Showing posts with label That Hamilton Woman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label That Hamilton Woman. Show all posts

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fashion Friday: That Hamilton Woman

That Hamilton Woman! is a 1941 movie about the real-life romance of Emma Hamilton and Horatio Nelson, starring Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. René Hubert, the man tapped to be the costume designer for the film, was no stranger to Vivien. He had previously worked with her on three movies:  Fire Over England, Dark Journey and A Yank at Oxford. René was born in Switzerland, in 1895.

Vivien Leigh and designer René Hubert
When it came to fashion, René's motto was that a woman should dress her personality, then everything else would fall into place. Your clothes must never overshadow you. You must triumph over them, for beauty's greatest asset is the lack of self-consciousness. René designed many sets and costumes for revues/plays in Europe, including designs for Max Reinhardt. By the age of thirty, his most famous client was Gloria Swanson, whom he began designing for in 1925. During his career, Rene received two Oscar nominations for costume design: Desiree, 1954 and The Visit, 1964.

That Hamilton Woman! opens at the British Embassy in Naples. We catch our first glimpse of Vivien as the young Emma as she arrives in Naples, along with her mother, at the home of Sir William Hamilton.

Vivien Leigh and Sara Allgood 
Vivien wears a large hat, based on one from a George Romney painting of Emma Hamilton. The hat features oversized black bows on top and a streaming, grey chiffon, scarf wraps around Vivien's chin. She wears a floor-length grey cape, with a multi-tiered capelet. Beneath the cape she wears a matching grey, chiffon dress cinched at the waist with a black sash. The close-fitting, long sleeves of the dress end in a small ruffle at each wrist.

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh

Sir William arranges to dine alone with Emma on her first night in Naples. The costume for this scene is a sweet dress made from a light, pink organza. The dress features elbow length sleeves, with banded ribbon midway through the sleeves and a low, ruffled collar, which extends to the shoulders, covering the bodice. A large, pink bow sits in the center of the ruffled collar.

Vivien wears a super-cute, three piece, sailor outfit, which reflects the colors of the British flag (red, white and blue). The gown features a long, pleated, chiffon dress. The skirt portion is highlighted by light blue stripes. The dress is topped off with a red, double-breasted waistcoat made from red moire (a silk fabric with a wavy pattern). Over the waistcoat, Vivien wears a short, bolero jacket made from blue silk.

Brass buttons are lined up in neat little double rows, running down both the vest and the jacket. The nautical theme continues with Vivien's jewelry. She wears an anchor necklace and anchor earrings. Her white collar also features gold anchors; one pinned to each side.  Vivien's curls are crowned by a straw hat, with an upturned brim, trimmed in blue ribbon.

Next up is the costume I've dubbed the opera gown. This particular ball gown is only shown briefly as Emma and Nelson attend the opera. Later, at an inn, we catch a fleeting glimpse of the dress beneath Emma's cape. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a full length photograph of the gown by itself.

The ball gown is made from blue satin, which is draped over side hoops, leaving the front and back more or less flat (which I'm sure Vivien appreciated after wearing those wide hooped skirts in GWTW!). Pink chiffon roses are sewn onto the dress, contrasting with the blue satin. The leaves and stems for the roses are embroidered directly onto the gown's fabric in a silver thread and are embellished with tiny rhinestones. The underskirt is a heavy satin, with diamond shapes studded with more rhinestones. The entire outfit is topped off by an enormous hat, adorned with pink chiffon roses and ostrich feathers.

Vivien stuns in this next costume, which is another glamorous ball gown. The gown features a tight fighting, silver bodice with short sleeves. The skirt flounces out over side hoops for a dazzling effect, especially when Vivien, as Emma, runs through the palace in search of Nelson! The black chiffon skirt features a large, silver pattern with an overlay of black netting, studded with diamantes.

The Now I've kissed you through two centuries ball gown was auctioned off a few years ago by Christie's, selling for $7,800 USD.  From Christie's website: A full-length formal gown of black velvet, the v-shaped neckline trimmed with black lace, the bodice and skirt embellished with rhinestones and bugle beads in the form of feathers and bows. The dress was subsequently adapted for later use.

