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Happy Birthday Olivia de Havilland, 99 today, July 1, 2015


Swithin
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I guess TCM is saving a big Olivia tribute for next year. Surely she will be Star of the Month in July, 2016?

 

BUT had the programming reigns been handed to me today, here's a lineup of films I would have selected to highlight the broad range of Ms. DeHavilland's work, while steering clear of some of the more predictable choices (I left out GWTW and her two Oscar-winning roles, for example). I even tried to keep fiscal responsibility in mind by making more than half my selections from the TCM Library, so this could have been a day of programming that might actually have been realistic. Confession: I've only actually seen four of the 12 films I picked, so I can't actually vouch for the quality of all of them! I made the other selections based on what sounded interesting from their IDMB descriptions:

 

CAPTAIN BLOOD (Warner Bros, 1935) - DeHavilland's first (and best? Some would argue ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD) pairing with Errol Flynn.

 

ALIBI IKE (Warner Bros, 1935) - DeHavilland's first released film (IMDB says she shot MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM first), a screwy baseball/romantic comedy starring Joe E. Brown, a little of whom can go a long way, but I would still like to see it because of its chronological importance in her career. 

 

THE GREAT GARRICK (Warner Bros, 1937) - Plot description certainly sounds interesting. Egomaniacal London stage actor in the 1700s (Brian Aherne) realizes he's being set up for a potentially devastating prank by a troupe of French actors while he's visiting Paris and plays along with the intent of turning the tables on them. But the arrival of a lonely traveler (DeHavilland) turn everything on its ear; Aherne thinks she's part of the prank, but she's not.

 

HARD TO GET (Warner Bros, 1938) - Rich girl DeHavilland can't pay for gas. Singing gas attendant Dick Powell (ha ha ha would he play any other kind of gas attendant?) doesn't believe she's rich, makes her work of her debt by changing beds at nearby motor inn. She sets out to humiliate him by pretending to help him get a break in his dreams of becoming an architect but softens toward him as the scheme progresses. I don't think Olivia was in many musical romantic comedies. IMDB says there's a blackface number, for those who can't stand watching that sort of thing.

 

RAFFLES (Goldwyn/UA, 1939) - Remake of the Goldwyn film of the same name with Ronald Colman and Kay Francis that was less than a decade old when this one came out! This time around, it's David Niven and DeHavilland in the leads. Cricket player and clandestine cat burglar Niven has decided to stick to his day job from now on, but agrees to commit one last crime to help out an old friend. Falling in love with the friend's sister (DeHavilland) complicates things.

 

WINGS OF THE NAVY (Warner Bros, 1939) - George Brent and John Payne compete to prove who's the best pilot in the Navy and for the love of DeHavilland. The sort of thing that was probably boring DeHavilland silly by this point in her WB career, but sounds like the flight sequences are good.

 

HOLD BACK THE DAWN (Paramount, 1941) - This loan-out to Paramount is reputedly what convinced DeHavilland it was time to end her days at Warner Bros if they didn't start giving her some more substantial roles. I was glad I caught this romantic drama also starring Charles Boyer and Paulette Godard in a rare TCM airing I think sometime last year and hope TCM will show it again sometime soon.

 

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (Warner Bros, 1943) - One of those wartime cavalcade pics in which virtually all of a studio's stars make cameos. I think Eddie Cantor and Dennis Morgan are the only ones who don't play themselves, so there's some slender thread of a story. Otherwise, its Bogie, Bette, Garfield, Errol, etc., being trotted out one by one. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, here's Olivia's two minutes and 50 seconds in the film. You're welcome:

 

 

DEVOTION ( Warner Bros, 1946) - Three years after doing the above comical music number together, DeHavilland and Ida Lupino play the Bronte sisters, both in love with Paul Henreid.

 

MY COUSIN RACHEL (20th Century Fox, 1952) - If TCM has ever shown this one, I'm unaware of it. Very early Richard Burton film (his first?). Adaptation of a Daphne DuMaurier novel. DeHavilland is a mysterious Italian countess who becomes the much-younger wife and in very short order widow of Burton's father. When he comes down to Italy from England to settle the estate, he falls like a ton of bricks for DeHavilland, even though he suspects her of murder.

 

THE PROUD REBEL (Goldwyn/Disney???, 1958) - Distributed in the US, says IMDB, by Buena Vista, which is a Disney distribution company. Looks like a Disney-type family story about a boy and his dog, but also about a boy and his father, played by real-life father-and-son Alan and David Ladd. The elder Ladd is a Confederate veteran who has moved north seeking medical specialists to treat his son, who has been mute since witnessing his mother being killed in a fire. Jailed on trumped-up charges as the result of anti-Southern prejudice, he agrees to work of his sentence as a hand on a ranch owned by DeHavilland. He gets caught up in her struggles to keep the ranch out of the hands of a wealthy landowner and the incursions of menacing shepherds played by Dean Jagger and Harry Dean Stanton. I'm guessing romance blooms. Late-career picture from Michael Curtiz, with whom I'm sure DeHavilland was very familiar.

