The Heiress

(Photo by Paramount Pictures. Thumbnail image: MGM, Warner Bros.)

15 Fresh Olivia de Havilland Movies

Olivia de Havilland, the enduring icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age, made her big screen debut in 1935’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at age 19. Barely out of high school, de Havilland was literally doing the same play in community theater just the year before. She was quickly signed into a studio contract with Warner Bros., where she was paired with Errol Flynn, igniting one of the top on-screen romantic couplings of the era.

Released the same year as Midsummer, the first of their movies was Captain Blood, the swashbuckling classic that has excited audiences and critics for generations. De Havilland would be legally bound to Warner Bros. until 1945 after an acrimonious, lawsuit-filled split, but the 10-year triangle between she, Flynn, and Warners would produce a bounty of Fresh films, including The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, and The Adventures of Robin Hood. The latter 1938 movie was by far their most successful outing, a grand, colorful, Best Picture-nominated adventure. We called it one of the 300 Essential Movies you need to watch.

Despite the steady roles and growing fame Warner Bros. provided, she flourished most creatively whenever escaping the binding clauses. She was “loaned” out to MGM for 1939’s Gone With the Wind, where she got her first Oscar nomination as Southern belle Melanie Hamilton. Similarly, she was seen by the Academy when working with Paramount in 1941 for the political romantic drama Hold Back the Dawn. After being released by Warners in the mid-1940s, shrewd role selection got her recognized for the rest of the decade, as she won the Best Actress Oscar for 1946’s To Each His Own and 1949’s The Heiress.

1964’s Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte would be her final Fresh movie (she would appear in just five more overall before retiring by 1980). It’s a cracked-up psychological thriller starring other Golden Age legends – Bette Davis! Joseph Cotten! Agnes Moorehead! Mary Astor! – whose behind-the-scenes drama compares to the brazen madness on display. And now, we celebrate the life and career of true Hollywood royalty by presenting 15 Fresh Olivia de Havilland movies.

#15

The Dark Mirror (1946)
71%

#15
Adjusted Score: 71.088%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Olivia De Havilland, with the assistance of some eye-popping special photographic effects, plays twins in The Dark Mirror. One twin... [More]
Directed By: Robert Siodmak

#14
Adjusted Score: 71.047%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: It is no secret that Bette Davis and Errol Flynn were at each other's throats throughout the filming of The... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#13
Adjusted Score: 71.537%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Of the many film versions of Alfred Lord Tennyson's narrative poem, 1936's Charge of the Light Brigade has the least... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#12
Adjusted Score: 82.978%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Though history is distorted almost beyond recognition in Warner Bros.' They Died With Their Boots On, audiences in 1941 ate... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Walsh

#11
Adjusted Score: 84.131%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An unusually long pre-credits sequence establishes the roots of faded Southern belle Charlotte's (Bette Davis) insanity; she'd been witness to... [More]
Directed By: Robert Aldrich

#10

Santa Fe Trail (1940)
83%

#10
Adjusted Score: 77.149%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This western is a simplistic retelling of the John Brown legend. The events leading up to the bloody confrontation between... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#9
Adjusted Score: 92.532%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Max Reinhardt's legendary Hollywood Bowl production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream was transferred to the screen by Warner Bros.... [More]

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 105.255%
Critics Consensus: Gone with the Wind's epic grandeur and romantic allure encapsulate an era of Hollywood filmmaking -- but that can't excuse a blinkered perspective that stands on the wrong side of history.
Synopsis: Gone With the Wind boils down to a story about a spoiled Southern girl's hopeless love for a married man.... [More]
Directed By: Victor Fleming

#7

The Snake Pit (1948)
100%

#7
Adjusted Score: 100.33%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: "A woman loses her mind and is confined to a mental institution." That's the usual TV-listing encapsulation of The Snake... [More]
Directed By: Anatole Litvak

#6

Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
100%

#6
Adjusted Score: 100.259%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Hold Back the Dawn begins with a shabby immigrant (Charles Boyer) wandering onto a Paramount sound stage and telling his... [More]
Directed By: Mitchell Leisen

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 100.619%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this lyrical and picaresque evocation of turn-of-the-century New York, a dentist faces memories of his infatuation with a "strawberry... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Walsh

#4

The Heiress (1950)
100%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101.274%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this film, Catherine Sloper is the plain-Jane daughter of a wealthy widower. Catherine is not only unattractive but lacks... [More]
Directed By: William Wyler

#3

Dodge City (1939)
100%

#3
Adjusted Score: 100.944%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Dodge City and Stagecoach were released the same year and though featuring two very different plots, are both credited with... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#2

Captain Blood (1935)
100%

#2
Adjusted Score: 105.215%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This film is set during the oppressive reign of King James II. Irish physician Peter Blood is condemned to slavery... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#1
Adjusted Score: 110.202%
Critics Consensus: Errol Flynn thrills as the legendary title character, and the film embodies the type of imaginative family adventure tailor-made for the silver screen.
Synopsis: In order to avoid the material copyrighted by Douglas Fairbanks Sr. for his 1922 Robin Hood, the scripters of this... [More]

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