First Cousin to Cinderella
By Maude M. Miller
Hollywood magazine, September 1939
*Donated to vivandlarry.com by Meredith
A pair of green eyes gazes steadily but with a suggestion of good-natured defiance at the huge man with the lazy smile and the green shirt, otherwise known as the Assistant Director.
“So you want to be an actress? And you’d like some dialogue? And you think it’s as simple as all that…?” The smile seemed to become lazier and the green shirt greener.
Maybe it was a reflected glare from the green eyes of the speaker. We shall never know. Not that it matters now. If, however, glances could wither, the green-shirt-owner would have had a faded garment as a souvenir of the occasion.
“I am an actress. And I shall have some dialogue.”
Green-eyes was not boasting. She had no idea of being bombastic or difficult. Assurance was hers by the Divine Right of Youth. By the unquestioning faith that her word would be believed, and that her wishes fulfilled because they were both worthy of fulfilment.
Making my bow on TV
by Vivien Leigh (as told to D.H. Cousins)
TV Times, March 13, 1959
Television is like a tinder-box that fires imagination, and to an actress this can only be a challenge.
Though, of course, it will never oust the theatre, television has the advantage of reach, and brings to acting the immediacy, the now or never, the win or lose inevitability of, say, the Wimbledon tennis finals, the Derby or the Cup Final.
Unlike film-making when, if a scene is not quite right the director orders a re-take, in a television performance the director can no more call “cut” than a tennis umpire can sponge out the score. In both tennis and television, the play goes on with all the excitement of immediate, concentrated effort.
Fortunately, the comparison with Wimbledon ends here – the actors are not (or should not be!) competing against one another.
There is no denying, though, that to an actress television is a challenge, and who could resist a challenge?
One of the most rewarding things about maintaining this website is meeting kindred spirits. Anthony and I met through vivandlarry.com years ago and had a passing acquaintance on Facebook. We finally hung out in person when I moved to north London two years ago. He and his partner lived nearby. We immediately bonded over our love for Vivien Leigh and classic cinema. He studies film, as well, and knows more than I do about a lot of stars of Hollywood’s golden age. He is also really good at impersonating film characters. When he started quoting The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (not just Warren Beatty, but Vivien Leigh and Coral Browne, too) I laughed so hard I cried. We became instant friends.
Anthony has been studying abroad in Rome since October and this week I finally got a chance to go and visit him. It was my first trip to Italy, and because we share so many of the same interests, I was happy to let Anthony show me around! Here are photos from day 1 of my visit.
Studies in Scarlett
by Gavin Lambert
The Sunday Times, December 30, 1973
Early in 1936 David Selznick received from his story editor in New York a long synopsis of a long forthcoming novel. It was called Gone With the Wind and nobody had ever heard of the author. The story editor, Kay Brown, strongly urged him to buy the rights at once.
He didn’t. Although tempted by the material, he knew that movies about the Civil War were usually commercial failures. He turned it down, then had second thoughts for six weeks. Finally he made an offer which was accepted, went to Hawaii for a vacation with his wife and read the novel he’d bought. He returned to Hollywood to find it a runaway best seller and already part of the national psyche.
Having decided that George Cukor should direct the picture, Selznick’s first thoughts about casting were directed toward Rhett Butler, not Scarlett O’Hara. He wanted Clark Gable, but the star was under contract to MGM. His father-in-law, Louis B. Mayer, was still angry because Selznick had previously left the studio to form his own company and refused a sumptuous offer to go back. Reluctant to deal with this difficult potentate again, Selznick fell back on his second choice, Gary Cooper. He approached Sam Goldwyn, to whom the actor was under contract, and met an unblanketed refusal. He next thought Errol Flynn, at the time the movies’ top swashbuckler. Warner Brothers, who owned his contract, offered a package instead of a refusal. Bette Davis, also owned by the studio, had began an ardent campaign for the part of Scarlett the moment she heard Selznick was going to produce the movie. Jack Warner was prepared to make her part of the deal.
Selznick was seriously tempted, but not Davis. Desperate though she might be, she wouldn’t play Scarlett to Errol Flynn’s Rhett. Jack Warner broke off negotiations; Selznick, after considering Warner Baxter and Ronald Colman for a few minutes, reluctantly admitted to himself that gable was a necessity. He went back to MGM, faced his triumphant father-in-law, and was met by some not unexpected stiff terms. MGM would lend Gable at a figure considerably above his usual salary, and provide half the financing in return for world distribution rights and half of the total profits.
Since Selznick’s company had a contract with United Artists to distribute all his pictures until the end of 1938, Gone With the Wind could not be released by MGM until after that time. It was not October, 1936. Selznick’s next problem was how to keep public interest alive in his project for the next two years.
VivAndLarry.com is an historical archive and film blog dedicated to preserving the memories of classic screen and stage stars Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, and to the discussion of classic Hollywood and world cinemas. The site is designed and edited by Kendra Bean, a film scholar, writer and photographer living in London. What you'll find here: A cabinet of curiosities brimming with vintage articles, video footage, the largest archive of Vivien Leigh and/or Laurence Olivier photos on the Web, and much, much more.
This site is updated frequently, so pull up a chair and stay a while! Or, subscribe to be notified whenever new posts are made.
The current header was designed and drawn by the brilliant Laura Loveday.
Read Vivien Leigh: Becoming Scarlett by Kendra Bean in issue no. 75 of Bright Lights Film Journal
Read Kendra's article Style Icon: Vivien Leigh at The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower
My running list of films watched in 2013.
- academia (6)
- articles (19)
- book news (2)
- books (8)
- cinema archive (20)
- cinema experiences (9)
- classic film (54)
- collecta-belle (7)
- contests (3)
- documentaries (4)
- events (20)
- film diary (11)
- friends of the oliviers (3)
- general discussion (44)
- gone with the wind (15)
- guest post (10)
- interviews (3)
- laurence olivier (44)
- link love (2)
- lists (12)
- london (36)
- photography (46)
- reviews (7)
- screentests (3)
- site updates (8)
- the oliviers (57)
- theatre (8)
- travel (28)
- tv appearances (5)
- video post (2)
- vivien leigh (87)
- vlogs (7)