 

HUSH, HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE (20th Century Fox, 1964) - This one was being discussed recently on another thread on this board, inspiring me to include it. A showcase for Bette Davis to capitalize on the success of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (they even brought back Victor Buono), but I know a lot of people particularly like this one for the performances of DeHavilland and Mary Astor, in her final film role. Also with Cecil Kellaway, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Bruce Dern and George Kennedy.

 

 

 

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Happy birthday to the beautiful, extremely talented, elegant and completely charming Ms. de Havilland! She's in a class all her own, a true legend! 99 years old and still stunning! we need to appreciate the few true stars and legends we have the good fortune to still have with us. Paris really does a woman good! : )

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sewhite2000--agree with all your picks except one.  "Devotion" (1946) sounds great, but isn't.  Was filmed in 1943, but release was held up 3 years because it turned out so badly.  When Warner Bros. released it, it tanked at the box-office.  If I were programming, I'd like to see "The Snake Pit" (1948), where she was nominated for an Academy Award but didn't win.  JMO.  :)

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I guess TCM is saving a big Olivia tribute for next year. Surely she will be Star of the Month in July, 2016?

 

BUT had the programming reigns been handed to me today, here's a lineup of films I would have selected to highlight the broad range of Ms. DeHavilland's work, while steering clear of some of the more predictable choices (I left out GWTW and her two Oscar-winning roles, for example). I even tried to keep fiscal responsibility in mind by making more than half my selections from the TCM Library, so this could have been a day of programming that might actually have been realistic. Confession: I've only actually seen four of the 12 films I picked, so I can't actually vouch for the quality of all of them! I made the other selections based on what sounded interesting from their IDMB descriptions:

 

CAPTAIN BLOOD (Warner Bros, 1935) - DeHavilland's first (and best? Some would argue ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD) pairing with Errol Flynn.

 

ALIBI IKE (Warner Bros, 1935) - DeHavilland's first released film (IMDB says she shot MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM first), a screwy baseball/romantic comedy starring Joe E. Brown, a little of whom can go a long way, but I would still like to see it because of its chronological importance in her career. 

 

THE GREAT GARRICK (Warner Bros, 1937) - Plot description certainly sounds interesting. Egomaniacal London stage actor in the 1700s (Brian Aherne) realizes he's being set up for a potentially devastating prank by a troupe of French actors while he's visiting Paris and plays along with the intent of turning the tables on them. But the arrival of a lonely traveler (DeHavilland) turn everything on its ear; Aherne thinks she's part of the prank, but she's not.

 

HARD TO GET (Warner Bros, 1938) - Rich girl DeHavilland can't pay for gas. Singing gas attendant Dick Powell (ha ha ha would he play any other kind of gas attendant?) doesn't believe she's rich, makes her work of her debt by changing beds at nearby motor inn. She sets out to humiliate him by pretending to help him get a break in his dreams of becoming an architect but softens toward him as the scheme progresses. I don't think Olivia was in many musical romantic comedies. IMDB says there's a blackface number, for those who can't stand watching that sort of thing.

 

RAFFLES (Goldwyn/UA, 1939) - Remake of the Goldwyn film of the same name with Ronald Colman and Kay Francis that was less than a decade old when this one came out! This time around, it's David Niven and DeHavilland in the leads. Cricket player and clandestine cat burglar Niven has decided to stick to his day job from now on, but agrees to commit one last crime to help out an old friend. Falling in love with the friend's sister (DeHavilland) complicates things.

 

WINGS OF THE NAVY (Warner Bros, 1939) - George Brent and John Payne compete to prove who's the best pilot in the Navy and for the love of DeHavilland. The sort of thing that was probably boring DeHavilland silly by this point in her WB career, but sounds like the flight sequences are good.

 

HOLD BACK THE DAWN (Paramount, 1941) - This loan-out to Paramount is reputedly what convinced DeHavilland it was time to end her days at Warner Bros if they didn't start giving her some more substantial roles. I was glad I caught this romantic drama also starring Charles Boyer and Paulette Godard in a rare TCM airing I think sometime last year and hope TCM will show it again sometime soon.

