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Leslie Howard

Just finding out about him. I watched him in The Scarlett Pimpernel late last night. He just might be the best actor Iv'e seen so far. I heard he was in GWTW but I have yet to watch that film. He had classic good looks. Very sophisticated presence. He also appears to have had the ugliest wife ever. But he balances it out by sleeping with probably the most beutiful woman iv'e ever seen, Conchita Montenegro. Too bad he dies so young. I think he would have been a true icon.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12904/23/2013

Conchita Montenegro was a Goddess. I'm linking to a picture of her.

Leslie Howard was an empathetic sophisticate. Keep his era in mind when I state that. He driped style and class but hadn't any snobbishness. He also had a very fine stage background so maybe that was why he was a well balanced actor.

He did fine work with Bette Davis in "Of Human Bondage" and "The Petrified Forest." Those are two worth checking out, OP.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 109/03/2012

Thanks for posting a photo. CM was a thing of beauty. I plan on watching Of Human Bondage next. My grandmother says Bette and Leslie are fantastic in that movie. Never heard of the PF but It looks like I'll be seeking that one out too. Thanks.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 209/03/2012

Watch "Pygmalion", OP. Leslie Howard and Wendy Hiller are the perfect Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolitle.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 309/03/2012

Petrified Forest is one of my favorite play-to-screen movies. Howard was achingly beautiful in that. True romanticism can't be "performed" but felt from the inside. It took me years to figure out the ending.

BTW Bogey was, is, and will always be, the greatest bad man. He didn't need CGI

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 409/03/2012

Rent Pygmallion as well (original source of My Fair Lady) as well.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 509/03/2012

"Are you heppy, Melanie? Truly, truly heppy?"

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 609/03/2012

Agree, r7.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 809/03/2012

Come to think of it, True Blood's Bill line delivery of "Sooo-ehkie" must have been inspired by Scarlett's repeated "Ashley" mantra thru GWTW.

You need to watch GWTW. I was born in 1969's and in the 70s and early 80s - they would play it on primetime TV - mini-series style. It was a must see TV event.

I agree never did understand Scarlett's obsession w/Ashley as Leslie was miscast. Even Grams complained about Leslie in that role.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 909/03/2012

Leslie Howard is by far the weakest link in GWTW. He was too old for the part of Ashley and not nearly handsome enough for us to believe he would turn Vivian Leigh's head while she had Clark Gable chasing after her. He turns in a very wooden performance, with the exception of a couple of moments. He is good in Of Human Bondage, though.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1009/03/2012

Leslie Howard also believed he was terribly miscast in GWTW.

I don't think he wanted any part of the film but the Selznick machine and the public's excitement and anticipation for the film was just too big for him to resist and so he became Ashley Wilkes.

There is a short funny makeup/wardrobe test of him as Ashley in which he clearly can't take it all seriously. IIRC he is holding pieces of false hair against his forehead, rolling his eyes as if to say: "And you all think this is going to make me look young and romantic?" Look for it on youtube OP!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1109/03/2012

Emphatically agree with those who say Leslie Howard was terrible as Ashley Wilkes in GWTW.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1209/03/2012

That very poor casting decision is one of the missteps that prevents it from being a truly great film. It is imperative that one read the novel before watching the film, otherwise one will have no idea why Scarlett is supposed to be lusting after Ashley or what she sees in him.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1309/03/2012

Leslie Howard was so bad as Ashley Wilkes, it colored what was left of his career. Lazy asshole couldn't even be bothered to learn a southern accent - what made him look even more foolish was that his fellow Brit, Vivien Leigh, nailed hers.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1409/03/2012

R14 Clark Gable didn't bother with a Southern accent either.

Leslie Howard made a deal with Selznick to do GWTW so he could produce INTERMEZZO and war propaganda films for England - At the time the US had not yet entered the war and England was getting blitzed and doing everything to encourage American participation.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1609/03/2012

Is there actual Betty Paige type bondage in 'Of Human Bondage'? How did audiences of the '30s react?

