THE OLIVIERS by Felix Barker
Kirkus Star


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Stardust -- as the lives and careers of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh are presented in ""authorized"" biography, which handles its subjects with care and with fairness. The early chance Olivier took for the theater, his grounding in the provinces, and his many wrong choices, his marriage to Jill Esmond and the disenchantment of Hollywood; his mutinous interpretations of Shakespeare -- these precede his meeting with Vivien Leigh. She, raised in India, schooled in England and the Continent, made good at theatrical school but her marriage to Leigh Holman, a lawyer, almost finished her career, until she was spotted and ""built up"" as picture material. The work they did together, before their divorces, and the blazing publicity and public they have achieved, in both pictures and theater, are the rest of the story, which takes them into the ""company of the great"". This is a good combination of personal and professional biography, with its focus on Olivier's development, as actor and director, in his theories of production, taste and standards; on Leigh's growth in all types of parts; on their temperaments, friendships and behavior. A satisfyingly informative and well written book for the vast audience which has watched their work.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 1953
Publisher: Lippincott