This post is totally random, but I was just watching a few clips of Gone With The Wind last night and I was just so blown away, especially this one.
Till today, Vivien Leigh’s performance as Scarlett O’Hara is widely regarded as the greatest performance by an actress of all time. Of course, my heart will ALWAYS give that title to her Blanche Dubois, but while I was watching this scene I was just so blown away.
“I’m not cornered. You’ll never corner me, Rhett Butler, or frighten me. You lived in dirt for so long you can’t understand anything else. And you’re jealous of something else you can’t understand. Good night.”
Just observe her expressions when he is clutching her head, and see how it transits from being fearful to cold and hateful. We don’t actually realise how naturally Vivien Leigh developed the character, so much so that despite the huge and dark changes in her personality, we have no problems believing this is the same playful, manipulative, flirtatious and fake girl at the beginning of the film. It’s a true indication of how deep she got into the mind of this character, and how masterfully layered her performance really is. I mean, a lesser actress would have turned the performance into 101 different Scarlett O’Haras because of the various changes the character undergoes, but Leigh always suggests that this is the same girl right from the beginning of the film, while portraying her changes at the same time. Amazing work by a brilliant actress.
Her chemistry with Clark Gable is beyond amazing, and the developments in their relationships are handled so magnificently. Just compare their relationship in the two clips. What was initially a playful flirtation and manipulation (2nd Clip) ends up being a tragic, hateful and loveless marriage, and yet at the same time you can always feel how much these two needed each other, despite their unwillingness to admit so.
Of course, there are some dated aspects to Gone With The Wind that may have affected some people’s (mine occasionally, admittedly) appreciation of Leigh’s performance. Some of the lines are a bit corny and her performance can be a bit theatrical, but her inhibition of this role (she was Scarlett O’ Hara) is just so amazing that we are more than willing to overlook these microscopic flaws. And let’s face it; Scarlett O’ Hara is a theatrical character, she’s fake and manipulative, and she knows damn bloody well how to manipulate men with her over-the-top tantrums. Vivien Leigh found the right balance, making the theatrical style believable.
I know this post is totally random, and yet I think it really shows the strength of Leigh’s performance; just watching one clip on YouTube alone, and that cold “Good night“, is enough for me to write an entire post on it.
Ok ok, while I’m at it.
Best Picture 1978
The Deer Hunter *winner*
Heaven Can Wait
An Unmarried Woman
Can you believe that I’ve only watched Coming Home? Ok, I watched Heaven Can Wait on HBO YEARS ago and I barely remember it. Still, I needed an excuse to watch The Deer Hunter and to re-watch Coming Home (been wanting to for a while), so why not? I’ve also read excellent stuff about Jill Claybourgh in An Unmarried Woman, so I’m kinda excited.