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1709/03/2012

Pygmalion is where I feel in love with him, but I agree he was wrong for GWTW.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1809/03/2012

It was laughable to think that Scarlett would pine after that wet towel Howard ... terrible casting.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 1909/03/2012

Obviously meant fell, not feel.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2009/03/2012

Totally miscast in GWTW. He was in his late 40's and not all that great looking. It was unbelievable that Scarlett and Melanie would be creaming their pantaloons over a guy that old and plain. They should have cast a hot guy in his 20's in the part.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2109/03/2012

He and Norma were miscast in Romeo and Juliet - both wayyyy too old.

Of Human Bondage is my favorite of his films.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2209/03/2012

"Petrified Forest" captures that brief time when Bette Davis was a lovely ingenue.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2309/03/2012

At one point - I think the scene in Tara where they kissed - or rather Scarlett forced herself on him - his English accent comes out and you almost expect him to start talking about the heather.

In the book, Ashley was the perfect Southern gentleman, did not believe in slavery and was fighting for Georgia a war that he knew they would lose. He's described as stunning, with blond hair and thick blond lashes, excellent carriage and expert at horsemanship and all the other things a gentleman was supposed to be good at.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2409/03/2012

IIRC from the novel GWTW, the character of Ashley represents (to Scarlett) the sophisticated, educated planter-society aristocrat. He's very different from her father, and "the other bucks in the county" as Gerald O'H said, plus he had big bucks and Twelve Oaks.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2509/03/2012

I loved him in GWTW when I watched it when I was young. I found him handsome, heroic and noble, yet appealingly gentle. It's only been lately that I can see that Selznick might have made a better choice, but I still love him.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2609/03/2012

Ashley should have been Joel McCrea with a good bleach job. Did he even audition?

I know his wife Frances Dee (who played Little Women's Meg to Kate Hepburn's Jo) auditioned for Melanie (or was it Scarlett?).

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2709/03/2012

Howard was probably miscast, too old, not athletic enough, did not show his lust for Scarlet etc, but he did bring out the longing and weariness of the Ashley character, as he passively wanted the old way to return.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2809/03/2012

[quote]I heard he was in GWTW but I have yet to watch that film.

}}}}G A S P!!!{{{{

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 2909/03/2012

And yet, among those who knew, he was the biggest pussy hound of Hollywood's Golden Era.

Quite the swords man.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3009/03/2012

One of the last things he did was an airforce movie about the battle of Britain, an he's just terrific. Seems about 20 years younger than in GWTW.

Did he smile even once in GWTW? I can't think of it if he did.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3109/03/2012

[quote]Leslie Howard made a deal with Selznick to do GWTW so he could produce INTERMEZZO and war propaganda films for England - At the time the US had not yet entered the war and England was getting blitzed and doing everything to encourage American participation.

At the time England had not yet entered the war.

GWTW was filmed from January to June 1939.

England declared war with Germany in September 1939, and it was yet another year before Germany began the Blitz.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3209/03/2012

GWTW opened in theaters in 1939. Some scenes were shot as early as 1937.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3309/03/2012

Just looked it up and I'm wrong! Principal photography didn't begin on GWTW until January 1939, finished in June 1939 and the film premiered in Atlanta in December 1939.

How the hell did they accomplish all that in a year?!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3409/03/2012

Whoever said Joel McCrea as Ashley was correct. He was the right age and he was fucking gorgeous. He would've been totally believeable as the object of Scarlett and Melanie's lust.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3509/03/2012

I think for Selznick, Leslie Howard and Vivien Leigh represented a certain class (mostly because they were British and both seriously stage-trained) that American actors like Joel McCrea and Paulette Goddard simply couldn't bring to the characters and the project.

As Selznick was a raging heterosexual, he probably didn't give a fuck whether or not Ashely Wilkes had any sex appeal.

But I do wonder what George Cukor thought about the casting of Leslie Howard.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3609/04/2012

I agree he was flat, but don't you think it was intentional?

Selznick had a story to tell, and he needed to make it clear that Scarlett was barking up the wrong tree with Ashley. No time for the nuances in the book, he had too much ground to cover.