 

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (Warner Bros, 1943) - One of those wartime cavalcade pics in which virtually all of a studio's stars make cameos. I think Eddie Cantor and Dennis Morgan are the only ones who don't play themselves, so there's some slender thread of a story. Otherwise, its Bogie, Bette, Garfield, Errol, etc., being trotted out one by one. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, here's Olivia's two minutes and 50 seconds in the film. You're welcome:

 

 

DEVOTION ( Warner Bros, 1946) - Three years after doing the above comical music number together, DeHavilland and Ida Lupino play the Bronte sisters, both in love with Paul Henreid.

 

MY COUSIN RACHEL (20th Century Fox, 1952) - If TCM has ever shown this one, I'm unaware of it. Very early Richard Burton film (his first?). Adaptation of a Daphne DuMaurier novel. DeHavilland is a mysterious Italian countess who becomes the much-younger wife and in very short order widow of Burton's father. When he comes down to Italy from England to settle the estate, he falls like a ton of bricks for DeHavilland, even though he suspects her of murder.

 

THE PROUD REBEL (Goldwyn/Disney???, 1958) - Distributed in the US, says IMDB, by Buena Vista, which is a Disney distribution company. Looks like a Disney-type family story about a boy and his dog, but also about a boy and his father, played by real-life father-and-son Alan and David Ladd. The elder Ladd is a Confederate veteran who has moved north seeking medical specialists to treat his son, who has been mute since witnessing his mother being killed in a fire. Jailed on trumped-up charges as the result of anti-Southern prejudice, he agrees to work of his sentence as a hand on a ranch owned by DeHavilland. He gets caught up in her struggles to keep the ranch out of the hands of a wealthy landowner and the incursions of menacing shepherds played by Dean Jagger and Harry Dean Stanton. I'm guessing romance blooms. Late-career picture from Michael Curtiz, with whom I'm sure DeHavilland was very familiar.

 

HUSH, HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE (20th Century Fox, 1964) - This one was being discussed recently on another thread on this board, inspiring me to include it. A showcase for Bette Davis to capitalize on the success of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (they even brought back Victor Buono), but I know a lot of people particularly like this one for the performances of DeHavilland and Mary Astor, in her final film role. Also with Cecil Kellaway, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Bruce Dern and George Kennedy.

Not THE HEIRESS? My choice as best performance EVER by an actress in a film.

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I received this autographed photograph of Olivia de Havilland from the lady 20 years ago.

 

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It wasn't until 20 years after the film's release that Olivia finally saw The Adventures of Robin Hood for the first time. Enchanted by the charm of the production she wrote a letter to Errol Flynn in celebration of the film, asking him to see it again, if he hadn't done so recently. However she tore the letter up, fearful that Errol might consider her silly. When he died a short while later she regretted not having sent him the letter.

 

However, their perfect fairy tale union continues to live on the screen for us whenever the film is revived.

 

Happy Birthday, Miss De Havilland.

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July 1, 2015

 

Dearest Miss De Havilland,

 

Congratulations on having reached the milestone of 99, and my best wishes go to you and your loved ones. Forgiveness is begged for not only coming to you empty handed, but also having the audacity to beg a favor of you on this, a very special day. Here it is: as the last surviving link to the greatest era in the art form of the motion picture, and a shining example of one of the best there was at the game- could you perhaps find it possible to never die?

 

This would be greatly appreciated by all of us, and if anyone can achieve this high mark- it's you.

 

Hoping you outlive us all,

 

LHF

 

Ps: don't party too hard tonight.

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My favourite de Havilland performances are:

 

The Heiress (1949)

To Each His Own (1946)

The Snake Pit (1948)

My Cousin Rachel (1952)

Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)

Princess O'Rourke (1943)

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939)

Anthony Adverse (1936)

Gone With the Wind (1939)

The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Hold Back the Dawn (1941)

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She's amazing in HOLD BACK THE DAWN, which TCM premiered a while back AND I HOPE THEY SHOW IT AGAIN SOON. The film itself is also terrific, as are Charles Boyer (who should've been Oscar nominated for his performance as well) as the fabulous Paulette Goddard*.

 

 

 

*little typo I noticed, I meant to say as IS the fabulous Paulette Goddard, and did not mean to give any of you false hope that Charles Boyer actually played Paulette Goddard in HOLD BACK THE DAWN (which in itself would be something to see.)

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Thanks for the feedback on my post, everyone. Sounds like there's some debate about the quality of DEVOTION. I'd still like to check it out. Frazier, I intentionally avoided most of Ms. DeHavilland's most famous roles just for the sake of digging a little more deeply into the catalog. Not saying my picks were her 12 greatest films, by any means (THE HEIRESS is a personal favorite of mine. I can't imagine why, but I think I rented it before there even was a TCM, and was sufficiently blown away. It was also the first Montgomery Clift film I ever saw), just a dozen film that I think would make for an entertaining and diverse day of programming. 

