tisdag 31 december 2013

Joan Fontaine RIP

I wasn't exactly sad when I heard that Joan Fontaine had died on December 15th. Life must end for us all some day and she was very old when she died, 96 years old. And she will always be remembered for the parts she played in four films during the forties: for Rebecca and Suspicion by Hitchcock, Jane Eyre with Orson Welles as Rochester, and for Max Ophuls' Letter from an unknown woman. T, hrough these films she gained immortal life and you could say that whatever her life was, whether or not she was mean to her sister Olivia de Havilland and to her two daughters and four husbands, it doesn't matter. She could have died straight after the last good film she and it wouldn't change anything. Those four wonderful films that she happened to make, that she was lucky to be a part of, will still be there, long after she's gone. And that is something to be happy about, and to wish for, for us all. We all want to be remembered for something good, beautiful and unique.

I am writing this on new year's eve, and the strange thing is that when I heard about Joan Fontaine's death, I was getting ready to write about two other great ladies, both born in 1913 and who would have been 100 years this year, if they had lived. I wanted to celebrate the memories of English actress Vivien Leigh and Norwegian actress Sonja Wigert. 

Sonja Wigert made a stunning debut in Norwegian films in the thirties and when Norway was occupied by the Nazis, she was approached by both sides to become a spy. She came to Sweden where the director Hasse Ekman offered her a few remarkable parts, especially in a little melodrama called "Ombyte av tåg" in 1943, which in many respects seems to foreshadow the more famous film by David Lean, "Brief Encounter" (1945). She was however never cleared of the reputation as a Nazi spy, and her career in both films and theatre deteriorated after the war. During a period she even owned a gas station in central Stockholm.

Vivien Leigh is the English actress who landed the part of Scarlett O'Hara. She was a very important figure for me as a child when I was obsessed with both the novel and the movie as well as Vivien's tragic life story. But I did manage to imitate Vivien's way of raising one eyebrow. I'll remember these three ladies fondly tonight, on the verge of a new year and tell their stories some other time.

Happy new year!