Leslie Howard was a good actor, and he did have warmth, and charm, and sex appeal, but they went out of their way to hide it. There's no way that wasn't intentional, or the result of Howard phoning it in.

In fact, if anything he walked a very fine line, and did it brilliantly. The audience liked him, and they saw what Scarlett saw in him, but at they same time 99% walked out with one thought--how is she going to get Rhett back? No one walked out thinking, "Good, now she's free to go after Ashley," and that's exactly what Joel McCrea would have done with that role.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3709/04/2012

Melvyn Douglas did a very good audition for Ashley, and so did gay actor Douglass Montgomery. Selznick was a fool for going for Howard.

And Gable's lack of a southern accent? Not nearly as egregious as Howard speaking with his native English accent.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3809/04/2012

r37 is absolutely right - Howard leaves the audience totally for Gable/Rhett. Yet at the same time, "Frankly, My Dear," Molly Haskell's wonderful book on the film and several others makes it clear Selznick, the producer of producers, still thought Leslie Howard was a top-drawer draw. The women of America still adored him and wanted him badly for the part. So in a way, it was cross purposes which worked out.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 3909/04/2012

Howard and Wendy Hiller are absolutely wonderful in "Pygmalion". I've seen many filmed versions of the play and musical, and the Howard/Hiller film is the most naturalistic version I've ever seen. For some reason most actors like to rant and squall their way through those roles, but Howard and Hiller come across as a couple of real people.

As for "GWTW", I would have cast Tyrone Power as Ashley, even if he wasn't blond. He had the physical beauty, and could project the characters insight and courtliness. He was also believable as a someone who could hold his own in a war, even if he didn't have a shred of machismo.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4009/04/2012

[quote]The women of America still adored him and wanted him badly for the part.

And that's how they got him - badly. He stank up the film. Howard is one of the reasons it's not aging as well as might be expected. Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel and Clark Gable can only do so much, when there's still a black hole every time he walks on screen, and a case of "grand lady" acting every time Olivia comes in.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4109/04/2012

What are you talking about GWTW not aging as well as might be expected?

The fucking movie is 75 years old and there's a thread on DL about it and nearly ever person here has seen it.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4209/04/2012

R42 = Tallulah Bankhead.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4309/04/2012

You heard he was in GWTW ? - you must be about 12 I imagine ...

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4409/04/2012

From Wikipedia He was only 50 When he died.

Howard died in 1943 when flying to Bristol, UK, from Lisbon, Portugal, on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines/BOAC Flight 777. The aircraft, "G-AGBB" a Douglas DC-3, was shot down by Luftwaffe Junkers Ju 88C6 maritime fighter aircraft over the Bay of Biscay. Howard was among the 17 fatalities, including four ex-KLM flight crew.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4509/04/2012

Watch Hiller and Howard in Pygmalion. Immediately.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4609/04/2012

[quote]He stank up the film. Howard is one of the reasons it's not aging as well as might be expected. Vivien Leigh, Hattie McDaniel and Clark Gable can only do so much, when there's still a black hole every time he walks on screen, and a case of "grand lady" acting every time Olivia comes in.

If we're very honest about it, none of the performances were anything all that special. I'm sorry, but take out the blinding technicolor and the money dripping off the screen in every scene, and there really isn't a great movie there. It's an amazing piece of movie making from a technical standpoint, but the script and the acting aren't at the same level. It was the Titanic of its day.

Watch it on a 20 inch B&W television some day, then come back and tell me I'm wrong.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4709/04/2012

Wrong R15, But I'll take it as a compliment.

As I said I haven't watched GWTW yet, but it is hard to believe he ruined the film. He was talented and good looking. At least he was to me.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4809/04/2012

Disagree about the acting. Leigh and McDaniel are brilliant. Clark Gable is Clark Gable, which is all anyone expected of him in his films. Barbara O'Neill is very good, too, as Scarlett's mother - very naturalistic and understated. And Alicia Rhett as India Wilkes is also terrific in her brief scenes.

