Top of the World: Olivia de Havilland Turns 101!

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Today, the strong, lovely, talented, legendary Olivia de Havilland is turning 101 years old and we are very lucky to still have her with us! Aging gracefully, she certainly is one of the most beautiful women of that age! For the occasion, Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Laura from Phyllis Loves Classic Movies are hosting The Second Olivia de Havilland Blogathon + Eroll Flynn!

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For the occasion, I’ve decided to present you a top 10 of my most favourite Olivia de Havilland’s films! Remember, these are my personal favourites, so it’s purely subjective. I ask you to respect my choices.

Just to give you an idea, I’ve seen a total of 12 of her films so far.

Here we go!

10. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, 1935)

I’m not THAT much a fan of this film, but I’ve decided to put it at #10 as 1- It has to be praised for the excellent performances (including Olivia’s one), 2- A Midsummer Night’s Dream remains, after all, my favourite Shakespeare play, 3- I love the magic and poetry embodied by the dreaming cinematography and 4- the two other ones I saw, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and Santa Fe Trail left me a bit indifferent.

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9. Hush… Hush… Sweet Charlotte (Robert Aldrich, 1964)

Quite a creepy film, but I’ve always found Olivia de Havilland’s performance quite interesting as it is very different from the innocent Melanie Hamilton for example! And who would say no to a film reuniting her, Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead?

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8. The Proud Rebel (Michael Curtiz, 1958)

This western was the last collaboration between Curtiz and De Havilland. Somehow it’s not too well-known, but I think it deserves more recognition. It’s a beautiful film and our Livie is absolutely touching in it.

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7. My Cousin Rachel (Henry Koster, 1952)

One thing: I STILL have to read the book by Daphné du Maurier. Ok, this film contains his flaws, but it remains an appreciable one to see. Olivia is quite fascinating playing this ambiguous Rachel! Who is she really?! This film is a good way to size her versatility as an actress.

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6. The Strawberry Blonde (Raoul Walsh, 1941)

I actually just watched this movie today in honour of the celebrated one! I quite enjoyed it! It was a lot of fun. Olivia and James Cagney (such a great actor!) looked just adorable together. The presence of Rita Hayworth and Jack Carson was, of course, highly appreciated as well. A good comedy movie to watch when you feel like not concentrating too much!

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5. The Dark Mirror (Robert Siodmak, 1946)

I’ve always loved psychological movies and this one makes no exception to the rule. Playing two roles in one film never looks like an easy task, but, here, Olivia did it wonderfully. A fascinating film.

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4. The Adventures of Robin Hood (Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, 1938)

Of course, we all like the collaborations between Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn. This one has to be my favourite one without hesitation. Olivia is so lovely as Lady Marian and the film itself is a wonderful entertainment!

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3. The Snake Pit (Anatole Litvak, 1948)

I’ve said that I’ve always loved psychological movies. Well, this one is another great example. I love to see the evolution of the characters in these. Here, Olivia de Havilland certainly gives one of her best and more challenging performances. She received an Oscar nomination for her performance.

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2. The Heiress (William Wyler, 1949)

And happy birthday to William Wyler, who was born on July 1st too! Well, if Olivia won her second Oscar with this film, it’s not without reasons. An extraordinary performance, full of subtleties and perfectly calculated. She gives an extraordinary essence to her character and it’s hard to surpass her. I’ve loved this film since the first time I saw it. Of course, I don’t think William Wyler ever made a bad film…

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  1. Gone With the Wind (Victor Flemming, 1939)

Ok, I know, this is not a very creative #1, but what can I say? I love the film ok! There would be so much to say about it, but for what concerns Olivia, she illuminates the screen and is in perfect harmony with the rest of the cast. I couldn’t think of anyone better to portray Melanie Hamilton. This is the first film of hers I saw. What a great introduction to her filmography! 🙂

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Well, that’s it! Of course, don’t hesitate to share your choices with me!

I want to thank Crystal and Laura for hosting this amazing blogathon. Please take a look at the other entries here:

The Second Olivia de Havilland Blogathon + Errol Flynn Day 1

Happy 101 birthday dear Olivia!

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Long Life to the Lovely Livie!

9db09624295b4f85254c9c8e1bdfcf97 Today is a great day. You know why? Because Olivia de Havilland, one of my favourite actresses, is celebrating her 99th birthday! How wonderful is that! 😀 Olivia de Havilland is one of the last legends of classic Hollywood to still be alive and it’s an honour for us to celebrate her on July 1st.  I frankly don’t really care about Canada Day (being much more Quebecers than Canadian). To me, the big celebration today is Olivia de Havilland’s birthday!

