Four Classic Films they couldn’t make today–and one I’d like to see them take on

Okay, never say never. But it seems unlikely these films could be made today, for the reasons I’ve listed.

I’ve added one film that was limited by the restrictions of yesteryear (and perhaps some bad choices by the producers, directors, screenwriters and/or actors). Still, the story is worth telling, and if the right people took it on…

All of these films have been reviewed on my other blog, Classic for a Reason. Click on the title to see the individual reviews, and if you get the chance, check out these movies!

The More the Merrier
Joel McCrea  Jean Arther, The More the Merrier
Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur battle it out–and of course fall in love.

A single woman rents out the spare room in her apartment to two strange men? It was a controversial idea at the time, but today it likely would be nixed because of the danger factor, not the sexual one.

The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer
shirley-temple-and-cary-grant
Shirley Temple, Cary Grant

A man suspected of seducing an underage girl is sentenced to date her? While there would be outrage at the concept now, Cary Grant and Shirley Temple (with the able assistance of Myrna Loy) make it plausibleand–really funny.

The Thin Man series
Myrna Loy, William Powell in After the Thin Man
Myrna Loy, William Powell

Since we all know drunks don’t get more charming and capable with every martini, Nick and Nora’s sophisticated use of liquor would be suspect. Besides, some classics just should be left alone.

Dark Victory
Bette Davis, George Brent in Dark Victory
Bette Davis, George Brent fall in love–but he’s her doctor, and knows her destiny.

You have to tell the patient she’s dying. You just do.

And the film the right director should take on…
In This Our Life
Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland In This Our Life
Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland in a film worth re-making.

This is an incredible story based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, and the movie is good, but it should be great. There is so much going on it actually would make a good multi-part series (you know, six episodes on HBO, that sort of thing). Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland alone make it worth watching, and it was John Huston’s second film (after The Maltese Falcon), but it just doesn’t quite reach its full potential. And, I’d suggest they change the names of the lead characters. Stanley and Roy are simply not great names for women.


Happy Birthday, Dame Olivia

If I live to see 100, make that 101, let me live it like Olivia de Havilland, with class, humor…and in Paris.

Just last week, days before her birthday, she was given a damehood by Queen Elizabeth II for her services to drama. She is the oldest woman to receive this honor.

Dame Olivia was one of the top actresses of her time, with a career that spanned decades. She gained the respect of audiences and colleagues alike. But she represented more than just glamour and success. Through the influence gained by her talent, she fought for others, those without a voice, and changed lives as a result.

Olivia  de Havilland 1945
Publicity photo, circa 1945

A working woman in a sexist environment, she held her own against those who would pull her down and managed one of the most successful long-term careers in Hollywood history.

I’m far from the only one to take note of Dame Olivia’s qualities, now and then. In February 2016, The Oldie magazine, a satirical publication from London fighting ageism, named her “Oldie of the Year.”

Her response to that honor was delight and delightful. Over the years, her wit has shown in so many of her personal appearances, with a smile and a wink at life.

My fascination with and appreciation of Dame Olivia de Havilland began when I was high school, at the same school she had graduated from in 1934, Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos, Calif.

The summer between my junior and senior years I had a job working in the school library, and my tasks included repairing older books. One of those was the school’s 1934 yearbook, and the librarians turned a blind eye as I spent a little too much time looking for all mention of her. Even then, she stood out from her peers in her poise and class in front of a camera.

Classic movie fans, indeed anybody familiar with her work,

will know her best for two roles, as Melanie in Gone With the Wind and as the dashing Errol Flynn’s most frequent leading lady.

Olivia de Havilland as Melanie
As Melanie in “Gone With the Wind”

She was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her work in Gone With the Wind in 1939, but it wasn’t until she starred in the phenomenal film To Each His Own in 1946 that she won her first Oscar, for Best Actress in a Leading Role. That was followed three years later by the same award for one of my favorite of her films, The Heiress.

In between those two wins, she received a Best Actress nomination for The Snake Pit, a ground-breaking film about the treatment of the mentally ill. Bringing those images to the screen created public awareness of the plight of millions, and those who suffer from mental illness today can be thankful for her work in what I hope & pray is now a long-outdated portrayal of institutionalization.

She had one sister, the late Joan Fontaine. Miss Fontaine was a year younger, and the two are the only sisters in Academy Award history to each win an Oscar for Best Actress.

For those who aren’t aware,

in Hollywood’s early years what was known as the studio system reigned, in which actors and actresses were under contract and controlled by the strict standards and seeming whims of the studio executives. Dame Olivia took her studio, Columbia Pictures, to court in 1943 and won, and the resulting decision changed labor laws, greatly reduced studio power and began the decline of the contract system.

As a result it was almost impossible for her to find work for a couple of years, but at the end of that time she began a comeback that reduced that gap in her work to a non-entity in her overall career.

Perhaps there were times in those years when she wondered if she should have been the one to take that stand. Even if she never wavered in her pride in her decision, she likely cried or otherwise railed over the blacklisting of her talent. I don’t know enough about her to know what her reaction may have been, except it would have been human.

She has stood her ground again, and filed a lawsuit against the FX network, suing for infringement of common law right of publicity, invasion of privacy and unjust enrichment. Her claim is based on the “inherently untrue” portrayal of her as a bitchy gossip-monger, something records readily available to producers would show to be false.

She was, rather, known to be gracious and kind, a woman who refrained from gossip and treated all with respect and dignity.