The rest are hammy or wooden, take your pick.

But Leigh and McDaniel are performances for the ages.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 4909/04/2012

Melanie is written as a Great Lady. How else could she be played?

Who should have played the role?

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5009/04/2012

Judging by the screen tests, Andrea Leeds, r50.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5109/04/2012

Andrea Leeds got the mealy-mouthed mamby-pamby part right but didn't have Livvy's dignity or beauty.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5209/04/2012

"Clark Gable is Clark Gable, which is all anyone expected of him in his films."

But he played his very best Clark Gable here - a Clark Cable with real feelings, as well as charisma! Projecting honest emotions was something he'd rarely done before and never did again, and the prospect scared him so much he didn't want to make the film.

and I guess I'm the only one who likes Olivia DeHavilland as Melanie. There are moments when she's saying something kind and ladylike, and there's horror in her eyes.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5309/04/2012

[R52] Totally! Watch Livvy's scene when she greets Scarlett at Ashley's birthday party when that afternoon, India and Mrs. Meade had caught Scarlett and Ashley embracing and told Melanie all about it. She has a great expression, like I know this woman is a tramp, but I'm not going to make a scene. She says "India couldn't be here tonight", and you know that she had told India off already! When she presents Scarlett to Mrs. Meade, she almost defiantly says "Why Mrs. Meade. Here's our darling Scarlett". Mrs. Meade as no choice but to greet Scarlett, or else she'd regret it. That's great acting!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5409/04/2012

Uh, Melanie is the one that shoots the deserter that is about to rape Scarlett. And she gets out of her sick bed to do it. She isn't mamby-pamby in the least. If you want to see great acting, watch the seen where she reads Dickens to the women and prevents Scarlett from acting like a fool and getting the men killed.

Also, I think Ona Munson deserves credit for her performance. The seen between Belle and Melanie is terrific.

Melanie is infinitely stronger than Scarlett, but she more about substance than show.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5509/04/2012

Arghhh. scene! the scene between....

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5609/04/2012

Scarlett shoots the looting soldier, and coldly says "And now I've done murder". Melanie gets out of her sickbed and shows up with a gun, equally willing to shoot. And she give up her nightgown to mop up the blood, so the rest of the family won't know about the shooting, pretty good for a gal who can barely get out of bed.

And I don't agree that Melanie is stronger than Scarlett, except maybe emotionally. She's able to stifle her feelings and think of others all her life, something Scarlett can't do at all, but she's not strong enough to provide for an extended family the way Scarlett did.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5709/04/2012

I forgot about Ona Munson. She's terrific. The look on her face - her final look - sums up a whole character and life in one look (it's her scene with Rhett).

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5809/04/2012

Scarlett shoots the Yankee in the face. Melanie is carry a sword.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 5909/04/2012

r52, Melanie Wilkes wasn't supposed to actually be mealy-mouthed mamby-pamby. She was supposed to be super dignified and grand and gentille in a way that vulgar uncouth Scarlett wasn't deep down despite the airs she put on.

DeHavilland was great in the part.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6009/04/2012

Doesn't Scarlett refer to Melanie as mealy-mouthed if not mamby-pamby in the book? Not saying Melanie was, just Scarlet's POV.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6109/04/2012

He looks like Corky in "Life Goes On." Especially the last photo.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6209/04/2012

Vivien Leigh's performance drives the whole film. It is brilliant and holds up beautifully.

Gable is Gable but also Rhett Butler. Perfect blend of actor and role and his loss to Robert Donat, who is good, is a great mystery. (Yes, he had won before but Spencer Tracy, Bette Davis and Walter Brennan had also won two Oscars already.)