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Olivia de Havilland was not only known as the late Joan Fontaine’s sister (another favourite of mine) and Errol Flynn’s parter in eight films, but also as a fantastic actress and unforgettable actress. Winner of two academy awards (The Heiress and To Each His Own), she never stopped to impress the audience, including me. I was amazed by all her performances, well those I have seen so far, and, today, I’m asking to myself “is it possible not to love Olivia de Havilland?” Not know her, yes, but dislike her? Please, no! Or, if you do, I hope this tribute will make you change your mind. In this text, I won’t talk to you about each one of her performances, because I’ve already done that in my Olivia de Havilland’s Film Marathon (that I invite you to read, of course). Well, since I’ve done this marathon (that was in January), I’ve seen two more of her films: The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte. Those two were great, but Gone With the Wind remains my favourite film of hers and The Heiress, my favourite performance.

 638293341c9fc1b680511ce6ca92cff2676013133fca6ca5ccd45d42c6366890 What amazed me the most, when I watch those films, is Olivia de Havilland versatility. As a matter of fact, just like her sister Joan Fontaine, she was more known to play the sweet and innocent girls, but that’s not so true. Look at The Heiress for example. Yes, she plays the innocent girl, but her transformation in a more mature and serious woman toward the end of the film is breathtaking and that’s one of the reasons why she deserves so much this Best Actress Oscar for her performance in this film. Or then, compare Gone With the Wind, where she plays the most kind woman on Earth and then, Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte where she plays a real bitchy. The most important things to notice is that, in both cases, her performance is excellent. d2609a6a0267e4d1973c3daa21d5da6384f414f850b6bc4facb96ce7c8cc7504

However, I must admit that “sweet and innocent girl” is one of my favourite type of character and Olivia de Havilland was perfect for this kind of role. That’s when she becomes so touching, that’s how she is our real heroine, an on-screen model. One of the best examples for that would not only been Melanie Hamilton in Gone With the Wind, but also Linnette More in The Proud Rebel (her last film under the direction of Michael Curtiz). In this film, she doesn’t really play the innocent girl, but a strong woman and her performance is very touching. It’s not one of her most well-known films, but it is, in my opinion, one of her best performances.

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Olivia de Havilland was not only a great actress, she was also one of the most beautiful woman to ever grace the screen. With her large brown eyes, her perfectly defined lips and her sweet round face, she certainly can make some people jealous! And at the noble age of 99, she still is a great beauty! Just like her sister Joan, she aged very well. 0ea9385bc8b6112507fc3060b1ee892821807a7ee1e4a0402e9fa7a4da07ddb2

I think my next step concerning Olivia de Havilland would be to read a biography of her. She is a delight to watch on screen, but I would like to know a little more about her (well, more than I already know because of what I read on the Internet). Olivia de Havilland was born in Japan, had an acting career in Hollywood and she now lives in Paris since the 60’s. She apparently quite good in french. That’s something I’ve always liked, when an English speaking actor can speak my native language. I feel even closer to them. Last March, I wrote a letter to her (in French, thought it would be original!). I haven’t received an answer yet. I can understand that Mrs. De Havilland doesn’t really answer her fan mails anymore, but I’m still hoping. Well, what will be a great pleasure. Even if she doesn’t answer me, I really hope she read my letter and enjoyed it.

Little Olivia in Tokyo
Little Olivia in Tokyo

Even if she had retired from the acting life in the 80’s, Olivia de Havilland never was forgotten by her fans and continues to be discovered by young cinephiles like me. In 2008, she received the National Medal of Arts and The LĂ©gion d’honneur in 2010. Olivia de Havilland appeared at the Cesar Ceremony in 2011 and received a standing ovation. So, as you can see, we still all love Livie. ❀ I’ve also read that, in 2015 (well, the actual year), Olivia de Havilland said that she was working on an autobiography. Well, she must have many interesting things to tell after 99 years of living! eae017172aa8ce94335cfc56fe8ece5e

It’s now time to present to you my top 5 Olivia de Havilland’s films. So here it goes: 1- Gone with the Wind 2- The Heiress 3- The Dark Mirror 4- The Adventures of Robin Hood 5- My Cousin Rachel (Reading DaphnĂ© Du Maurier’s novel will be the next step) My friend Lara Gabrielle Fowler from Backlots once write a text about the final scene of The Heiress. She, of course, talks about Olivia de Havilland’s performance in this scene. I’ve read it, and it’s really is one of the best blog articles I ever read. It also won a CiMBA Award for Best Classic Movie Discussion. Of course, I invite you to click on the link and read it:

The Final Scene of “The Heiress” 1949

With director William Wyler and Montgomery Clift on the set of The Heiress
With director William Wyler and Montgomery Clift on the set of The Heiress

In June 2006, Olivia de Havilland said “I’ll be 90 on July 1. I can’t wait to be 90! Another victory!” (IMDB) Well, 99 is certainly another great victory and, I can assure you, celebrations will be BIG on her 100th birthday next year!

Dear Livie, happy birthday and joy to you! bb81ccb463a323f265af86201ab204b3