Eugne Joseff was the jewelry designer for That Hamilton Woman. In the movie, Vivien wears this gorgeous, faux diamond and emerald necklace. The necklace was originally created by Joseff for Greta Garbo to wear in the 1936 movie, Camille. Greta complained that the weight of her cape caused the leaves of the necklace to pierce her skin, so she refused to wear it. Joseff brought the piece out of storage for Vivien to wear as we see in these pictures.

Another of Vivien's costumes that went on the auction block is this gorgeous overcoat. The outfit was sold at Sotheby's in 2002 for around $8,000 USD. Looking at the black and white photos, one would never guess that the coat was a gorgeous green color.

The top of the coat features a multi-tiered capelet, while the sleeves end in oversized cuffs. The extra large, black buttons run almost the entire length of the overcoat. A black belt is cinched into place around the close fitting waist. In the picture above, a frilly cravat stands its ground, held in place with a large cameo brooch.

One part of the publicity campaign for That Hamilton Woman! were costume reproductions. These modern day replicas were available to the general public at fine department stores.

One of my personal favorites, from That Hamilton Woman!, is this gorgeous gown. I don't have a description of the dress as viewed in the movie, but I do have a description of the replica made for the public. The replica gown was made from white crepe. The crepe drapes over the bodice Grecian style and the shoulders feature toga like knots. The bodice and the detachable shawl feature an embroidered design, embellished with diamantes.

And finally, we come to a costume worn by Laurence Olivier as Horatio Nelson. This costume went on the auction block in 2011, selling for $19,000!

As Nelson, Olivier wears several different naval uniforms. This particular one can be seen, in the movie, when Vivien comes aboard Nelson's ship. It's a long, navy colored jacket with a cream vest and white shirt beneath. The white shirt features ruffles in the front and at the wrists. The jacket, as pictured above, is missing its gold epaulettes from the shoulders.

This last picture shows the real Nelson's naval uniform. Nelson wore it in the Battle of Trafalgar, where unfortunately, he was killed by gunfire. The gentleman in the picture is pointing to the bullet hole in Nelson's jacket.

From Nelson had lost his right arm at Santa Cruz de Tenerife on 22 July 1797, and accordingly the right sleeve of the jacket is only lined to the elbow, and is equipped with a small loop that allows it to be crossed over the breast and fastened to a button. On the left sleeve and tails there are visible bloodstains, probably those of John Scott, Nelson’s secretary, who was killed just before him. The uniform and a number of other effects were given to Lady Hamilton, who gave them away to settle a debt in 1814. Prince Albert acquired them later for 150 pounds and donated them to Greenwich Hospital. As for the bullet that killed Nelson, it is now kept in the Royal Collection at Windsor.

Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!

For more on That Hamilton Woman!, please check out this previous post:
 21 Cool Things About That Hamilton Woman!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

21 Cool Things About "That Hamilton Woman!"

Here's a list of 21 cool things about That Hamilton Woman, starring Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, that I have put together in celebration of the film.

1. The movie's based on the real life love affair of Emma Hamilton (April 26, 1765 to January 15, 1815) and Horatio Nelson (September 29, 1758 to October 21, 1805). The two first met in 1793, two years after Emma's marriage to Sir William Hamilton.

Portraits of Emma, Lady Hamilton and Admiral Horatio Nelson
2. That Hamilton Woman wasn't the first (or last) time that Emma and Nelson’s story would receive the big screen treatment. In order of year, the films are:
1919, The Romance of Lady Hamilton, with Malvina Longfellow and Humberston Wright
1921, Lady Hamilton, with Liane Haid and Conrad Veidt
1929, The Divine Lady, with Corinne Griffith and Victor Varconi
1941, That Hamilton Woman (also known as Lady Hamilton), with Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier
1968, Emma Hamilton, with Michele Mercier and Richard Johnson
1973, The Nelson Affair (also known as Bequest to the Nation), with Glenda Jackson and Peter Finch

3. In The Nelson Affair the part of Nelson was played by Peter Finch, whom Olivier had discovered in Australia, in 1948. Finch repaid Olivier by cuckolding him. He was also Vivien’s co-star in Elephant Walk, a movie in which she, unfortunately, wasn’t able to complete. 

