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Vivien Leigh 100th
Scarlett O’Hara. Blanche DuBois. Anna Karenina. Cleopatra. All of these
larger-than-life characters were portrayed on screen by British actress Vivien
Leigh (born November 5, 1913, in Darjeeling, West Bengal, British India).
Though she was fated to be best remembered for the iconic roles of Scarlett
and Blanche that almost-but-don’t quite bookend her lengthy-but-not-prolific film
career—that, and her starry but ultimately ill-fated marriage to fellow thespian
Laurence Olivier—Leigh’s career includes many less-iconic films—which is not
to say
—with roles that further illuminate the considerable charm of this
beautiful, talented, wickedly intelligent and electrifyingly emotive actress.
On the recent occasion of Leigh’s centennial, AFI Silver presents this wide-
ranging retrospective of her most beloved films, including several hidden gems
from her early career in the UK.
NOTE: GONE WITH THE WIND has been withdrawn from circulation pending its 75th anniversary re-release.
AFI Silver plans to screen the film later this year.
AFI Member passes accepted at all films in the Vivien Leigh series.
February 8–April 17
Sat, Feb 8, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Feb 9, 11:00 a.m.
Famous for being the first pairing of Vivien Leigh and eventual
husband Laurence Olivier, this film is a spirited retelling of the
Elizabethan era’s greatest military triumph, the defeat of the
Spanish Armada, following on years of spycraft and court
intrigue. Flora Robson makes for a formidable Queen Elizabeth
I, whose dedicated subject, Michael Ingolby (Laurence Olivier),
volunteers for a dangerous undercover mission to infiltrate the
Spanish court and identify spies. Vivien Leigh is the Queen’s
beautiful lady-in-waiting Cynthia, for whom Ingolby has eyes.
Look for an uncredited James Mason as the unlucky spy
executed in the film’s opening scene.
DIR William K. Howard; SCR Clemence
Dane, Sergei Nolbandov, from the novel by A. E. W. Mason; PROD Alexander Korda, Erich Pommer.
UK, 1937, b&w, 92 min. NOT RATED
Fri, Feb 21, 5:15; Sun, Feb 23, 11:05 a.m.
Upstart English journo Rex Harrison, recently transplanted to
smalltown Scotland, finds muck to rake in the affairs of flinty
local official Cecil Parker, who has cruelly ordered that the
beloved pooch of poor Sara Allgood, unable to afford her dog
license, be destroyed. Harrison’s human interest story—Save
Scruffy!—becomes a cause célèbre, causing the ootraged
Caledonian to fire back with a slander suit against Harrison,
even as Parker’s pretty daughter Vivien Leigh finds her interest
piqued by the intrepid Englishman.
DIR/PROD Victor Saville; DIR/SCR Ian
Dalrymple; SCR Donald Bull. UK, 1937, b&w, 87 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 22, 11:00 a.m.; Thu, Mar 27, 5:15
In this much more polite remake of James Whale’s pre-Code
classic, Vivien Leigh’s Myra Lester turns to prostitution only after
receiving word that her aristocratic officer fiancé Roy Cronin
(Robert Taylor) has been killed in the trenches of WWI. When
he turns up alive after a year’s convalescence in a POW
hospital, their reunion is bittersweet—will Roy forgive Myra for
her desperate wartime indiscretions? More importantly, will
Myra forgive herself? Leigh’s personal favorite of her films.
Mervyn LeRoy; SCR S. N. Behrman, Hans Rameau, George Froeschel, from the play by Robert E.
Sherwood; PROD Sidney Franklin. US, 1940, b&w, 108 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 15, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Mar 16, 11:05 a.m.
King of the London buskers Charles Laughton takes on promising
protégé (and accomplished pickpocket) Vivien Leigh. After
theater impresario Rex Harrison catches their act on the street,
he invites them to a legit theater after-party—perhaps their ticket
to the big time. A larger stage beckons, but where do these
performers feel most at home?
DIR/SCR Tim Whelan; SCR Bartlett Cormack,
Clemence Dane; SCR/PROD Erich Pommer, Charles Laughton. UK, 1938, b&w, 85 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 15, 11:10 a.m.; Sun, Feb 16, 11:10 a.m.
WWI spy intrigue in Stockholm, as Swiss dress shop proprietor
Vivien Leigh—secretly a German spy, and even-more-secretly
a double agent for the French—matches wits and captures the
heart of supposedly retired German naval officer Conrad Veidt,
who’s secretly the Kaiser’s man in Sweden.
