finds Ambrose dead and buried.  His wife has gone away from Florence for some unknown destination. Philip is convinced that Rachel had a hand in Ambrose's death.  When Rachel visits Cornwall, Philip invites her to stay with him and wants to have a showdown with her.   Rachel disarms him with her charm and wins him over. He is soon eating out of her hands.  But should he beware of her?

Olivia de Havilland is good as Rachel though she does look a little placid and matronly in places. Rachel needed someone sexy and mysterious. Richard Burton  is perfect as the impetuous Philip who is drawn to Rachel yet cannot help suspecting her of murder.
Rachel and Ashley

What is a big let down is the script which fails to follow the book to the letter and loses out. I am mystified about the reasons the makers of the film had to alter the end. The end of the book was so much better and the film would have been so much better if they had stuck to the same end.


  1. This is one I've heard of, but which I've never seen (despite having seen a fair number of Olivia de Havilland's films). Now I'm not even sure I want to see it. I hate it when they change things for no good reason.

  2. They were going so well, but they put in a twist in the movie, just one scene that kind of changes the way we look at Rachel. It was wholly unnecessary.

    Burton was SO good in this.

  3. Now you're tempting me! I like Burton a lot anyway, so this - despite everything - is attracting me.

  4. They keep to the book till the fag end. The ending is intact, but a couple of elements have been woven in which change the way you look at Rachel. Which I don't like.

    Burton is fantastic. He gets to portray a range of emotions.