Howard's performance works because he's in on the joke, his Ashley knows exactly who he is and who he is not.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6309/04/2012

Watch the Howard make-up tests for Ashley. They are in the documentary on the making of GWTW. They had to keep adding layers of heavy pancake to remove wrinkles and they also kept lightening his hair. Several times. Selznick kept sending memos that he didn't think Howard looked young enough. He was right. The guy was in his late 40's when he played Ashley. Leslie also was afraid his costumes would make him look foppish. He was famously quoted as saying "Don't make me look like the fag doorman at the Beverly Wilshire." As it was, he ended up looking "pretty," not rugged, but with a masculine air that was confusingly British stuck in the deep South. The thing is, everything was so sumptuous about the production of GWTW that a suspension of disbelief worked on almost every level. Ashley was "proper", a gentleman, a man of honor. Intelligent. A man of his word. Leslie Howard pulled that off. I can see easily what Scarlett saw in him. He was the antithesis of the brutish, vulgar, rough-hewn but oh-so-sexy Rhett Butler, who appealed to Scarlett's prurient side. It was honor vs. virtue. ("You, sir are no gentleman. " "And YOU, miss, are no lady!") Scarlett and Rhett were more alike than Scarlett and Ashley.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6409/04/2012

His casting may have worked for some viewers, but count me among the many stymied by Scarlett chasing after Howard's drippy version of Ashley. I saw the movie for the first time when I was 13 or so, and it distracted me almost the entire film. His character was integral to the plot, yet seemed out of place and tensionless, rendering the triangle unconvincing.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6509/05/2012

Ashley is not supposed to be eight years OLDER than "old maid in britches" Frank Kennedy!

THREAD CLOSED!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6609/05/2012

They didn't cast some young hunk as Ashley because the audience would wonder why Scarlett and Melanie were so gaga over Rhett and not him, so that's why Leslie Howard was cast. Remember, Clark Gable was no spring chicken either and if he had been cast opposite some twentysomething hunk it wouldn't have been believable.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6709/05/2012

The standards of male beauty and virility were different back then. What people found attractive was different than the puny, anemic "arrested development" man/boys of today's moviegoing public. No Zak Effrons or Robert Pattinsons. "Younger" male stars meant Mickey Rooney or Freddie Bartholomew. Men had to be virile MEN onscreen. That is why Rudolph Valentino got such flack for being far too pretty for his own good. He was tagged "The Pink Powderpuff." There was a more rugged, testosterone-laden thing that made most men stars. Of course, there were always the pretty ones too. Robert Taylor and Tyrone Power to name two. But even they were thought of as virile men. Nothing androgynous or ambiguous about them onscreen, at least. Any hint of anything "less than manly" about a leading man star which, back then, meant homosexual, was carefully scripted out of screenplays and publicists worked hard to keep those manly images alive offscreen, too. Cary Grant and Van Johnson were both literally ordered to get married, for instance. William Haines, silent screen star, told L.B. Mayer to go fuck himself whenever HE was told to marry. Mayer fired him. His star imploded and he became a Hollywood interior decorator to the stars. Joan Crawford was his best friend.

Leslie Howard, already saddled with a "girl's name, "Leslie," had his work cut out for him as a leading man. His virility came through, though. First, he was allowed some "fop leeway," so to speak, simply for being British. Same with Olivier. It's just "how they were." America gave them a wider berth. There was a strength that came through in all of Howard's performances, even as "wimpy" Ashley. And he was a heterosexual, which certainly helped in terms of his reputation. In 1939. To modern audiences, it is easy to see why he would appear like a "simp" or a weak sister, of a sort. This was not foreign to 1939 audiences, either. They just were more willing to conspire with David O'Selznick and approve of the portrayal because so much ELSE of the film was so wonderful. People have spoken of these same reactions to Howard's portrayal of Ashley Wilkes, though, for decades.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6809/05/2012

"They didn't cast some young hunk as Ashley because the audience would wonder why Scarlett and Melanie were so gaga over Rhett and not him"

Are you familiar with the plot of this movie, r67? Scarlett and Melanie are both gaga over ASHLEY.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 6909/05/2012

"Doesn't Scarlett refer to Melanie as mealy-mouthed if not mamby-pamby in the book? "

Yes, but she meant it as an insult rather than an accurate description of Melanie's character. In truth, Scarlett relied on Melanie's kindness, friendship, and her superb social skills.

