Out of the Forest

April 12, 2007, 6:20 pm
Filed under: old movies


Olivia de Haviland is one of my favorite Hollywood actresses from the 1930’s and 40’s.  Its hard to explain why, exactly.  Perhaps because her most famous role, as Melanie in Gone With the Wind, is so defining that you expect her to be that same sweet, naive and selfless character in real life (though her long-standing feud with sister Joan Fontaine leads me to think this may be otherwise).  And she played similar “good” characters with considerable frequncy.  Of course, she also used this sweet reputation to her advantage when playing “bad” characters.  In my opinion, no one drops the guise of sweetness to reveal cold cruelty better than de Haviland, and it works mostly because it is so unexpected.

Her best performance, for which she won her second Oscar, is in 1949’s The Heiress, based on Henry James’s Washington Square, and also starring Montgomery Clift and Ralph Richardson.  In the film, Olivia plays a plain and rather boring young heiress, who desparately seeks romance and the approval of her father.  There are suprises in the plot that I don’t want to reveal, but suffice it to say de Haviland gets to show both her sweet and cruel sides in this film.

If you’ve not seen the film, I highly recommend you do.  Happily for us all, it is finally out on DVD.


1 Comment so far
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I LOVE this movie! I also love the ending! She is so smart!

Comment by moviesmusic

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