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: 71061%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An expert (Lew Ayres) joins a detective (Thomas Mitchell) on the case of identical-twin sisters (Olivia de Havilland), one a... [More]
Directed By: Robert Siodmak

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 77331%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Matronly Elizabeth I (Bette Davis) loves the dashing Earl of Essex (Errol Flynn), but politics come first.... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#13
Adjusted Score: 71466%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: British Lancers (Errol Flynn, Patric Knowles) vow revenge after villainous Surat Khan slaughters every man, woman and child at their... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#12
Adjusted Score: 81990%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A chronicle of George Armstrong Custer's military career, from West Point to his final battle at Little Bighorn.... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Walsh

#11
Adjusted Score: 84302%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Half-mad Charlotte (Bette Davis) lives in a Louisiana mansion with her greedy cousin (Olivia de Havilland) and family doctor (Joseph... [More]
Directed By: Robert Aldrich

#10

Santa Fe Trail (1940)
83%

#10
Adjusted Score: 76640%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Dashing Jeb Stuart (Errol Flynn) and his West Point classmates go to Kansas to stop abolitionist John Brown (Raymond Massey).... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#9
Adjusted Score: 91491%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Shakespeare's Puck (Mickey Rooney) and forest fairies prompt a triple mortal wedding, with entertainment by Bottom (James Cagney).... [More]

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 104718%
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: Presented as originally released in 1939. Includes themes and character depictions which may be offensive and problematic to contemporary audiences.... [More]
Directed By: Victor Fleming

#7

The Snake Pit (1948)
100%

#7
Adjusted Score: 100746%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A man (Mark Stevens) commits his wife (Olivia de Havilland) to a mental hospital, where her doctor (Leo Genn) tries... [More]
Directed By: Anatole Litvak

#6

Hold Back the Dawn (1941)
100%

#6
Adjusted Score: 100266%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Romanian gigolo (Charles Boyer) exits Mexico by marrying a U.S. teacher (Olivia de Havilland) on a field trip.... [More]
Directed By: Mitchell Leisen

#5
#5
Adjusted Score: 100650%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: An ex-convict dentist (James Cagney) recalls his wife (Olivia de Havilland) and another man's wife (Rita Hayworth), in circa-1900 New... [More]
Directed By: Raoul Walsh

#4

The Heiress (1949)
100%

#4
Adjusted Score: 101494%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A fortune hunter (Montgomery Clift) charms a doctor's (Ralph Richardson) plain daughter (Olivia de Havilland) in 19th-century New York.... [More]
Directed By: William Wyler

#3

Dodge City (1939)
100%

#3
Adjusted Score: 100923%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A Texas cattleman (Errol Flynn) comes to Dodge City, Kan., with his buddies and dons a badge to clean it... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#2

Captain Blood (1935)
100%

#2
Adjusted Score: 105115%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A British doctor (Errol Flynn) sold into slavery becomes a dashing Caribbean pirate and fights a duel with a French... [More]
Directed By: Michael Curtiz

#1
Adjusted Score: 110368%
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: The Sherwood Forest outlaw (Errol Flynn) and his men save King Richard and Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland) from Prince... [More]

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