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ACADEMY TRIBUTE TO OLIVIA DEHAVILLAND


edgeciff
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Jack Burley, usually there are about a dozen or so people outside the theatre on these events, but for the DeHavilland night I expect several dozen, so I don't know whether its worth the trip to Beverly Hills.

 

Incidently, in today's LA Times (6/11) there is a nice article on DeHavilland who was interviewed by Kevin Thomas for this piece. She is now in town ready for her tribute by the Academy on Thursday. DeHaviland talks about her film career and some of the wonderful roles she had. She especially pays tribute to the now forgotten director Mitchell Leisen. Liesen was one of Paramount top directors in the 1940s. DeHavilland insisted on Leisen to direct her in HOLD BACK THE DAWN. a role for which she was nominated for an Oscar and also for her Oscar winning part in TO EACH HIS OWN. (Universal holds the rights to these two films but has yet to release either one on DVD. Universal wake up!!!!). Thomas asked DeHavilland if she could be tempted to return to the screen. The actress stated "It has to be a good part for me and a good director as well." But at age 90 one would doubt if this great actress will ever make another film. DeHavilland left a legacy of so many classics there is no need for her to ever make another film.

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I just got back from the Academy Tribute to DeHavilland, and all I can say that the audience members fell in love with Miss DeH, and she with them. A lovely, lovely time, and the Lady was quite moving in her thanks for being so honored and remembered.

 

Afterward I had a very nice conversation with TCM's own Bob Osborne (who hosted the event), with whom I shared a mutual friend (now deceased). Osborne was quite gracious in the time he devoted to any and all who sought him out.

 

By the way, there were about 120 people on the standby line; about fifty of them got in (meaning only fifty no-shows out of 1800 tickets sold in advance. Quite a tribute to her, in itself).

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Hello Cinesage,

 

Glad you made it to that very important tribute.

Did you notice whether any TV crews or film crews were filming this for future presentation?

I think, since Robert Osborne was there, that it should be featured on TCM in some capacity.

 

I take it Joan didn't show up!!

 

Larry

 

Message was edited by:

vecchiolarry

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Hi Larry and Cinesage,

 

CineSage, I was thinking about you last night and hoping you were enjoying the evening. I am so glad that you did! And now my little sponge, give forth - what was our Miss DeH wearing, what color was her outfit, how was her hair styled? Details, man, details!

 

-Susan

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Susan, I'm not Adrian, nor Mitchell Leisen, nor Vincente Minnelli, nor Sidney Guilaroff, nor Isaac Mizrahi. Like most (straight) males, I'm fairly clueless about women's clothing and hairstyles (and, since I'm apparently now a sponge, as Spencer Tracy's Henry Drummond demanded in INHERIT THE WIND, I have the right to think!).

 

I will say that Miss deH was wearing a cream-colored skirt-suit, and had her hair up in what a Los Angeles Times's article about her described as an "impeccable French twist" (for whatever that's worth).

 

And Vecchio, there were local L.A. TV news crews there, as well as videographers hired by the Academy. There will certainly be a tape of the evening in the organization's archives, but I can't say whether any of us will get a chance to see it outside the Academy's walls. It's hard tgo imagine, though, that some portion of it won't make it to TCM in the not-too-distant future, especially since the evening's host was Bob Osborne.

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Susan and others: For a detailed and glowing report on the evening, check out the Olivia de Havilland Message Board at IMDb.

 

Someone with a screen name of Mayesgwtw39 has a thread called "Academy tribute--a Report" and he/she gives a detailed description of the whole event. Well worth reading and it sounds like it was a great success--too bad so many had to be turned away from the stand-bys.

 

Neil

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DeHavilland made her appearance at tonight's screening of THE HEIRESS at the L.A. County Museum of Art, at which she was, if anything, even more engaging and charming than she was at the Academy tribute last Thursday (of course, this evening I was in the scond row, whereas I was much farther back at the Academy).

 

Close-up she sure looked like the same Olivia her fans have come to know and love from her films, and one could not help but be struck by the genuine twinkle in her eyes and delight at having an audience who cared about the life she's lived, and the thoughts she consented to share with us.

 

She was self-deprecating, almost apologizing for being above her weight at her prime, though what a number of those of us up front couldn't help but notice is that this 90-year-old lady still has a pretty darn fetching pair of legs!

 

And for Susan, Miss deH was wearing a silver-blue skirt-suit with pearls, pearls, pearls at the neck, some of which had t have been the size of robbins' eggs (and you can bet they're real, too).

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CineSage: Can you share with us whether there was a Q&A session with Olivia. Did she express any thoughts on playing Catherine Sloper or have anything to say about her co-stars??? Was Robert Osborne there too?

 

A friend of mine attended the Academy tribute (she's been corresponding with Olivia over the last 13 years and was put on Olivia's guest list with a pair of tickets reserved for her). She too had nothing but praise for the first event and did get a brief chance to speak with Olivia in the reception area. Sounds like the audience had a good time!

 

Neil

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There was no interaction with the audience at either event, if that's what you mean. All the questions posed to her by Osborne (and, I presume, the host at the Museum) were approved by her in advance.

 

Robert Osborne wasn't at the L.A.County Museum HEIRESS screening, owing to his having to be in Atlanta on TCM business.

 

Of course, I wasn't taking notes or making recordings at the screening, but the recollection of Miss deH's that sticks with me is her going to New York to see the then-new Ruth & Augustus Goetz play on Broadway (at the suggestion of director Lewis "Milly" Milestone), with Wendy Hiller as Catherine (and old ROBIN HOOD 'nemesis' Basil Rathbone as Dr Sloper).

 

While she was very complimentary toward Hiller's performance, she says ahe knew immediately that Hiller's stylized approach wouldn't work on film, and that she began to mentally formulate her approach to the material immediately (with, of course, no guarantee that she'd be able to secure the rights to the play).

 

She apporached several directors she'd worked with in the past, including George Cukor, but they all had commitments that prevented them from joining her in trying to mount a film of the property. She then thought of William Wyler, with whom sher'd never worked, but whose films she'd long admired. At her urging, he left for New York to see the play, while she "waited in my kitchen for Willy to call.'

 

He did and, DeHavilland related, said "I saw it, I liked it; let's do it."

 

It's a good thing he did, too, because THE HEIRESS is, in my opinion, his masterpiece (from a director who made a habit and career of crafting masterpieces).

 

As for your friend, that was my mistake. I should've begun a correspondence with her thirteen years ago; that way I wouldn't have had the trouble I encountered finding a ticket (and would probably have gotten fed at the reception).

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Thanks for your excellent report.

 

I can easily picture Basil Rathbone as Dr. Sloper if Ralph Richardson had not been available. Also, it's interesting to note the nice interplay between Rathbone and Olivia on the set of ROBIN HOOD, according to all the candid photos I've seen and the behind-the-scenes footge on the DVD. Obviously, he was very fond of her. I recall reading his autobiography where he mentioned his first appearance opposite her in CAPTAIN BLOOD: "You can't possibly imagine a more enchantingly beautiful young girl."

 

I'm grateful that she found Wyler willing to do the film, as I agree that it ranks among his very best.

 

Neil

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Let me also say thanks, CineSage, Jr. I certainly can see Ol' Nasal Bathrobe as Dr. Sloper, drawing upon his excellent portayals of the cruel Karenin and the mean Mr. Murdstone. I saw the theatrical revival of The Heiress with Cherry Jones as Catherine and cannot remember who portrayed Dr. Sloper, that tells you something doesn't it?

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