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Thanks for the feedback on my post, everyone. Sounds like there's some debate about the quality of DEVOTION. I'd still like to check it out.

 

I was under the impression the release of DEVOTION was delayed because of Warner's fight with De Havilland and not a quality issue, and if it was in fact not successful at the Box Office, I think that is more than likely due to a bitter Jack Warner dropping the film with little fanfare in the middle of a year that nonetheless, saw Olivia in the hit THE DARK MIRROR and winning Oscar #1 for TO EACH HIS OWN.

 

While it is nowhere near a comprehensive story on the Brontes (their whole story is really interesting)- it's still a compelling film; and while Ida Lupino is maybe not quite as good as Emily, Olivia is perfect as Charlotte (who was the prim, proper, vaguely bitchy one in the family) and she and Ida play off one another quite well.

 

I assume they got on all right too, as is evidenced in this rather funny bit from THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS, made the same year as DEVOTION, but released waaay before:

 

 

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My favorite Olivia films are:

 

The Heiress (1949)

The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

It's Love I'm After (1937)

Hold Back the Dawn (1941)

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Captain Blood (1935)

The Great Garrick (1937)

The Snake Pit (1948)

To Each His Own (1946)

Princess O'Rourke (1943)

Gone With the Wind (1939)

Dodge City (1939)

 

But yea,  I like many of her other films as well.  

 

As for Devotion;  The film is a very well made film with fine acting by Ida, Olivia and Arthur Kennedy and WB supporting players,  but the historically accuracy is off.  Way, way off.   E.g.  Emily died before Charlotte was celebrated in London as the authoress of Jane Eyre.    Devotion is preposterously glossy and fanciful. All the sisters are two well dressed and robust.  Charlotte died at 39, Emily was 30,  Anna at 24 and Branwell in his 20s. 

 

But I still recommend the film for the gothic ambience similar to Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and an interesting story, even if far from the facts. 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks Tomjh and Swithin for the wonderful pictures of Olivia.  i'm very envious of the autographed photo of Livvy and Errol from Adventures of Robin Hood.   Robert Matzen has a very nice tribute on his blog at www.robertmatzen.com.

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Olivia was so wonderful in so many films, a big  part of the reason those films are so wonderful.  Since my favorite Cagney film is THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE I guess that may also be my favorite Olivia  film. She played well opposite Cagney . Its unfortunate  she didn't do more comedic roles.

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By the way July 1st is also the birthdays of Charles Laughton (he would be 116, that's a lot of candles) and Leslie Caron ( she is only 84 years young, I hope she is doing well). And yes, a big happy birthday to that wonderful country to the north of US.

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Happy Birthday Olivia de Havilland! Please do us all a favor and get together with Angela Lansbury and Betty White and find the secret to immortality.

 

I'll admit that I didn't really know much about de Havilland prior to seeing all her collaborations with Errol Flynn. The first de Havilland (and Flynn film for that matter) that I saw was The Adventures of Robin Hood in the theater in my hometown. Since then, I've seen all of the 9 Flynn/de Havilland collaborations and a couple others with de Havilland solo. I'll admit that I haven't seen her big film, Gone With the Wind. I don't know why I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I haven't. I think it's because the film is so long. I've been waiting for a truly dreary and crappy day outside to devote 3.5 hrs to watching a movie. Right now though, Oregon has been in the middle of a ridiculous hot spell and it's been 90+ degrees for the past couple of weeks now with no end in sight. I'm waiting for the rain and cold to come back and then maybe GWTW will seem more appropriate. I've also got The Best Years Of Our Lives on standby waiting for the same conditions.

 

But I digress. This thread is about de Havilland.

 

I think my favorite of the de Havilland/Flynn films is probably The Adventures of Robin Hood with Captain Blood running a close second.

 

My favorite of de Havilland's films without Flynn that I've seen is The Heiress. I liked her in Princess O'Rourke and Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte too.

 

I'm really looking forward to de Havilland's day during SUTS. There are so many of her films I'm looking forward to. I also want to see The Strawberry Blonde in September.

 

Too bad she and Errol never got together, they were so cute.

 

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She was very lucky to be paired up with Flynn-- she could have got someone like Frank McHugh or something. Lucky duck!

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Not a heavyweight role, but I really liked her in Light in the Piazza.  She was sensitive and wise as the mother, really convincing in the delight her character took in the realization her developmentally disabled daughter could have a wonderful life in Italy.  A sweet movie, much enhanced by her presence.

 

Happy Birthday to the glorious Miss de Havilland!  

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