DIR/PROD Victor Saville; SCR
Lajos Biró, Arthur Wimperis; PROD Alexander Korda. UK, 1937, b&w, 77 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 1, 11:05 a.m.; Sun, Mar 2, 11:05 a.m.
Unworldly American Robert Taylor gets the hazing treatment
from the old boys at Cardinal College, Oxford, but stands his
ground and eventually earns some hard-earned respect in the
classroom, on the athletic fields and, triumphantly, on the River
Thames in the big boat race. Maureen O’Sullivan plays his
sweet-natured love interest, while Vivien Leigh steals scenes
as the married tutor who takes an intense interest in some of
the boys’ affairs.
DIR Jack Conway; SCR Malcolm Stuart Boylan, Walter Ferris, George
Oppenheimer; PROD Michael Balcon. UK, 1938, b&w, 102 min. NOT RATED
Sun, Mar 23, 11:05 a.m.; Mon, Mar 24, 5:15
Terence Rattigan’s celebrated West End play was brought to
the big screen in a big way by the Alexander Korda team,
in Technicolor and CinemaScope, with Vivien Leigh starring
as emotionally unstrung Hester Collyer (Peggy Ashcroft
originated the role on stage). Despairing over her loutish lover
Kenneth More’s dissolute ways and unwilling to return to her
dull marriage with high-born attorney Emlyn Williams, Leigh
attempts suicide. Saved by neighbor Eric Portman, an alcoholic
ex-doctor, Leigh returns to life with a more independent
DIR/PROD Anatole Litvak; SCR Terence Rattigan, from his play. UK, 1955,
color, 96 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Mar 29, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Mar 30, 11:00 a.m.
The real-life newlywed couple
of Vivien Leigh and Laurence
Olivier stars in the tragic
tale of Emma Lady Hamilton
and Lord Horatio Nelson’s
adulterous affair. Set during
the era of the Napoleonic
Wars, and sumptuously
mounted by master showman
Alexander Korda, this is
old-fashioned, epic screen
romance of the highest order.
A personal favorite of Winston Churchill’s—he much preferred
it to that year’s “pretentious” CITIZEN KANE.
DIR/PROD Alexander Korda;
SCR Walter Reisch, R. C. Sherriff. UK, 1941, b&w, 128 min. NOT RATED
Print courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Mon, Apr 7, 9:30; Tue, Apr 8, 9:30; Wed, Apr 9, 4:20
Leigh returns to Tennessee Williams territory in this adaptation
of the celebrated playwright’s lone novella. Aging theater
actress Karen Stone (Leigh) leaves New York and professional
disappointment behind for an Italian getaway with her beloved
husband, but tragedy strikes when he dies en route. Unwilling
to return home, the grieving actress rents a fabulous villa;
concerned over her emotional state, her best friend Meg (Coral
Browne) arranges for some local company, calling on dissolute
Contessa Magda Terribili-Gonzales (Lotte Lenya)—a procuress
of gigoli—who introduces Karen to smoldering, sneering young
hunk Paolo (Warren Beatty).
DIR José Quintero; SCR Gavin Lambert, from the
novella by Tennessee Williams; PROD Louis De Rochemont. US, 1961, color, 103 min. NOT RATED
Sun, Apr 6, 11:30 a.m.; Mon, Apr 7, 7:10
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy
in its own way.” Leigh gives an edgy, emotional charge to
her performance as Anna in Alexander Korda’s handsomely
appointed postwar version of Tolstoy’s great tragedy. With Ralph
Richardson, Kieron Moore, Martita Hunt and Sally Ann Howes.
Costumes by Cecil Beaton; sumptuous photography by Henri
DIR/SCR Julien Duvivier; SCR Jean Anouilh, Guy
Morgan, from the novel by Leo Tolstoy; PROD Alexander Korda. UK, 1948, b&w, 112 min. NOT RATED
#45 on
AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies
Sat, Apr 12, 11:00 a.m.; Sun, Apr 13, 11:00 a.m.;
Thu, Apr 17, 7:00
"Stella! Stelllaaaa!" Faded Southern belle Vivien Leigh's Blanche
DuBois is destroyed by brutish brother-in-law Marlon Brando's
Stanley Kowalski. For the film version of Tennessee Williams's
play, Kazan retained his claustrophobic setting and three of
the four principals from the award-winning Broadway smash,
replacing Jessica Tandy in favor of Leigh from Laurence Olivier's
London production. (It took Kazan two weeks to break her of
doing it "Larry's way.") Twelve Oscar nominations and four wins:
Best Actress for Leigh, Best Supporting Oscars for Kim Hunter as
Stella and Karl Malden as Mitch, and Art Direction. "No better,
more powerful film of a play exists."—David Shipman.
