Joan Fontaine


Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland (October 22, 1917 – December 15, 2013), known professionally as Joan Fontaine, was a British-American actress who is best known for her starring roles in Hollywood films during the Golden Age. Fontaine appeared in more than 45 films in a career that spanned five decades. She was the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland. Their alleged rivalry was well-documented in the media at the height of Fontaine’s career. She began her film career in 1935, signing a contract with RKO Pictures. Fontaine received her first major role in Lew Landers’s The Man Who Found Himself (1937) and in 1939 with George Steven’s Gunga Din, starring Cary Grant, Victor McLaglen, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Her career prospects improved greatly after her starring role in Alfred Hitchcock‘s Rebecca (1940), for which she received her first of three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actress. The following year, she won that award for her role in Hitchcock’s Suspicion (1941). A third nomination came with The Constant Nymph (1943). She appeared mostly in drama films through the 1940s, including Robert Stevenson’s Jane Eyre (1943), with Orson Welles; and Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948). Other films from that decade include Anatole Litvak’s This Above All (1942), with Tyrone Power; Mitchell Leisen’s Frenchman’s Creek (1944), with Arturo de Córdova and Basil Rathbone; Billy Wilder‘s The Emperor Waltz (1948), with Bing Crosby; You Gotta Stay Happy (1948), with James Stewart.

In the next decade, after her role in Ivanhoe (1952), with Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, George Sanders, Emlyn Williams, Finlay Currie, and Felix Aylmer; her film career began to decline and she moved into stage, radio and television roles. Other roles in the 1950s include Flight to Tangier (1953), with Jack Palance and Corinne Calvet; The Bigamist (1953), with Ida Lupino (who also directed), Edmund Gwenn, and Edmond O’Brien; Casanova’s Big Night (1954), with Bob Hope, Rathbone, John Carradine, Lon Chaney Jr., and Raymond Burr; Anthony Mann’s Serenade (1956), with Mario Lanza, Sara Montiel, and Vincent Price; Fritz Lang‘s Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1954), with Dana Andrews, Sidney Blackmer, and Arthur Franz; Robert Rossen‘s Island in the Sun (1957), with James Mason, Harry Belafonte, Joan Collins, Dorothy Dandridge, Michael Rennie, Stephen Boyd, Patricia Owens, John Justin, Diana Wynyard, John Williams, and Basil Sydney; and Robert Wise’s Until They Sail (1957), with Jean Simmons, Paul Newman, Piper Laurie, and Sandra Dee.

She appeared in fewer films in the 1960s, which included Irwin Allen’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1960), with Peter Lorre, Barbara Eden, Michael Ansara, and Frankie Avalon; and her final film role in The Witches (1966), with Alec McCowen, Kay Walsh, Ann Bell, Ingrid Boulting, and Gwen Ffrangcon Davies. She released an autobiography, No Bed of Roses, in 1978. She continued to act until her last performance in 1994. Having won an Academy Award for her role in Suspicion, Fontaine is the only actor to have won an Academy Award for acting in a Hitchcock film. She and her sister remain the only siblings to have won major acting Academy Awards.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • No More Ladies (1935) – directed by Edward H. Griffith
  • A Million to One (1937) – directed by Lynn Shores
  • Quality Street (1937) – directed by George Stevens
  • The Man Who Found Himself (1937) – directed by Lew Landers
  • You Can’t Beat Love (1937) – directed by Christy Cabanne
  • Music for Madame (1937) – directed by John G. Blystone
  • A Damsel in Distress (1937) – directed by George Stevens
  • Maid’s Night Out (1938) – directed by Ben Holmes
  • Blond Cheat (1938) – directed by Joseph Santley
  • Sky Giant (1938) – directed by Lew Landers
  • The Duke of West Point (1938) – directed by Alfred E. Green
  • Gunga Din (1939) – directed by George Stevens
  • Man of Conquest (1939) – directed by George Nicholls Jr.
  • The Women (1939) – directed by George Cukor
  • Rebecca (1940) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • Suspicion (1941) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • This Above All (1942) – directed by Anatole Litvak
  • The Constant Nymph (1943) – directed by Edmund Goulding
  • Jane Eyre (1943) – directed by Robert Stevenson
  • Frenchman’s Creek (1944) – directed by Mitchell Leisen
  • The Affairs of Susan (1944) – directed by William A. Seiter
  • From This Day Forward (1946) – directed by John Berry
  • Ivy (1947) – directed by Sam Wood
  • Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) – directed by Max Ophüls
  • The Emperor Waltz (1948) – directed by Billy Wilder
  • You Gotta Stay Happy (1948) – directed by H.C. Potter
  • Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948) – directed by Norman Foster
  • September Affair (1950) – directed by William Dieterle
  • Born to Be Bad (1950) – directed by Nicholas Ray
  • Darling, How Could You! (1951) – directed by Mitchell Leisen
  • Othello (1951) – directed by Orson Welles – uncredited
  • Something to Live For (1952) – directed by George Stevens
  • Ivanhoe (1952) – directed by Richard Thorpe
  • Decameron Nights (1953) – directed by Hugo Fregonese
  • Flight to Tangier (1953) – directed by Charles Marquis Warren
  • The Bigamist (1953) – directed by Ida Lupino
  • Casanova’s Big Night (1954) – directed by Norman Z. McLeod
  • Serenade (1956) – directed by Anthony Mann
  • Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) – directed by Fritz Lang
  • Island in the Sun (1957) – directed by Robert Rossen
  • Until They Sail (1957) – directed by Robert Wise
  • A Certain Smile (1958) – directed by Jean Negulesco
  • The Light That Failed (1961) – directed by Marc Daniels – TV movie
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961) – directed by Irwin Allen
  • Tender Is the Night (1962) – directed by Henry King
  • The Witches (1966) – directed by Cyril Frankel
  • The Users (1978) – directed by Joseph Hardy – TV movie
  • Dark Mansions (1986) – directed by Jerry London – TV movie
  • Good King Wenceslas (1994) – directed by Michael Tuchner – TV movie