4. They agreed to do That Hamilton Woman for monetary reasons. In the spring of 1940, Leigh and Olivier invested heavily in their stage production of Romeo and Juliet. The play was not a success and had many difficulties, including harsh reviews from critics. The play opened in San Francisco, traveling to Chicago and New York, where it finally closed, leaving Leigh and Olivier broke.

Laurence Olivier & Vivien Leigh as Nelson and Emma in That Hamilton Woman
5. That Hamilton Woman was Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier’s first movie together as man and wife. It was also their third and final screen pairing. Their first two movies were Fire Over England and 21 Days.

6. Upon returning to Hollywood to film That Hamilton Woman, the Oliviers rented a house on Cedarwood Drive, which came with a giant sheep dog named Jupiter. Jupiter was lucky enough to accompany them to the set on an almost daily basis.

Vivien Leigh and Jupiter on the Hamilton set
7. During one of the fight scenes, Olivier's wig caught on fire. A flame from one of the torches dropped down from an extra, landing on top of his head. Luckily, Henry Wilcoxon (playing Captain Hardy) was able to snatch the wig from Olivier's head and put out the fire before any damage occurred to Olivier.

Henry Wilcoxon in action as he whips the wig from Laurence Olivier' s head.
8. When asked about Olivier playing a character with only one arm and one eye, Vivien replied, What does it matter? Larry can do more with one eye than most men can do with two!

9. Gladys Cooper played Olivier’s wife in the film. In real life, Gladys was married to Philip Merivale, Jack Merivale's father. Jack would later become Vivien’s post-Olivier boyfriend. 

10. Hazel Rogers styled Vivien's hair for That Hamilton Woman. She also worked on Vivien’s hair for Gone With the Wind and would later work with her on A Streetcar Named Desire.

11. Vivien’s costumes were designed by Rene Hubert. During the publicity campaign leading up to the various premieres, the costumes could be seen decorating the windows of department stores such as Hudson's Bay and Bonwit Teller. They were then housed back in Hollywood, where they would either be rented out or re-used in other movies. 

12. Another part of the publicity campaign included Vivien dressing up as Emma based on the portraits of George Romney. Romney painted the real Emma Hamilton somewhere around the two dozen mark. Vivien recreated at least five of these portraits; however, she wasn't the first actress to do so. Corinne Griffith also recreated a few of Romney's paintings of Emma for her film, The Divine Lady, back in 1929.

Emma Hamilton, Corinne Griffith and Vivien Leigh
13. Vivien wears this gorgeous, faux diamond and emerald necklace (pictured below) in That Hamilton Woman. The necklace was originally created for Greta Garbo to wear in the 1936 movie, Camille. Greta complained that the weight of her cape caused the leaves of the necklace to pierce her skin, so she refused to wear it. Eugene Joseff, the jewelry designer for both Camille and That Hamilton Woman, brought the piece out of storage for Vivien to wear.

14. The set designer was Vincent Korda, brother of Alexander Korda and the interior designer was Julia Heron. Artwork, tapestries and statues were imported from overseas to decorate the lavish sets. Vincent's creations included the British embassy in Naples, which took up an entire sound stage and featured a courtyard; Emma's bedroom, with that gorgeous bed she reclines in; the royal Naples palace; and Emma's London home. 

15. Joesph Breen, of the Production Code Administration, refused to give his approval to the movie as it didn't show Emma and Nelson sorry for their adulterous lifestyle. Korda added the scene of Nelson's father lecturing him, to satisfy Breen and receive approval.

16. The Oliviers missed the premiere of That Hamilton Woman as they’d left the United States for England at the end of December, 1940. On leaving the U.S., Vivien said, I know London is not the safest place in the world right now, but it is still my home and that's where I want to be.

Vivien Leigh & Laurence Olivier in That Hamilton Woman
17. The Hollywood premiere was held at the Four Star Theater on Wednesday, March 19, 1941. Tickets for the sold out show were $5 each, with the proceeds going to the British Royal Air Force Development fund. Many members of the production and cast attended the premiere, including: Vincent Korda, Alexander Korda, Merle Oberon (who was married to Korda at the time), Sara Allgood, Gladys Cooper, Alan Mowbray, Halliwell Hobbes, Henry Wilcoxon and Norma Drury.