Scarlett also both admired and resented Melanie's ladylike qualities, and felt inferior to her in a way that brought out her mommy issues. That and the rivalry over Ashley, and the financial issues, led Scarlett to call Melanie "mealy mouthed".

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7009/05/2012

She's a pale faced, mealy mouthed ninny and for most of the book, Ah hate huh.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7109/05/2012

[quote] David O'Selznick

He was IRISH!!!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7209/05/2012

Personally, I have never liked Leslie Howard. He always reminded me of a dead fish. I somehow can't believe he was the devastating womanizer he has always been touted to be. As far as acting goes he always looks dyspeptic. His son Trevor was ten times the actor his father was.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7309/05/2012

For the record, at the beginning of GWTW the novel, the character's ages are as follows: Scarlett was 16, Melanie was 17, Ashley was around 19 or 20 and Rhett was 33. All of the actors were older than the characters they played: Leigh was 26, De Havilland was 23, Gable was 38 and Howard was a whopping 45. Howard was only one who was so absurdly older than the character he played that it was ridiculous.

Some have wondered why Scarlett was so crazy in love with Ashley. Well, in the movie it does seem preposterous. But it makes more sense in the book. In the book Ashley is young but handsome but the big attraction for Scarlett is that he's unattainable. He's the only young man in the county who didn't fall at her feet and beg for her love, and it's for this reason that he fixates on him. She has no understanding of him at all and finds his talk about books and artwork "maddeningly boring" but is facinated by him just the same. She and Ashley are complete opposites, but she thinks they're meant for each other. Gerald wisely tells her that she wouldn't be happy with him, because only when "like marries like" can there be a successful marriage. But Scarlett is hard-headed and truly believes that Ashley loves her (he doesn't) and only marries Melanie because he's an honorable man who does what he should do (the Wilkes have a tradition of always marrying their cousins).

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7409/05/2012

I must be the only one on planet who doesn't think Leslie H. was miscast, maybe that's partly because I haven't read the book - well, I tried but it was too boring.

Leslie was much sexier than Clark Gable, in fact he was my first film star crush and I was quite old when I saw GWTW. So, I read everything I could about him after seeing the movie. He was a pussyhound, he had an affair with the beautiful Merle Oberone among other ladies. So maybe my taste isn't that bad.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7509/05/2012

Honey, if you are just finding out about Leslie Howard, you are too culturally ignorant to live - - or you are about 8 years old. Either way, get some life experience and come back in a decade or so when you are aware of your world.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7609/05/2012

In the movie, both Ashley and Melanie are played as near saints. Howard is too old for the role, but otherwise the performance is fine. Scarlett really doesn't have feelings for Ashley, she's just angry that she lost him to Melanie. When she figures it out at the end it hits her like a ton of bricks. Ashley and Melanie are corny parts, but they serve as straight men for Rhett and Scarlett. If the movie had been about Melanie and Ashley it would be terrible.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7709/05/2012

Would somebody clever please post the Leslie Howard screen test? It might be very enlightening to this thread.

Thank you!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7809/05/2012

"Scarlett really doesn't have feelings for Ashley, she's just angry that she lost him to Melanie"

Actually she did love Ashley, but it was a deluded kind of love. It was motivated by her desire to conquer every man she could, but she did love him.

Near the end of the book Rhett tells Scarlett that his once passionate love for her has "worn out." Worn out against "Ashley Wilkes" and her stubborn obstinacy that causes her to "hang on like a bulldog to anything you think you want. Mine wore out." And Scarlett counters "but love can't wear out!" And Rhett says sensibly "yours for Ashley did." And Scarlett wails "but I never really loved Ashley!" And Rhett, weary of all this, tells her "you put up a fine imitation of it. Until tonight." Yes, Scarlett really did love Ashley, and it was one of the biggest mistakes of her life.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 7909/05/2012

As much as I like Clark Gable's performance in GWTW, Robert Donat's Oscar win was entirely justified.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8009/05/2012

Oh, and Trevor Howard is NOT Leslie Howard's son.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8109/05/2012

Yes, I agree. Gable was perfect as Rhett but he didn't show audiences anything new in the role.

