As in the book, Fontaine’s character has no first name, but that in no way takes away from the powerful performance given by a gifted and beautiful actress. Over 20 actresses were tested for the role that eventually went to Joan Fontaine. Not only did she win the role, but won a nomination for Best Actress for this role, although she lost Ginger Rogers.
Joan played the second wife, being driven mad by the servants of her new husband and in true Hitchcock fashioned played it beautifully.
This was also Hitchcock’s first American made film, and it went on to win the Best Picture Oscar. However, Hitchcock did not receive the award for direction. The first of many “overlooks” by the Academy. Joan however set the standard for Hitchcock’s heroines, and many followed, but none were able to match her performance.