The passing of Olivia De Havilland at age 104 marks the loss of one of the last of the remaining stars of the Old Hollywood Era. It also made me realize that I tragically had actually never seen anything she was in. I of course knew of her, but mainly as Joan Fontaine’s sister (please don’t kill me) and a living legend who was still out riding bicycles and living her best life.
So I thought I owed it to De Havilland’s legacy to watch something of hers to honor per passing and her legacy. I ended up watching two vastly different films from different decades. They weren’t the ones you’d immediately think of. While De Havilland is well known for some of the most popular films of Old Hollywood such as “Gone with the Wind” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” I honestly based my decision off of what was already in my watch list. Both films ended up offering a great insight on her range and talent.
IT’S LOVE I’M AFTER (1937)
This had been recommended to me by a dear friend who knows my love of Shakespeare and screwball comedies. It stars Leslie Howard and Bette Davis as a couple quarreling through acting in a stage production of “Romeo and Juliet.” De Havilland swoops in as a gal smitten with Howard via his performance and starts causing problems all around.
She’s only 21 in this. A baby. But she clearly understands the youthful infatuation of her character. How sure we can be of “love” one minute and then have a completely different understanding the next. Aside from all that, it’s also just hilarious. Everyone brings delicious antics anticipated from the screwball genre. A delightful watch.
This one was on my list because of, admittedly, a man. One of my recent coping mechanisms for the state of this world has been fixating on the filmography a dead gay English actor named Dirk Bogarde. In “Libel,” Bogarde plays duel roles, one of whom may be impersonating the other after World War 2 to gain his wealthy lifestyle.
De Havilland plays the wife of, well you just have to find out if it’s really him or not. She brings a great depth to the role starting out as a devoted wife and then slowly questioning if this is truly the man she fell in love with or not. There’s a particularly powerful scene in which she is convinced of the latter. De Havilland brings a great strength in the betrayal her character feels.
I wholly enjoyed both of the films that served as my introduction to the now late, great De Havilland. We’ll see how many other films I can get through before actually watching “Gone with the Wind” just because I think it’s hilarious when people get mad at me for never seeing it. Either way, the world lost a legend and I intended to further educate myself on her filmography.