Documentary on the life and career of Vivien Leigh who made 19 films in her 30 year career and won 2 Academy Awards as Best Actress (for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) and Gone with the Wind (1939) ). She was born in India in 1913, the daughter of a prosperous stock broker. She was bundled off to boarding school in England at age 6 and her parents only re-settled there when she was 15. Her first marriage, to wealthy barrister Leigh Holman, lasted for several years until she met Laurence Olivier. Once they each obtained divorces from their respective spouses they were married in 1940. After starring in A Yank at Oxford (1938) she received the role that would define her in the public's mind, Scarlett O'Hara. By the early 1950s, her relationship with Olivier began to unravel as her mood swings became more pronounced. She was distraught at the break-up of her marriage and at the dwindling number of roles available to her. Her last film was Ship of Fools (1965). She died in 1967 in London... Written by
For her performance in "A Streetcar Named Desire" Vivien won her second Academy Award as Best Actress. It had been a triumph. In Blanche she explored aspects of herself she had never shown before on screen or stage: her fragility, sudden dips into despair and desperation tht in the future would become more and more difficult.
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"Vivien Leigh: Scarlett & Beyond" is a decent 1990 bio of Vivien Leigh, who gave us such a vivid portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara, Blanche DuBois, and appeared with great success in films like "Waterloo Bridge," "That Hamilton Woman," and "Ship of Fools." There are some wonderful clips and photos of the young Leigh, supplied by her daughter Suzanne, as well as home movies of Leigh and Olivier and film clips of early performances. The focus of the bio is her rise to stardom and her love affair and marriage to Laurence Olivier.
Though there are many references to her mental illness, it seems to be downplayed. It isn't clear why - it certainly wasn't the poor woman's fault that she suffered from manic-depression, but the effects of this were not mentioned: her removal from an airplane, her attempt to run away with actor Peter Finch (the inspiration for the film "The VIPS"), and the most stunning effect of all - that she would stand backstage hallucinating and walk onstage and be letter perfect. The pity is that back then, there was nothing to help her.
The effect of Leigh's illness on her marriage is mentioned, but one is left with the impression that Olivier dumped her for a younger woman. He did, but don't tell me this disease, uncontrolled, is easy to live with. Rachel Kempson (Mrs. Redgrave) said "Larry got tired." Tired? An understatement I'm sure.
Vivien Leigh was a tremendous actress and an equally great beauty. Though this is a good documentary, with interviews with the aforementioned Rachel Kempson, Garson Kanin, John Gielgud and others, it could have been more in depth. Yes, she was beautiful, yes, she was fragile, but she was so much more. Narrated and hosted by Jessica Lange, an odd choice, and the result is uneven.
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