Saturday, March 12, 2016

Marathon Stars: Vivien Leigh

When I first heard of The Marathon Stars Blogathon hosted by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and The Wonderful World of Cinema, I immediately started to think of what movie stars I hadn't seen that many films of. Aside from the few I have, as of right now, no real interest in watching, it seemed like every star I thought of I had seen 4+ films. I would think, "Oh, what about him? Whoops, forgot about that film!" Finally I came up with about 10 stars and after seeing who had the most accessible films (TCM, library, YouTube, Netflix) I decided on Vivien Leigh. After all, I really did need to see Gone With the Wind.

I had only seen Vivien Leigh in Waterloo Bridge (1940) - after reading Back to Golden Day's post on it. As I was looking at her filmography, I was surprised at how few films she was in - 20 total. Leigh's Scarlet O'Hara is such a "larger than life" character that you imagine her as being a dominating star in many films.

Here are the films I watched in the order I watched them (I will not be giving summaries of the films but merely my reaction to them):

1. Anna Karenina (1948)

It's a story that has been done many times. Garbo did it. Recently Keira Knightly did it. But I had never seen it or read it until the Leigh version popped up on Netflix. I put it in my list and let it sit there for a while. Then, with the excuse of this blogathon, I watched it. 

A good movie, though the snow was obviously fake. I did feel cold though! It was difficult to be completely sympathetic to Leigh's character since she should have put the happiness of her child above herself.

Playing Chinese Checkers between takes.

2. Gone With the Wind (1939)  

The epitome of Golden Hollywood. A Legend and a Classic from the moment filming began. This is a film that should be at the top of the list of must-see films for the movie connoisseur. Yet it took this blogathon to make me watch it from start to finish.

GWTW was much better than I had expected. Of the scenes I had seen, I had gathered that this was an extremely depressing movie and I had no sympathy for the spoiled Scarlet O'Hara. After viewing the film in its entirety, it is still depressing, but not because it has a sad story-line but because the characters seem so real and you feel for them. De Havilland's performance was wonderful like all of her performances. I was also struck by Gable's performance, especially as a father. It's kind of difficult to imagine a macho man like Gable acting like that but he did and very believably. I only wish he would have lived to see the birth of his real-life son in 1961.

Again, another character of Leigh's that is difficult to sympathize with. I can't stand women who steal men from their real loves.

3. Fire Over England (1937)

Leigh only has a small part in this film (she is 5th billed) but she inserts as much passion as she can into her role as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I (Flora Robson). Of course, it can't be too difficult to be passionate about someone when that someone is the man you're in love with - Laurence Olivier.

Vivien Leigh Films on YouTube

Dark Journey (1937)

This blogathon made me curious to know what other stars I had seen in three or less films so I made a list (definitely not complete in the Silent film area). There was a lot more than I realized! Some I feel like I know but it's only because I've seen them in the same movie so many times, like Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen in White Christmas. I really just know the "Hanes sisters." Below is a little chart of stars according to number of films seen (I know I've missed a few). Now to get as many stars off this list as possible!



  1. That was a wonderful pic for the blogathon. I haven't seen Vivien in many films (only 4), but she's in my top 10, because she was such a great actress. I particularly enjoyed your comment on GWTW. I'll also suggest you to watch Lady Hamilton (also known as That Hamilton Woman) and A Streetcar Named Desire (that's truly depressing I must admit, but worthy for the performances). Thanks for your participation and don't forget to read my entry as well! :)

    1. I had planned on watching more, including THW but I was asked last minute to housesit/babysit for these past three days so it just didn't happen.

      Thanks for hosting again!

  2. She was such a great actress - must agree with Virginie that A Streetcar Named Desire is a must! Enjoyed reading your take on Vivien Leigh.

    1. Guess I know what movie I'm getting next time I'm at the library! ;)

  3. I left the room totally in shock when I saw Gone with the Wind. It was emotionally devastating! I agree that Gable was surprising as a loving father figure, and it made me sad about his tragic death before the birth of his son.
    I really love the costumes and interiors in Anna Karenina, nothing more. And I'm third to recommend A Streetcar!
    Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)

    1. Three recommendations = must see film :)

  4. Glad someone else took a long time in seeing Gone With the Wind! I hadn't realized it, but I guess I've only seen her in A Streetcar Named Desire.