DIR Elia Kazan;
SCR Tennessee Williams, from his play; PROD Charles K. Feldman. US, 1951, b&w, 122 min. RATED PG
Blond-haired, blue-eyed, tall and athletically built, Burt Lancaster looked every
inch the tailor-made American movie star. But his long and celebrated film career
embodies multiple contradictions: improbable good fortune after the most belated
of discoveries (he made his screen debut, as the doomed Swede in film noir classic
THE KILLERS, at 32, after WWII service and years knocking about as a circus
acrobat), nearly immediate independence and financial clout (spurning an exclusive
studio contract, the suddenly in-demand star began his own production company—
then an innovation, and more typically the province of established stars like James
Stewart—which generated hit after hit through the 1950s), and a refreshing counter-
intuitiveness to his decision-making (following his early tough guy and swashbuckler
successes, Lancaster pursued nebbishy roles to expand his range; he played several
memorable villains, unthinkable for other box office stars; and from THE LEOPARD to
productions and New Wave-influenced American arthouse pictures, daring projects most of his peers wouldn’t
dream of risking their reputations—or exposing their limitations—on).
Following close on Lancaster’s centennial birthday on November 2, 2013, AFI Silver presents this extensive
retrospective of the films of one of America’s great leading men.
AFI Member passes accepted at all films in the Burt Lancaster series.
February 7–April 17
Burt Lancaster, Part 1
Fri, Feb 7, 9:40; Sat, Feb 8, 2:45
The film that's been called the CITIZEN KANE of film noir. It's
all here: murder, betrayal, lust, flashbacks, sumptuous visuals,
double- and triple-crosses, whipcrack dialogue…and sexy
young'uns Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner erupting into
stardom. (Note courtesy of Noir City)
DIR Robert Siodmak; SCR Anthony
Veiller, from the short story by Ernest Hemingway; PROD Mark Hellinger. US, 1946, b&w, 103
Sun, Feb 9, 3:00; Wed, Feb 12, 6:30 (Montgomery College
"Men caged on the inside…Driven by the thought of their
women on the loose!" Jules Dassin's hard-hitting prison drama
remains a touchstone of the genre, with desperation-driven
intensity that explodes into a chaotic breakout-cum-battle
royale. Suffering under the heel of sadistic cell block guard
Hume Cronyn, inmate Burt Lancaster bides his time and
plans his escape. The screenplay is by future director Richard
Brooks; William Daniels' photography and Miklós Rózsa's
music imbue the atmosphere with an artful foreboding.
DIR Jules
Dassin; SCR Richard Brooks, story by Robert Patterson; PROD Mark Hellinger. US, 1947, b&w,
98 min. NOT RATED
Sat, Feb 15, 3:00; Tue, Feb 18, 9:15
A tangle of love triangles brings strife to the desert town of
Chuckawalla, Nevada, in this Technicolor noir. Lizabeth Scott
drops out of school and becomes mixed up with gangster John
Hodiak, the former flame of her saloon keeper mother Mary
Astor. Also disapproving of the union for their own reasons are
Scott’s ex, sheriff’s deputy Burt Lancaster, and Hodiak’s sidekick,
Wendell Corey, setting the scene for escalating and incendiary
confrontations. Screenplay by Robert Rossen and an uncredited
A. I. “Buzz” Bezzerides.
DIR Lewis Allen; SCR Robert Rossen, from the novel “Desert
Town” by Ramona Stewart; PROD Hal B. Wallis. US, 1947, color, 96 min. NOT RATED
Sun, Feb 16, 3:00; Wed, Feb 19, 5:15; Thu, Feb 20, 7:00
"The savage drama
of an amazing
double double-
cross!" This follow-up
to smash hit THE
KILLERS reteams
director Robert
Siodmak with star
Burt Lancaster,
who once again
finds himself on
the short side of
a deadly love
triangle. Lancaster
returns to his native
Los Angeles after a
year of wandering
and bumps into
ex-wife Yvonne
De Carlo, who
seems interested
in rekindling their
relationship, though
she has just married gangster Dan Duryea. Soon the still-smitten
Lancaster is drawn into Duryea's criminal orbit, planning an
armored car heist and scheming to run off with De Carlo, but
completely unaware that the others may be looking to leave him
holding the bag.
DIR Robert Siodmak; SCR Daniel Fuchs, from the novel by Don Tracy;
PROD Michael Kraike. US, 1949, b&w, 88 min, 35mm. NOT RATED
Courtesy of Universal
Courtesy of Kendra Bean
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Courtesy of MGM
Courtesy of MGM
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