Many of Hollywood's big names also came out for the premiere, including: Sonja Henje & husband Dan Topping, Olivia de Havilland, David Selznick, Samuel Goldwyn, William Wyler, Claudette Colbert, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Gary Cooper, Ronald Colman, Basil Rathbone, Joan Bennett, Charlie Chaplin, Greer Garson, Buddy Rogers and Mary Pickford.

Mary Pickford, Sam Goldwyn, Sonja Henie and Dan Topping attend the Hollywood premiere of THW.
18. That Hamilton Woman premiered at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on April 3, 1941. It broke the box office record for Easter Week.

That Hamilton Woman opens at Radio City Music Hall and all 6,000 seats were sold out!
19. England was at war with Germany and Alex Korda's number one motive for making this movie was propaganda. For doing this, Korda was ordered to appear before a Senate committee on charges of attempting to incite America into war. The hearing was cancelled and a second one was scheduled for December 12, 1941. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, on December 7th, Korda's hearing was dismissed.

20. The movie was reportedly one of the favorite movies of two world leaders: Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill. According to one of his assistants, Churchill had watched the movie approximately 6 times by the end of 1941.

21. That Hamilton Woman received four Oscar nominations, winning for Sound Recording, at the 14th Annual Academy Awards, held in 1942. The nominations were for the following :
Art Direction (Black & White) -- Art Direction: Vincent Korda; Interior Decoration: Julia Heron
Cinematography (Black & White) -- Rudolph Maté
Special Effects -- Photographic Effects by Lawrence Butler; Sound Effects by William H. Wilmarth
Sound Recording -- General Service Sound Department, Jack Whitney, Sound Director (Winner)

Screen Guide, February 1941
Charmed Lives by Michael Korda
Various newspaper articles
Oscar info from AMPAS

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Little Miss Echo

Must She Always Be Little Miss Echo?
by Hubert Cole, originally published in 1940

I doubt that anybody would deny that the biggest screen role-- of the past ten years has been that of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. It would be strange wouldn’t it, if the girl who eventually got the role after so much heated competition, should eventually be killed by it?

That, I believe, is just what is happening. Miss Leigh, having scored one success with Scarlett, is going to echo and re-echo the role down the ages until everybody is thoroughly sick and tired of it. Unless something is done to stop it.

I am not blaming David O. Selznick, who cast Miss Leigh as Scarlett. The rot had set in some time before that. You can trace the Scarlett character back to A Yank at Oxford. That was the time when Vivien, having played two or three colourless ingénues in quota quickies, and then having been signed up by Alexander Korda with a fanfare of windy trumpets to play another colourless role in Fire Over England, first appeared as an unprincipled hussy.

She was, if you remember, the flirtatious wife of the elderly bookseller. She had so many affairs with the local undergraduates that her long-suffering husband at last decided to move his business. But, as she triumphantly announced, they were only moving to Aldershot. It was a very nice and naughty performance, that one in A Yank at Oxford. Her wide and innocent blue eyes contrasted attractively with her less innocent behaviour. She was a kitten with fully grown claws.

On the strength of that performance she was chosen to play the ambitious Cockney girl in Sidewalks of London. (It’s funny how blurbs of publicity follow Miss Leigh around-- as in the later Gone With the Wind campaign, there was a great deal of hullabaloo about finding an entirely new discovery, which ended up with Vivien Leigh getting the part.)

The girl in Sidewalks of London was as determined and unscrupulous as the bookseller’s wife in A Yank At Oxford. She was a little more open about it. She was at less pains to hide the fact that she would ride rough-shod over any obstacles, any ordinary feelings of kindness or gratitude.

And so we come to Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett belongs to the select few heroines in literature who are intensely interesting and intensely unsympathetic. She is an American Becky Sharp.

She has ambition without principles, strength of purpose without conscience. She was a greater, more detailed study of the girl that Vivien Leigh had already played in A Yank at Oxford and Sidewalks of London. It was as if those two previous roles had been nothing more than a preliminary tryout for the final one.

If, indeed, they had been that --and if the course of training had ended there-- all would have been well. A monster production like Gone With the Wind might conceivably call for two test pictures to give the leading lady practice. But the three pictures together, and the triumph that Vivien scored in the third, seem to be her undoing. She is typed as the tough girl; the outward seeming sweet young thing with the callous core.

