Saturday, February 26, 2011

Great On Screen Couples: Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier.

Laurence Olivier first met Vivien Leigh after her performance in, The Mask of Virtue(1936)and they quickly became friends. They made only three films together, but Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier worked together many times if you include their stage performances.

The first film that Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, performed together in was, Fire Over England (1937). A London Film Productions film drama, directed by William K. Howard and written by Clemence Dane from the novel Fire Over England by A. E. W. Mason. Leigh's performance in the movie helped to convince David O. Selznick to cast her as Scarlett O'Hara, in the film, Gone With the Wind. While playing lovers in the film, Olivier and Leigh fell in love in real life and began an affair. They wanted to marry, but both Leigh's husband and Olivier's wife at the time, did not want to give them a divorce. When they finally were divorced, they were married on 31 August 1940 with Katharine Hepburn and Garson Kanin as witnesses. They stayed together for over 20 years.

Another film they performed in together was, 21 Days, also known as 21 Days Together (1940). A British drama film based on the short play. It was directed by Basil Dean. It is a story about a man, who kills his lover's husband in self-defence and hides the body rather than turn himself in to the police. Then another man is arrested for murder. Now, will he turn himself in?

They're at their best as Horatio Nelson and his mistress Emma Hamilton in the film, That Hamilton Woman(1941), a historical film drama, about a scandal that was similar their own relationship. Which takes place during the Napoleonic wars, produced and directed by Alexander Korda for Alexander Korda Films.

The story begins with no where to turn, alcoholic Lady Hamilton, now in prison shares her past life with her cell mates, in a flashback: Emma, looks into a mirror and remembers, her life as the mistress of Charles Francis Greville. Greville gives Emma to Sir William, in payment for his debts. Emma, over time comes to like Sir William, who marries her. When Horatio Nelson arrives in Naples, Emma is impressed by how he is against Napoleon and his beliefs. She leaves Sir William, to live with Nelson, their life together is threatened, when Nelson decides to leave to fight in the, Battle of Trafalgar. After his death, her life falls apart.

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier were newlyweds at the time of filming and were considered the "dream couple".

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