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Michelle Pfeiffer and Grease 2

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Entries in Olivia de Havilland (25)

Thursday
Mar232017

Joan Crawford, National Puppy Day, Oscar Nights, and More...

Today is both National Puppy Day and the immortal star Joan Crawford's birthday (though the exact date i.e. year is disputed). So here is a photo combining those two wonderful things...

Joan Crawford totally loved dogs. If you do a search for "Joan Crawford puppies" or "Joan Crawford dogs" you will be surprised at how many images come up and from all decades, too, and how relaxed the famously rigid star looks with them in many of the photos...

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Monday
Mar132017

On this day: Howards End, George MacKay, '46 Oscars

A very happy quarter century to one of the best young actors working George Mackay (Captain Fantastic, Pride) born on this day in 1992. We're concocting a little series on young actors to debut soon (since we spend so much time on actresses, we'll throw a little love the other direction soon). But George's birthday isn't the only thing worth celebrating today,

Other things you can celebrate in today's showbiz history are after the jump... 

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Sunday
Mar122017

Big Little Tweetweek

The hilarious thing is she's always worked this much. Good luck to all the new completists out there at ever finishing her filmography!

After the jump Chris Hemsworth, Big Little Lies, the Gyllenhaals, film critic humor, and prayers for Barbra Streisand... 

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Monday
Sep262016

The Furniture: Bored at the Border in "Hold Back the Dawn"

"The Furniture" our weekly series on Production Design. Here's Daniel Walber

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the release of Hold Back the Dawn, the film for which Olivia de Havilland received her first Best Actress nomination. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t we have a whole month of de Havilland back in June, in the lead-up to her 100th birthday? Yes, we did. But I am here to inform you that celebrating this two-time Oscar-winner isn’t an occasional thing. It's an essential part of life.

Besides, the film is great. It’s a smart, cynical melodrama about a Romanian playboy named Georges Iscovescu (Charles Boyer), biding his time in a small Mexican town while he waits to be granted entry into the United States. It’ll be years, thanks to the National Origins Formula. Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder’s script was adapted from a story by Ketti Frings, but also took inspiration from Wilder’s own experiences as a refugee stranded by the quota system.

Fed up, Georges looks for other ways to get across. On the 4th of July he meets Emmy Brown (de Havilland), a thoroughly wholesome schoolteacher. She’s taken her students on a cross-border field trip... 

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Friday
Jul012016

Posterized: Happy Olivia de Havilland Centennial !

Photo shot last week in Paris, via People magazineHappy 100th birthday Olivia de Havilland! She's our oldest living Oscar winner  and oldest living bonafide movie star (Kirk Douglas, also still with us, is five months younger) and her list of classics is long. She may not have gotten along with her movie star sister Joan Fontaine -- their contentious relationship stretches back to childhood (it didn't start when they were Oscar-nominated against each other and Joan won) wherein she supposedly made a will at nine years old stating:

I bequeath all my beauty to my younger sister Joan, since she has none"

 ...but that infamous feud aside she was beloved by many. The list includes legends like Erroll Flynn (8 pictures together) and Bette Davis (several pictures and a friend) and actors everywhere owe her for the freedom she wrangled in the 'de Havilland decision' in the 1940s which Tim discussed in his write-up of The Heiress. I hope she feels the love in France today where she lives. She recently told Vanity Fair that she plans to live to be 110.

We still have two more pieces coming up on individual performances (why cut the bday festivities short?) but let's look at the whole filmography in poster form after the jumpHow many have you seen? 

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Wednesday
Jun292016

Olivia @ 100: Airport '77

Don't get on the plane! It's a Disaster Movie!Team Experience is looking at highlights and curios from the filmography of Olivia de Havilland for her Centennial this Friday. Here's guest contributor Sean Donovan...

Airport ’77, the third film of the Airport franchise, capitalized on the immense success of the 70s disaster movie craze in the twilight of its years. Just one year later in 1978, the critical and box office failure of Irwin Allen’s The Swarm showed how much audiences had sobered up, no longer excited by disaster movies and more interested in openly mocking them, based on their cheesy acting and overwrought destruction (a movement chronicled by Ken Feil in his worth-the-read book Dying for a Laugh: Disaster Movies and the Camp Imagination). So if something feels lacking and obligatory about Airport ’77- in which a botched hijacking lands a Boeing 747 in the ocean, the passengers struggling to get back to land safely- that’s only because the film presents a crew of movie stars eager to cash their checks and get out as quick as possible. 

Among them is our honored centennial, Ms. Olivia de Havilland! And who can blame her for dipping into the disaster movie depths?

Her generational cohort Shelley Winters scored an Oscar nomination for being the token old lady to brave disaster (at the age of 52, but that’s Hollywood), in the genre-defining The Poseidon AdventureOlder actresses like Helen Hayes, Gloria Swanson, and Myrna Loy had already wandered into the Airport franchise, Hayes walking away with an Oscar for her efforts. As an aging member of Hollywood royalty in the 1970s, it seems one of your duties was to class up a trashy disaster film with your mere presence... 

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Tuesday
Jun282016

Olivia @ 100: Light in the Piazza

For Olivia de Havilland's Centennial (July 1st) we're hitting classics and curios in her career. Here's Chris Feil on a forgotten film that became a new classic musical...

I came to Olivia de Havilland's work in Light in the Piazza thanks to a (still enduring) obsession with the Adam Guettel musical, both adapted from Elizabeth Spencer's novella. While it's not surprising that the film hasn't endured (it lacks the stage version's soaring emotional heights), de Havilland's performance deserves a better place in her legacy. Even with a youthful love story as its center and gorgeous Florence as backdrop, you can't take your eyes off of the concerned mother - and not just because she spends the entire film drenched in custom Christian Dior!

As Meg Johnson, de Havilland is spending a holiday with her young daughter Clara, who falls in love with a charming Italian boy. The reason for her overbearing concern is the secret of Clara's developmental disability that freezes her to a childlike disposition - something the musical uses as an Act Two reveal that the film never hides. By addressing this conflict early on we understand Meg from the outset, especially thanks to the actress's relatability. De Havilland's real prowess in the role is her deep emotional access and intelligence; she keeps the film from stooping to the cheap sentimentality that's all too common in films about disability.

Her Meg is not simply a foil to Clara's love story. De Havilland is telling her own fading romance with her husband, projecting the aches and heartbreaks of their lifetime together in a very specific struggle of weathered marriage. Her dissent against her husband in regards to Clara's care could cause the end of her marriage or may be its only hope, but she plays it solely as selfless motherly affection. Meg's final "I did the right thing" would be hokey final note in the hands of a less soulful actress, de Havilland makes it a hard-won personal triumph with her pure connection to character.

Victoria Clark may have taken the character to glorious Tony winning vocal heights on stage, but this performance is emotionally transformative in its own way. The film may have been forgotten in the broader de Havilland filmography, but the star is in top form and as accessible as ever.

Previously: The Heiress (1949), The Dark Mirror (1946), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and It's Love I'm After (1937).