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
This documentary is featured in the 4-Disc Collector's Edition DVD set for Gone with the Wind (1939), released in 2004. See more »
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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A decent biography that actually made me feel a bit sorry for Olivier.
I've seen a few biographies about Vivian Leigh and this one made for Turner Classic Movies is probably the best. It isn't perfect, but does a good job of encapsulating her life and career.
The story begins in India--where Vivian was born. I was saddened to hear that at a very early age (I think 6), she was sent off to England for schooling--and was away from her family for about a decade. I know that sort of thing was done back then, but you wonder how much of an impact this had on her--it surely couldn't have been good. And, considering her instability as an adult, perhaps the impact was disastrous. Now I am not blaming Vivian's bipolar disorder on this but you do wonder if it somehow contributed to it or exacerbated it. Sad.
The film then discusses her stage and film successes as well as her tempestuous relationship with Laurence Olivier. Now I have always disliked the pair as people, as they both left spouses in order to move in together. This selfishness was, at times, excused as some great love affair by the folks they interviewed for the film and I guess that's just how show type people are--but it seemed pretty sad. However, when I heard more about how she mistreated Olivier almost from the very beginning, I felt a bit sad for him as well--as well as her announcing (as per IMDb) that she'd been having affairs and wasn't interested in him any more sexually (ouch!!). But this wasn't mentioned in the show--just that she was increasingly unstable. Perhaps the folks making the film just wanted to make her look great and fill the viewer with a sense of awe...but it did seem a bit dishonest. Now I DO understand that folks with bipolar disorders do act this way sometimes--much of it due to the illness. But it would have put the end of their marriage in a much clearer context.
Apart from this, the film is everything you'd expect---interviews, film clips, photos, etc.. I noticed one reviewer commented that Jessica Lange's narration was not especially good. I would agree--though I am sure she's a nice person. It's just that her expressions and speech sometimes didn't seem to match what she was discussing.
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