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Hollywood Rivals: Olivia de Havilland vs Joan Fontaine — A fascinated, richly illustrated docudrama about the lives of two of the silver screen's legendary sisters.
By Elyse Sommer
' My search led me over to Amazon's streaming platform. Sure enough a bunch of de Havilland's best known ones are there for a low rental fee. Since browsing at Amazon inevitably lead to wonderfully worth watching related offerings, my search didn't just pop some of her first movies with Hollywood's favorite swashbuckler, Errol Flynn —The Adventures of Robin Hood and Captain Blood but a 15-episode documentary series called Hollywood Rivals.
The line-up of rivals sounds well worth a further look, but from a brief glance at just a couple the rivalry angle is used mainly as a means of connecting the lives of two well known actors. Essentially these are dual biographies with their being rivals just one part of their stories.
For now I can only report fully on Episode #14 which is about Olivia de Haviland and her sister Joan Fontaine . Bottom line: It's a fascinating dual history of their personal and professional lives. it's lavishly illustrated with photos and archived filmed bits and interviews. Writing this a day after de Hailand's death, an interview with her during her final years was was especially gratifying. Anyone wanting more than de Haviland's obituary will find this a very satisfying addendum.
We actually get to see the mother who was the one who established a pattern that paved the way for the sisters being rivals instead of closely bonded as girls born just a little more than a year apart should have been. We also see the fathers — the one who fathered both, and the stepfather whose name Joan, the younger one, took on as her professional name. As the manipulative mother saw this, her younger daughter was too ordinary to need a professional name As it turned out , Joan survived her mother's psychological abuse and forged an equally illustrious career. Unfortunately, the mother's divorce and remarriage, and unequal treatment of her children did make this segment live up to the title that was the connecting thread for the this series' episodes.
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