One of my favorite and most memorable party nights in Manhattan involved de Havilland. About a dozen or so of us friends got together at one's apartment in Hells Kitchen for a little birthday party with buffet dinner. Only one guest was Caucasian. They rest of us were Black or Latino. The party was early in the evening. We were all classic film fans. The host asked if we'd like to see a movie. We all agreed on one of his DVDS. We'd watch....THE HEIRESS in which her sweet character evolves from submissive to steely.
If you've seen THE HEIRESS, you will really get this: There we were, a predominantly Black/Latino audience, paying full attention to THE HEIRESS. When Olivia de Havilland, in the final scene, said "Bolt the door, Mariah," we all broke out into cheers and applause as if New York had just won the World Series. Watch this short video I did a few years ago.
Here's a trailer for William Wyler's THE HEIRESS.
My sister, my buddies at the birthday party, and me. This is why I push for more diversity and inclusion, especially on camera, in the field of film arts talk. That includes movie reviews and movie channel hosting. Would a Black film critic or movie historian be tapped to go on TV or give radio soundbites talking about Olivia de Havilland's excellent work in the films I mentioned here? Would we get the equal opportunity to talk about her wonderfulness as Maid Marian opposite Errol Flynn in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, her spirited comedy timing in THE STRAWBERRY BLONDE, her brilliant underplaying of scenes in HOLD BACK THE DAWN, her sleek and subtle yet dangerous sexiness in MY COUSIN RACHEL and her strength as the disabled woman alone in Los Angeles who outwits a band of home invaders in 1964's LADY IN A CAGE?
When it comes to movies starring Olivia de Havilland, I've only seen Black film critics and historians get tapped to talk about GONE WITH THE WIND because of Hattie McDaniel's historic Oscar winning performance and Black images in the film.