Category: laurence olivier

laurence olivier

Happy Birthday, Laurence Olivier

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier toast Larry's birthday

“A man whose name has been spoken with undiminished admiration for several decades now, wherever in the world theatre exists. A romantic movie star,a sublime comedian, to many he is the greatest Shakespearian actor of our age. In a time of rockets that light up the theatrical sky and vanish in the night, this is a planet.”– Arthur Miller on Laurence Olivier

104 years ago today, the greatest actor of a generation was born in Dorking, Surrey. There have been so many Olivier birthday tributes on this site over the years that I can hardly think of anything new to write. What to say about an actor you’ve loved for so long? That you still admire him and his films? That you’re glad he once existed? I would hope this website states the obvious. But I am glad Laurence Olivier existed. I have so enjoyed learning about him, collecting photos and watching his films. Now being in London, I can hardly walk down the street without seeing something that reminds me of him and Vivien Leigh; a theatre, a hotel, a statue. He and Vivien were such an intricate part of London’s artistic culture and high society in the 20th Century and although they may be gone, they left footprints everywhere. The average tourist may not be aware of any of these things when visiting the city, but I take a secret, nerdy pleasure in knowing the significance of certain locations in relation to a subject I’m really passionate about.

Its hard not to respect someone who left such a palpable mark on culture. What would film and especially British theatre be without him? Respect.

Happy birthday, Larry, wherever you are!

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Favorite Films of 1939: Wuthering Heights

Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights

When I originally signed on to participate in the CMBA Films of 1939 Blogathon, I was really hoping I’d get a chance to write about William Wyler’s adaptation of Wuthering Heights. But it turned out someone else had already chosen to write about this film. Therefore, I decided to wait until after the blogathon finished to get my two cents in about what is not only one of my favorite films of 1939, but what might just be my favorite film, period.

Let me give you a little back story. I read Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights for my AP English class during my senior year in high school and admittedly hated it. This was followed by  screening of the 1992 film version starring Juliette Binoche and Ralph Fiennes, and I hated that, too. Then one day a couple of years down the road, I caught the 1939 version on TCM and the rest, as they say, is history.

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TCM Classic Film Festival: Spartacus

Laurence Olivier and Kirk Douglas in Spartacus

As many of you know, Turner Classic Movies hosted its second annual TCM Classic Film Festival a couple weeks ago in Hollywood. They screened two Vivien Leigh and/or Laurence Olivier films: A newly restored print of A Streetcar Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951) and Spartacus (Stanley Kubrick, 1960). Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there, but luckily some of you were able to attend and report back on how amazing it was!

Kristen Sales has a BA in Film and Media Studies from the University of California Irvine (which happens to be my alma matter; small world!). She is a big fan of classic films and regularly contributes to FilmFracture and has her own blog, Facbook page and Tumblr dedicated to the wonderful world of film and her own writings on the subject, all titled Sales on Film. Kristen got to sit in on the TCMFF screening of Spartacus, which was introduced by film legend Kirk Douglas and TCM host Robert Osborne. Luckily for us, she was willing to write about the experience for! Thanks, Kristen!

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Vivien Leigh at Bonhams and the Lost Gone with the Wind Manuscript

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier in 1946

There have been two exciting, recent exhibitions in the US featuring Vivien Leigh. The first was at Bonhams in New York where many of director George Cukor’s personal items were auctioned off. The artifacts had been in the hands of the Estate of Charles Williamson and Tucker Flemming, and included several photos and letters from and related to Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. The Oliviers were lifelong friends with Cukor, and their mutual friendships with the The Philadelphia Story director continued after their divorce. Along with photos and personal letters, the auction also contained and letters from Vivien’s daughter Suzanne to journalist Radie Harris about a book Radie was planning to publish about Vivien in the late 1980s.

The second exhibition is currently ongoing. 4 chapters from Margaret Mitchell’s original Gone with the Wind manuscript (thought to have been destroyed upon the author’s death in 1949) have been recovered and will be on display at the University of Georgia as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations going on throughout the state. Right now, the exhibition is traveling, and visitor Meg was able to see it at the Pequot Library in Southport, CT. She was kind enough to snap some photos (as well as the ones from the Bonhams auction) and send them in to the site. Thanks so much, Meg! I wish this exhibit would come to London.

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Larry, Vivien and the Rumor Mill

As of late, there has been much debate/discussion on the Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier Facebook page regarding Laurence Olivier’s sexual orientation. There have been many rumors about both Larry and Vivien for as long as anyone can remember. Just recently a book called Damn You, Scarlett O’Hara was published that’s overflowing with them. But the main rumor that’s pervaded the scene since Donald Spoto published his biography of Laurence Olivier is that Larry was bisexual. The subject of sex and famous people’s sex lives is the hot ticket, especially in this day and age. I don’t focus on this topic here at very often, if at all, but since it keeps popping up elsewhere, and since it was pointed out yesterday that I “have virtually ignored [the subject] in my research as hearsay”, I decided it might be best to just put my two cents here, and simply refer people to it when asked so as not to have to keep repeating myself in long-winded arguments.

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