That, I am convinced, is why she was cast opposite Robert Taylor in Waterloo Bridge. Somebody, looking round for a subject for Vivien’s next picture, said: “Heck, why not Waterloo Bridge? That was all about a prostitute, wasn’t it?”

And Vivien, who is allowed to have no moral scruples on the screen, was given the part. As it happens, the girl in the story isn’t primarily a prostitute-- and is even less of one than she was in the earlier version, made before the purity campaigners got such a firm hold on Hollywood.

Actually, Myra in Waterloo Bridge is a very charming young woman, though an extremely foolish one. She becomes a prostitute not through willfulness or lack of moral sense, but because she is rather stupid.

That role might have been the opportunity that Miss Leigh was waiting for. It might have been the lucky accident that would have formed a stepping stone from the past series of unsympathetic roles to a new future of more pleasant ones. It might have removed the threat that she is condemned to play Little Miss Echo for the rest of her screen career.

But I’m afraid it hasn’t. Here she is now, off again down the path of mottled morals, playing Lady Hamilton to Laurence Olivier’s Nelson in the new film Alexander Korda is producing in Hollywood.

I’m not quite sure why Korda should be making the film at this time. There is obvious publicity value in the teaming of Olivier and Vivien; there is obvious topical value in the story of a great British admiral; but there is also the strange emphasis (as far as one can judge from the advance pictures) on the intrigue with Lady Hamilton and Nelson’s strange conduct in Naples-- a very unsavoury phase of his career.

And I suspect that the primary reason why he chose the subject was that Miss Leigh is still under contract to him and he thought Lady Hamilton a sufficiently immoral character to suit Miss Leigh’s style. For Korda, like the rest of the producers, apparently now believes that Miss Leigh has only one style.

Perhaps he is right. He should know more about her work than I do. But Waterloo Bridge, at any rate, seems to suggest she can play a young woman of good impulses and healthy outlook as well as she can the other kind. It may not be entirely the fault of the producers and casting managers that Miss Leigh has travelled so far away from the sweet young thing that she used to be in her early stage and screen days.

Two years ago, for instance, she said in an interview: “Quite a number of people were surprised when I appeared as a vamp in A Yank at Oxford, and took an unsympathetic part in Sidewalks of London. But in both cases, I felt that the roles were interesting and out of the rut. Since the films have been completed and shown, the letters I have received have proved I was right. Most of these letters say how glad the writers are that I have not confined myself to pretty heroine characters.”

To that insignificant statement you can add the story, recently published, that long before Gone With the Wind was ever made-- and certainly long before Vivien was approached to play the principle role-- she gave a copy of the book to a friend and autographed it from Scarlett.

In itself, the incident means little, except that Vivien not unnaturally saw herself in a role which was bound to be one of the most important on the screen. But set beside what she said in the interview, it seems to point clearly to the fact that she herself had a preference for unsympathetic roles-- and believes that the film going public likes best to see her in such roles. I believe she has been misled-- both by herself and her correspondents.

There is no doubt she takes her career seriously and laudably aims at becoming a great actress. It is true that many great actresses have played unsympathetic parts and created great reputations in them. It is also significant that, in one of her earliest and worst films, The Village Squire, she played Lady Macbeth.

All the way through, perhaps by chance and perhaps by choice, she has veered toward near villainy, she has appeared as a cold and calculating hussy.

There have been patches when she was just a normal, nice young woman-- but she does not seem to have been particularly interested in those roles. Unfortunately, she has some reason to despise them, for they were parts of no great value: the lady-in-waiting in Fire Over England, for instance, and the heroine in Dark Journey-- though the film itself was pleasant enough.

So, by avoiding being “confined entirely to pretty heroine characters,” she seems to have dug herself into an equally treacherous rut. If I have accused her wrongly of willfully going unsympathetic on us, I am sorry. If, in fact, she is fighting against such typing, I am doubly sorry-- that she has had so little success recently.

There is a great deal of danger in stereotyping her in unpleasant parts. It is difficult-- probably impossible-- for a young actress to become great if she confines herself to unsympathetic roles. Unless Vivien Leigh breaks clean away from Scarlett O’Hara and all the other minor Scarletts, I fear she is going to find herself in the middle of a lot of grief.