Where In The Tree Is Vivien?

My favourite actress would have been 105 years old today.

City Jackdaw

I recently finished reading a biography about possibly my country’s greatest actress: Vivien Leigh. Triumphant and tragic, always lovely, ever fragile, her most difficult part was that of her own life.

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My post on an old movies site on Facebook provoked a conversation about her being England’s greatest actress. I was asked what it was about her that made me of this opinion, and how she faired in comparison to the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren. (The question was asked in all innocence, purely out of curiosity, as it was posed by a fan of Vivien’s who was curious as to why I hold her in such similar esteem.)

I replied that both Judi Dench and Helen Mirren are fine actresses, (Elizabeth Taylor too), but to me there seems a certain gravitas in both Leigh’s performances and in her attitude towards her craft. Most of her…

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They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next! You’re next!

I’ve just started reading Jack Finney’s The Body Snatchers. 

Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Thing From Another World are my favourite 50’s sci-fi films, and though I’ve watched Invasion many times over the years it’s taken me this long to read the book. I’m not sure why. The same thing happened with Jaws.

Jaws is one of the few instances, possibly the only instance, where I’ve preferred the movie adaptation to the book itself, and as I love the Body Snatchers film perhaps the same thing will happen now. My expectations are, though, that I’ll at least be checking the garden shed and beneath the decking for pods. Anything less and I’ll be disappointed.

The title of this post is, of course, taken from the movie, and there’s another line which, if you substitute the name Becky for Andy, I’m sure my wife could relate to:

I’ve been afraid a lot of times in my life. But I didn’t know the real meaning of fear until… until I had kissed Becky.

For Oscar Night, The Morning After

As it was Oscar night last night, I thought I’d post these photographs of my favourite actress’ two Oscar wins: Vivien Leigh in 1940 for Gone With The Wind and in 1952 for A Streetcar Named Desire.

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I was going to stay up and watch the awards live (last night’s I mean, not Vivien’s, as it’s kinda hard if you’re not yet born), but the flesh was weak and I recorded it instead to watch later.

But as always it’s difficult to avoid spoilers. I was pleased that Gary Oldman won Best Actor for Darkest Hour and Frances McDormand won Best Actress for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. I saw both of these films and predicted both stars for the honours after enjoying both movies. I got Best Film wrong though, tipping Three Billboards which was my favourite. But two out of three ain’t bad.

R.I.P Dolores O’Riordan

I was saddened tonight to hear of the sudden death of Dolores O’Riordan. I used to like The Cranberries back in the 90’s, and the fact that she was the same age as I really hit home.

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From Limerick, I loved that Irish accent of hers, haunting and evocative among the rolling guitar and drums.

From Wikipedia:

Their music has been likened to singers such as Sinéad O’Connor and Siouxsie and the Banshees. O’Riordan stated her singing style incorporating yodeling was inspired by her father who used to sing “The Lonesome Cattle Call”: “I just kept with my father all the time, just copying him and eventually I learned how to do it. Then over the years there were artists like Sinéad O’Connor and Siouxsie from Siouxsie and the Banshees and even Peter Harvey was doing it. It was something that you could work into The Cranberries’ format because a lot of that was used in religious Irish music.”

The first song that brought them to my attention was the gorgeous ballad Linger with its dreamy vocal and strings, written about the singer’s first serious kiss. Almost twenty five years on this is still a favourite of mine.

The video to accompany Linger was shot in grayscale and is a tribute to  Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 noir film Alphaville.

Another  favourite Cranberries track is the protest song Zombie, written in the wake of the Warrington bombing that claimed the lives of two children. O’Riordan is strikingly painted gold in the video, standing at the foot of a cross. Patrolling soldiers and children playing in Northern Ireland also feature.

Beginning

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence caused such silence
Who are we mistaken

the first time I encountered it I heard the ‘1916’ reference and thought it was about a traumatised ex-soldier, but I guess that works too, for victims of warfare and violence belong to a timeline that knows no end. As Dolores sings:

It’s the same old theme/Since nineteen-sixteen

I can recall many nights in my local pub in the nineties when this heavier Cranberries song was coming out from the jukebox. Some of them at the cost of my loose change.

R.I.P Dolores. Thanks for the music. Hope you’ve found peace.