Didn't Margaret Mitchell state that Rhett was somewhat inspired by her admiration of Gable? Did she ever comment on Leslie Howard or any of the other casting (besides the annoying Miriam Hopkins preference)?

I can't help but think Paulette Goddard would have sunk the film had she been cast. She nailed the vulgarity (too much!) but nothing else about Scarlett.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8209/05/2012

[quote]David O'Selznick

!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hilarious!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8309/05/2012

I think it would have been a mistake to cast someone as sexy as Joel McCrea as Ashley.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8409/05/2012

Was it true that Bette Davis was seriously in the running as Scarlett? She told that story for the rest of her life, and as much as I love Bette, I just can't believe Selznick would have wanted to cast her.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8509/05/2012

I believe that Scarlett in the book wasn't pretty, so Bette would have worked.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8609/05/2012

I think Ashley was 25 at the beginning of the novel -- he had gone to college and then on his Grand Tour, then had returned to Georgia a year before the story began.

Rhett was 32 when he arrived at Twelve Oaks for the barbeque.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8709/05/2012

Jack Warner tried to secure the distribution rights for Warners with Selznick in return for the services of Bette Davis and Errol Flynn as Scarlett and Rhett but this was while the book was still in galleys, not published yet making the rounds of all the studio literary departments.

Supposedly, when Warner told the rebellious Bette he possibly had the incredible role of a character named Scarlett O'Hara for her, she laughed and retorted "And I'll bet it's a pip!" and stormed out of his office.

Of course, in the end, Bette and Warners made their own version of GWTW, beating the original into the theaters by a year. And Bette won her second Oscar for Jezebel.

She probably looks prettier and sexier in that role than in any of her others.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8809/05/2012

I thought Paulette Goddard's screen tests were very, very impressive. Didn't Jean Arthur also audition?

That said, only Leigh could be Scarlett.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 8909/05/2012

Terribly sorry. I knew Leslie had two children. I knew one of them was Ronald Howard, who played Sherlock Holmes in the 50's and I thought the other was Trevor. Seems Leslie's other child was a girl. My Mistake. I still think he was a pallid uninteresting actor whose career was always a mystery to me. But to eact his own.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9009/05/2012

Contrary to an earlier post, I believe all Leslies were men until the 1950s.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9109/05/2012

Here are the screen tests. Howard's tests begin at the 7:39 mark.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9209/05/2012

Thanks for posting r92.

Now let's really hear the opinions!

Andrea Leeds wasn't too bad as Melanie. Just a little overly modest. Not regal.

I like Joan Bennett as Scarlett but maybe it's because she's closest physically to Vivien Leigh.

Tallulah, she obviously couldn't take a moment of it seriously!

Susan Hayward and Lana Trner were just too callow and inexperienced.

Frances Dee was just plain awful! I wonder if she somehow hurt hubby Joel McCrea's chances at Ashley?

Jean Arthur....how in the world did she become one of the top finalists?!? Too old, too blonde, too....that scratchy voice.

Paulette! As Cukor says "Your face is just so hard!"

Vivien was just letter perfect even in the earliest screen test. That beautiful long neck and long waist!

Jeffrey Lynn played Ashley as gay. He practically lisps.

Never thought Melvyn Douglas was particularly sexy until this. But he's no Ashley. "Too beefy." Indeed.

I thought Leslie Howard was adorable in the tests. Far better than he is in the film. He seems very sweet and modest and like he could take it or leave it.

Gable, all business, humorless.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9309/05/2012

Those are makeup and hairline experiments on Howard. Selznick wanted Howard to look as young as possible--he was a middle aged man.

Howard didn't want the role, but he wanted to be a producer. Selznick arranged for him to work as an producer (assistant?) on the Ingrid Bergman movie "Intermezzo." in order to secure his agreement to play Ashley.

Ashley is a young girl's romantic dream and just about impossible to cast. As noted above, if the actor was attractive enough to fulfill the dream angle, then the ending would be skewed. ("Well, at least she still has Ashley in reserve.")

