In 1960, during her divorce to Sir Laurence Olivier- her partner for the past two decades and also the man who she left her baby daughter and first husband for- Vivien Leigh declared, “If I were really and truly given the chance to live my life all over again, I would be certain of only two things. One is that at an early age I would become an actress. The other is that at not a much later age I should marry Laurence Olivier- and do the proposing myself if necessary. I would want to do everything again, except the last few months.”
Vivien Leigh as Mary Treadwell in Ship of Fools (1965).
She plays a divorced older woman who has left her abusive wealthy husband. Having no one else in the world to turn to, she idly flirts with men on board a boat cruise to Germany, while other passengers on board judge her for her glamorous and promiscuous affectations. Her character in this film has been compared to her performance as Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), since both are fading older women going through a crisis, but unlike Blanche, Mary does not delude her self with dreams of grandeur and is more jaded and self-aware.
During the filming of this movie, Vivien was very ill and on the last leg of her career, and this was to be her final role. Mary’s struggles in this film parallel Vivien’s own, and it was a role that was obviously very close to her heart. The tears in this scene are all too real and the performance Vivien gives is a powerful one of integrity and deep emotion.
In this scene Mary wonders to herself if she is to die alone because she is no longer young and attractive to men. Older women’s sexualities are often portrayed as grotesque and threatening, something to laugh at and be disgusted by, but this is not the case here. As Mary smears make up onto her face, she wipes it all off in a moment of tragic realization; realization of the harsh facts of her life, and of the futility of her constant efforts to maintain a beautiful outer shell while internally being broken by years of constant physical and emotional abuse from her ex-husband. Mary is a character that is indeed tragic and often times desperate, but Vivien portrayed her with pathos and dignity and was not afraid to show heartbreaking vulnerability in her last and perhaps best role.
You, you really are amazing, and I don’t know what I’d do without you.. but I feel I should figure it out because I think you’re getting sick of me, so I’m finally starting to open up, but here. I feel I should prepare for the worst because I think youre just becoming done with me..
“The last time was only about a month before she died. I had not seen her for over ten years when I met her at a cocktail party at the Leferve Galleries in London. We talked for a while. She was looking very lovely, and that clear childlike voice one can never forget. But there was a sadness, an almost wistfulness about her that haunted me for days after.” -Lady Lambert, one of the first schoolmates Vivien met when she entered the convent at age seven.
Lavi: What do you think of Allen? Do you like him?
Link: Walker? Preposterous, I- *trips* *thousands of pictures of Allen smiling at Link spill from
pockets* Those are made for the sake of the investigation *slips on a pile of pictures of Allen and Link feeding each other desserts* I-I was told to always keep watch of him and record every movement- *more pictures fall out as he
falls to his knees, desperately trying to pick them up* hang on a sec