“Friends of mine who visit Paris regularly attend services at the same church as Ms. de Havilland, and report that she gets up and reads scripture there regularly, and as recently as 6 months ago! She is truly amazing.

“And while I’m at it, here’s a shout out for my favorite, if little remembered, Olivia de Haviland performance/film, The Dark Mirror. A nifty little thriller with de Haviland playing twins, supported by Thomas Mitchell, Lew Ayres, and Richard Long. No idea why it’s not better remembered and regarded.

“By the way, while I’ve never been able to stand Fontaine in anything, I find her at her most most awful in Casanova’s Big Night with Bob Hope, where her “comic” line readings all consist of speaking too loudly while rolling her eyes. I’ll admit I’m in the minority here, but Fontaine’s appeal has always eluded me.”

Thus spoke Jeff Woodman, one of our constant readers a few months ago when we did a blog about Miss deHavilland.  We thought we’d take a closer look at the two films Jeff mentioned.

Dark Mirror is, as Jeff says, a forgotten film and it shouldn’t be. It is a minor classic.

Made during her most prolific period, the late 1940s, just when she’d freed herself from Warners and she was able to choose challenging scripts, it gave deHavilland a chance to expand her range playing both good and evil. It was directed by Robert Siodmak and written and produced by Nunnally Johnson — who would eventually make The Three Faces of Eve. Catch it if you haven’t seen it.

And yes, Casanova’s Big Night, was not one of Joan Fontaine’s best. It’s a vehicle for Bob Hope and Fontaine was just fulfilling contractual obligations. In fact not even Hope is very good in it. But let’s not dismiss Fontaine so lightly. None could beat her in gems such as Rebecca, Suspicion, and Letter From an Unknown Woman.

In fact neither sister was very comfortable in comedy.

 

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