Olivia de Havilland, National Medal of the Arts 2008
With President George W. Bush, receiving the National Medal of Arts

Although she is an American citizen, Dame Olivia has lived in Paris since 1960. She continued to act until the 1980s, and her last major public event was in 2008 when she was presented with the National Medal of Arts.

Our high school has an annual award, “The De Havilland Cup,” given to a student for a monologue performance.  That tradition has lasted more than 70 years, and I expect it will continue for many more to come. It is a fine tribute to her talent and dedication to her craft, for it takes both those qualities to win this award.

Dame Olivia de Havilland was a force in Hollywood, and remains a strong & gracious woman. She is one of the last living stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, that wonderful era from the 30s to 40s.*

Happy 101st birthday, Dame Olivia, and congratulations for a long and marvelous career, for your dignity and poise, for representing the best for working women everywhere.


*Those familiar with the “Golden Age of Hollywood” know that much of the work created during that time was a product of the studio system. It was a wonderful era for film, but not so much, perhaps, for many of the actors and actresses.

Header Image Credits, clockwise from top left: 1) With Errol Flynn in Captain Blood; 2) With Bette Davis in In This Our Life; 3) With George Brent in In This Our Life; 4) With Montgomery Clift in The Heiress; 5) With Jack Carson in The Male Animal; 6) In Princess O’Rourke. Reviews for these films can be found on Classic for a Reason.

Hollywood Legend Olivia de Havilland

If I live to see 100, let me live it like Olivia de Havilland, with class, humor…and in Paris.

Miss de Havilland was one of the top actresses of her time, with a career that spanned decades. She gained the respect of audiences and colleagues alike. But she represented more than just glamour and success. Through the influence gained by her talent, she fought for others, those without a voice, and changed lives as a result.

Olivia  de Havilland 1945
Publicity photo, c. 1945

A working woman in a sexist environment, she held her own against those who would pull her down and managed one of the most successful long-term careers in Hollywood history.

I’m far from the only one to take note of Miss de Havilland’s qualities, now and then. In February 2016, The Oldie magazine, a satirical publication from London fighting ageism, named her “Oldie of the Year.”

Her response to that honor was delight and delightful. Over the years, her wit has shown in so many of her personal appearances, with a smile and a wink at life.

My fascination with and appreciation of Olivia de Havilland began when I was high school, at the same school she had graduated from in 1934, Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos, Calif.

The summer between my junior and senior years I had a job working in the school library, and my tasks included repairing older books. One of those was the school’s 1934 yearbook, and the librarians turned a blind eye as I spent a little too much time looking for all mention of her. Even then, she stood out from her peers in her poise and class in front of a camera.

 Classic movie fans, indeed anybody familiar with her work,
Olivia de Havilland as Melanie
As Melanie in “Gone With the Wind.”

will know her best for two roles, as Melanie in Gone With the Wind and as the dashing Errol Flynn’s most frequent leading lady.

She was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her work in Gone With the Wind in 1939, but it wasn’t until she starred in the phenomenal film To Each His Own in 1946 that she won her first Oscar, for Best Actress in a Leading Role. That was followed three years later by the same award for one of my favorite of her films, The Heiress.

In between those two wins, she received a Best Actress nomination for The Snake Pit, a ground-breaking film about the treatment of the mentally ill. Bringing those images to the screen created public awareness of the plight of millions, and those who suffer from mental illness today can be thankful for her work in what I hope & pray is now a long-outdated portrayal of institutionalization.

She had one sister, the late Joan Fontaine. Miss Fontaine was a year younger, and the two are the only sisters in Academy Award history to each win an Oscar for Best Actress.

For those who aren’t aware,

in Hollywood’s early years what was known as the studio system reigned, in which actors and actresses were under contract and controlled by the strict standards and seeming whims of the studio executives. Miss de Havilland took her studio, Columbia Pictures, to court in 1943 and won, and the resulting decision changed labor laws, greatly reduced studio power and began the decline of the contract system.

As a result it was almost impossible for her to find work for a couple of years, but at the end of that time she began a comeback that reduced that gap in her work to a non-entity in her overall career.

Perhaps there were times in those years when she wondered if she should have been the one to take that stand. Even if she never wavered in her pride in her decision, she likely cried or otherwise railed over the blacklisting of her talent. I don’t know enough about her to know what her reaction may have been, except it would have been human.

Olivia de Havilland, National Medal of the Arts 2008
With President George W. Bush at the National Medal of Arts ceremony in 2008.

Although she is an American citizen, Miss de Havilland has lived in Paris since 1960. She continued to act until the 1980s, and her last major public event was in 2008 when she was presented with the National Medal of Arts.

Our high school has an annual award, “The De Havilland Cup,” given to a student for a monologue performance.  That tradition has lasted more than 70 years, and I expect it will continue for many more to come. It is a fine tribute to her talent and dedication to her craft, for it takes both those qualities to win this award.

Olivia de Havilland was a force in Hollywood, and remains a strong & gracious woman. She is one of the last living stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood, that wonderful era from the 30s to 40s.*

Congratulations, Miss de Havilland, for a long and marvelous career, for your dignity and poise, for representing the best for working women everywhere.


*Those familiar with the “Golden Age of Hollywood” know that much of the work that was created during that time was a product of the studio system. It was a wonderful era for film, but not so much, perhaps, for many of the actors and actresses.

Header Image Credits, clockwise from top left: 1) With Errol Flynn in Captain Blood; 2) With Bette Davis in In This Our Life; 3) With George Brent in In This Our Life; 4) With Montgomery Clift in The Heiress; 5) With Jack Carson in The Male Animal; 6) In Princess O’Rourke. Reviews for these films can be found on Classic for a Reason.