The Daphne du Maurier centenary doesn’t seem to be making the impact over here that it is in the UK. Unsurprisingly perhaps (too much Cornwall??). But it was a bit of a jolt to go to a screening of the 1952 My Cousin Rachel – with Richard Burton and Olivia de Havilland – and find that the film professional doing the introduction was a bit uncertain that the whole plot had been based on a novel and certainly couldn’t pronounce her name (not even the Daphne).
We hadn’t actually gone to My Cousin Rachel for the sake of the movie itself. I think I had probably seen it before anyway, but all those black-and-white cliffs get a bit mixed up in my memory with the pretty much identikit ones in Hitchcock’s Rebecca. So honestly I’m not too sure.
The main point of the visit had been to see the movie theatre. For the film was playing in Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, one of those marvellous 1920s themed extravaganzas like the even more famous Chinese Theatre just up the street.
From the outside it looks just like you are going to see a movie in an Egyptian temple and apparently, when it first opened, a guy dressed in Egyptian costume used to patrol on the roof calling out the times of the movies. We wanted to see what happened on the inside.
The answer is that quite a lot has been changed (including – for good or bad -- the seats) but the ceiling of the auditorium still has a wonderful Egyptian fan design. And part of the ventilation system (not that we could see it) is modelled on Cleopatra’s needle.