“Natalie was even better in the dress rehearsal [for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof], when her nervousness added to the tension,” according to producer Derek Granger; but in the taped performance she seems electrically charged, powered by the kind of role she’s longed for over the past ten years. And in the final scene with Brick, as Maggie realizes “I’m stronger than you,” there’s an echo of Natalie’s favorite actress, Vivien Leigh. “Oh, you weak people, you weak, beautiful people!—who give up such grace,” Maggie says as she switches off the lamp at Brick’s bedside. “What you want is someone to take hold of you—Gently, gently…” Gently, yes, in the delicate seductiveness that both actresses shared; but less gently in the fierce determination they so exquisitely conveyed.
A year later, when Laurence Olivier came out to Los Angeles to make The Betsy, the Wagners often entertained him in their 603 North Canon home, and family friend Delphine Mann had a strong impression that “[Laurence] saw the young Vivien in Natalie.”