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Vivien Leigh, That Hamilton Woman (1941)

As we are celebrating this week the centennial of Vivien Leigh’s birth, I was thinking that the suitable recommendation would be one of her best-remembered films, That Hamilton Woman (1941), her third and last motion picture in which she co-starred with Laurence Olivier, the love of her life. This majestic production of Alexander Korda was, actually, a propaganda film during WWII for the benefit of Great Britain. Not surprisingly, it was a personal favourite of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who used to watch it many times. That Hamilton Woman tells the true love story of Emma Hamilton, the wife of Sir William Hamilton, British ambassador in Naples, and Lord Nelson, the legendary historical English figure who confronted Napoleon Bonaparte in the famous Battle of Trafalgar. Aside from the spectacular sets and costumes (especially the outstanding dresses that Vivien Leigh wears throughout the film), That Hamilton Woman has a haunting musical score, composed by Miklos Rozsa (a frequent collaborator of Alexander Korda). The film won an Oscar for Best Sound, and it was nominated for other three awards, for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Effects. The sea battles are superbly illustrated, but no one could possibly forget the memorable love scenes between Vivien Leigh and her husband, Laurence Olivier, in their iconic roles. That Hamilton Woman is a remake after the German silent film version from 1921, Lady Hamilton, with Liane Haid and Conrad Veidt. There are many similarities between these two films, but, of course, the 1941-version is technically superior and sufficiently modern even for these days. That Hamilton Woman was amply publicized around the world, and there are many sets of publicity photos, the most fascinating being the numerous lovely portraits of Vivien Leigh as Emma Hamilton.

I highly recommend you to watch this film, which you could find in its entirity here: