One of the last of the golden era Hollywood stars and younger sister (and bitter rival of) Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine often played roles that required a certain kind of nervous reserve or well-mannered repression, a fragility or instability and a general sense of self-doubt. Of course, these qualities were often precisely what would then come to be challenged in the story with Joan, our unlikely heroine (as heroines so often were in those days), fighting her corner and overcoming her (sometimes imagined) adversary.
She was nominated for 3 Oscars, winning once for her role in Suspicion (1941).
In Suspicion (1941), her second Hitchcock film in 2 years, Fontaine plays a young wife who begins to suspect that her penniless husband (played by the ever-charming Cary Grant) is working towards killing her off in order to secure her fortune.
As the new Mrs. de Winter in Hitchcock’s electric adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1940).
Opposite Orson Welles in Bronte’s Jane Eyre (1943).
As the long-forgotten Lisa Berndle in Max Ophuls’ Letter From an Unknown Woman (1948).
Joan discussing sister Olivia in 1979.
posted by Dixie Turner