Currently a remake of My Cousin Rachel has just hit theaters. I understand it is not doing too bad. Before you see the newest version I would like to invite you to see George Cukor/Henry Koster’s version starring Richard Burton as Philip Ashley and the lovely Olivia de Havilland as Rachel Sangaletti Ashley.
British author Daphne du Maurier published the mystery-romance in 1951. The story takes place on a large estate in Cornwall. Philip Ashley is a wealthy cousin to Ambrose (John Sutton) who suddenly dies. Philip suspects Ambrose was murdered by his icy-cold wife Rachel. She stands the most to gain by his death and she is odd compared to the rest of the family. However that opinion changes when Ashley meets Rachel at the funeral. It would appear Rachel’s laid all of his fears to rest. How could such a beautiful creature such as Rachel be a cold-blooded killer? This changes again when Ashley inherits the estate and slowly he begins to fear for his own life.
Set along the wild Cornish coast this is an eerie tale of a Gothic romance. As a viewer I found myself falling under the charming Rachel’s spell. She is a dark sided woman and very formidable when compared to the men she battles. When you think about Rachel’s character I have to ask; Is she sinister? Or is it she is foreign being from a different culture with ethics that seem skewed to how we think of these matters. Burton’s character seems to live between a promise of ecstasy and a life of torment. At times I wondered if I was inside Ashley’s feverish delirious dream world or if it was reality.
I really liked this mystery. I think you will too. So, I suggest before you watch the latest and greatest watch what put it in motion. Watch the 1952 version first. You will have a lot to talk about when you see the remake.