Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Great Film Performances: Vivien Leigh - Gone With The Wind
A truly remarkable performance that is just uncanny. Vivien Leigh portrayal of Scarlett O'Hara in the monumental classic film Gone With The Wind is pretty much perfection. She was only 25 when she was cast in the role that nearly every actress in Hollywood auditioned for. Leigh had only appeared in 9 films, all smaller English films before the chance to play Scarlett came along. I know it's always said once you see an actor or actress in a certain part, that you couldn't imagine anyone else doing the role any better. But in this case of Leigh, I don't see how anyone else would even come close to matching the performance that Leigh does in this film. Leigh has never been better as she was when playing Scarlett. Her character really dominates the film, which is saying a lot when you have a 4 hour epic and your co-star is Clark Gable, who is no slouch himself as dashing Rhett Butler. And the supporting cast is as good as any for an epic film of this size. With Olivia de Havilland as the saintly Melanie; Leslie Howard as Ashley; and Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. But it all comes back to Leigh who is fiery, passionate, charming, and manipulative in a positively electric performance. What makes Scarlett such an intriguing character to me is the fact that she is oblivious to those around her who think of her as this scheming wench. But through all the trials and dangers she face, Scarlett is able to come through it as a hard fought survivor, which makes her a better person. Leigh deservedly won an Oscar for her stunning performance and became one of Hollywood's biggest female stars. Her career post Wind never did really skyrocket but she did win another Oscar for A Streetcar Named Desire, which was another solid performance. But I love her Scarlett O'Hara just a little bit more. TCM recently played Gone With The Wind in celebration of Wind's 70th anniversary and the movie is better than ever. Bolstered by Leigh's undeniable center of the universe performance. One of the best to grace the silver screen ever.