Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Olivia hits 100

Happy 100th birthday to Olivia De Havilland, and not only that great age but she seems well and enjoying life living in Paris, as per that fascinating recent "Vanity Fair" interview with her. Whether as Maid Marian to Erroll's ROBIN HOOD (and of course also CAPTAIN BLOOD) or Melanie in GWTW or her great Catherine Sloper in THE HEIRESS Olivia has a great legacy of film roles and of course she also broke Hollywood's slave contracts winning her court case to be able to choose her roles.
As the BFI sais about her in its current retrosective on her career:
De Havilland brought all kinds of women to life on screen: fiery independent dames, gutsy fairy-tale beauties, love-starved daughters, single mothers, genteel small-towners and conniving psychopaths. But she had to fight for these diverse roles. Her employer Warner Brothers saw her as just a pretty face. Like many Hollywood actresses today, she was frustrated with the narrow range of parts she was offered; ‘I had quite different ideas about my career’ she told audiences at the BFI in 1972. ‘I wanted to play a real human being instead of a delightful romantic heroine.’ When in 1943 Warners refused to acknowledge that her seven-year contract had expired, she took them to court and won, forever changing the studio system by weakening its control over actors. She went on to pick roles in some of the most acclaimed films in Hollywood’s history. 
It was great, as I have mentioned here before, seeing her on stage discussing her career all of 44 years ago in 1972 (above, when I was a mere child, ok: 26) at London's BFI, which was such a success that her pal Bette Davis did the same two weeks later .... As per label we also like Olivia in HOLD BACK THE DAWN, HUSH HUSH SWEET CHARLOTTE, THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE, LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA and more (and of course we like her sister Joan too...). 


  1. Love that first picture of her. Usually her photos are smiley ingenue snaps or regal ladylike poses. This one leans more towards the second attitude but there is an underlying toughness showing through, a small peak at the grit beneath the satin that's helped her endure all these years.

    She is surely the most massive star to hit this milestone. Luise Rainer of course was older but her time at the top was an almost blink and you missed her deal despite the back to back Oscars.

    While I'd never say Olivia was in my top 10 I've always been a fan. No matter what she thought of the material handed her, and some of it was very rough-Gold is Where You Find It and Wings of the Navy are almost mindnumbingly awful, she delivered the best performance possible.

    I've seen almost her entire filmography. One that I'm missing-Call It a Day is showing this month on TCM as she's logically the Star of the Month. My hopes aren't high-it has the look of a quota quickie with a good cast but that will only leave the elusive The Well-Groomed Bride for me to seek out so that alone will add an extra pleasure to it.

  2. The one film of Olivia de Havilland that I think is a lost film is That Lady 1955. The film is based on a 1946 historical novel by Kate O'Brien, which was published in North America under the title For One Sweet Grape. It is the story of Ana de Mendoza, a swashbuckling, sword-toting princess. She lost an eye in a duel defending the honor of her king Philip II of Spain, (played by Scofield, who earned a BAFTA award for his portrayal of the King). Philip later jilted her to marry Mary I, the Queen of England. Subsequently, he asks Ana de Mendoza to assist him, as his popularity starts to drop off.
    Shot in England and on location in Spain, the film features Cinemascope footage of the Spanish countryside and renaissance castles. That Lady was an early directorial effort by Terence Young who went on to direct three James Bond films: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Thunderball. Christopher Lee appears in a minor role as the Captain of the