Happy 101st birthday to my favorite actress! It’s always fun to joyously celebrate the day when such a woman who was more than dedicated to her vocation was born. I am to view again some of her films aside of Gone With the Wind later today with the knowledge that she lived a life when the demonstration of her art was recognized. May she live in the world of cinema always, even after the Sun carbonizes our planet.
Vivien Leigh can be considered my first obsession in the realm of classic film. I remember almost dying from boredom on a warm August evening when my sister was searching for films for us to watch. Gone With the Wind was a suggestion and of some interest for my thirteen-year-old mind because in that year (7th grade) I had read The Outsiders and Ponyboy Curtis had not stopped talking about the book. I read some info about it right then and saw how long it was. 4 hours? I could barely sit through two! How was I to watch that? Plus, it was so old. I said no immediately but my sister convinced me….Once I saw Vivien Leigh on the porch of Tara, I could not believe there ever was such beauty and delicacy in a female. She was incomparable! I had real envy for her eyebrows, too, because I did not possess enough bravery to pluck them like that.
Not knowing why, I stayed up until one in the morning watching the entire film. She was feisty, spunky, conniving, resilient and honest. At times I gasped at some baffling things she said or what she did. I, in fact, found myself amused with this film and the actress that portrayed the callous character of Scarlett O’ Hara. This film affected me in so many ways that I am surprised how my young mind took it. It made an indelible impact on the tastes that I had when I was older. I became engrossed with the love between Rhett and Scarlett when watching this….What happened to their daughter even quieted me with doomed emotion. The ending was something I could not comprehend at all. Why separate these fated lovers? I now have come to the conclusion that it was possibly the greatest comeuppance Scarlett O’ Hara could have gotten.
I started reading the book after two weeks or so. In school, I’d get in trouble for reading it so much in class. At home, I’d read it. Before school, I also would. My mother once snatched it away from me and refused to give it back. I begged for my book back with tears! Since I was really beginning to open up artistically to the English language, Margaret Mitchell’s writing was something I hadn’t really read but at the same time it was something I wanted to exemplify my craft. Her writing was the basis and my number one inspiration to keep on scribbling. How could anyone have written a novel with such moving plot twists and length? I became more than acquainted with the characters as well. There’s respectable background portions for each character. Scarlett will always be that one character I remember idolizing when I was younger. She was the reason I chuckled through the entire book. To obtain what she coveted for, she fought any obstacles in life to get it, even if humans had to be unfairly treated. Poor Wade Hampton.
Some time later I had the loveliest privilege to watch A Streetcar Named Desire. I had to watch it a few more times so I could see the duress and despair of the film in its form. That’s when I started to read more and more about the almighty Vivien Leigh. This film, in my opinion, has the most accurate and truthful portrayal of mental illness.
I spent the next few months watching everything I could find starring this actress and reading almost everything there was written of her. I bought books, old magazines, a doll, posters and some of her films. She’d be on my mind everyday….She still is but with not so much intensity. I’d be watching Gone With the Wind daily….reading passages of the book…..Yes, Vivien Leigh had become my obsession.
The love she shared with Olivier served as one of my inspirations….to find a lad that I would come to worship someday as he would do the same…..Ah, to be fourteen again. I am to never forget this great woman. When thinking of her, the looks are not the first things that come to mind (though they are apparent), her work does. Vivling was the gifted Aphrodite in those cinematic days of yore. I very much venerate her in my heart for her performances in those movies that I love and for just existing. Happy birthday, Vivien Leigh. Do spend it maybe having some amorous moments with Larry, knitting, jesting and being proud of the legacy your artistry has been fortunate to leave us.
My other recommended Vivien Leigh performances:
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
If you want to see her during a period of her greatest prime, this is a suitable choice. You will see here nothing but an insecure widow chasing a gigolo in Italy. Will you have the time of your life? Probably.
A pretty romantic film….an enormous tearjerker also. Robert Taylor made me cry at the end.
Fire Over England
Aha! Vivien and Olivier were right at the start of their affair….and it got rather steamy. You watch them kiss here and see how well they do it. They were a sensual couple off-screen and on-screen. Vivien already worshiped him with her eyes.
If you want more, watch the rest of her filmography.