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9409/05/2012

Wow! What's with all the dislike for Howard in the part? I thought he was perfect. Very sexy and I couuld understand why Scarlett lusted after him. I would have done him in a heartbeat.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9509/05/2012

He was a hag.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9609/05/2012

OP, if you liked LH in SP, you might also enjoy him in such frothy comedies as "It's Love I'm After" and "Stand In" (they're occasionally shown on TCM). He's also very good in "49th Parallel."

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9709/05/2012

Wasn't Leslie Howard responsible for bringing Ingrid Bergman to Hollywood? He saw her in the Swedish version of Intermezzo and insisted to Selznick that only she could do the American version with him.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9809/06/2012

I liked Jeffrey Lynn as Ashley.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 9909/06/2012

Interesting r98.

Hardly R96. I thought he was very good looking.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10009/06/2012

After losing the role of Scarlett, Bette Davis did JEZEBEL, playing a similar character. Being a less "epic" production, it came out before GWTW.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10109/06/2012

"I believe that Scarlett in the book wasn't pretty, so Bette would have worked."

Not really. Although she's described as being "not beautiful" Scarlett is frequently described as "pretty." Bette Davis was, even at her best, NOT pretty.

Although she WAS beautiful, Vivien Leigh seemed to be the perfect physical type for Scarlett: fairly tall, black-haired, green-eyed, fair-skinned. She was absolutely perfect for the role, as Gable was for his.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10209/06/2012

But most importantly, verificatia of the Howard size meat??

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10309/06/2012

Leslie Howard looked like Albert Nobbs.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10409/06/2012

I'd have to disagree with you on that R104.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10509/06/2012

When Selznick brought Ingrid Bergman to Hollywood, he wanted to change her name because he worried Bergman sounded too German in pre-WWII America, he wanted to tweeze her eyebrows into the standard starlet arch and he wanted her to only wear flat shoes because he thought she was too tall.

He only got his way in the last instance.

Has anyone ever noticed that Gable and Grable are Americanized versions of the very German Goebbels and Graebel?

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10609/06/2012

Leslie Howard was kind of homely. Chicks just dug his accent. That is what got him over. Without it, he was just another fug British guy. The same with David Niven.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10709/06/2012

Wait a minute! for years I heard Leslie Howard was gay.Now people are saying on this thread he was straight?

BTW, I think he was very handsome!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10809/10/2012

Vivien Leigh cannot act.

Bette Davis would've been way better.

GONE WITH THE WIND is a piece of violent racist propaganda, and every copy of it should be burned.

It's not just a bad film, it's a criminal film.

Shame on any of you for enjoying it.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 10909/10/2012

R109, why don't you do us a favor and sit on a land mine with a smile!! Nazi!

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11009/10/2012

He was handsome when he was younger, but he was simply too old for his role in GWTW.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11109/10/2012

R109 = troll or retard or both

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11209/10/2012

"Wait a minute! for years I heard Leslie Howard was gay.Now people are saying on this thread he was straight?"

That's because he WAS straight. He was quite the ladie's man. I can understand how some people may not go for his type, but he really was a very attractive man. And yes, he was very miscast in GWTW.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11309/11/2012

LOL at r109 equating Gone With the Wind with The Birth of a Nation. The book and movie (though less than the book) underneath the romance and period costumes transmitted subtle anti-war and anti-greed messages that said as much about 1930s America as it did about 1860s America. As for the film making black people look dumb, well yeah it had that silly comic relief scene of Peter chasing chickens and Prissy was a stupid bitch with her birthin babies shit. But remember it also made white old Aunt Pittypat the biggest ninny of them all.

And as for Bette Davis vs. Vivien Leigh... I just can't imagine it working as well with her, certainly not with the script they had. Maybe if she was portraying Scarlett more like in the book, but for the movie whatever acting chops Vivien lacked worked great for Scarlett because she was supposed to be playing a coquette.

Anyway... I just decided to pop back in this thread regarding the Leslie Howard casting. I wonder if Ralph Bellamy could have done better? Was Laurence Olivier ever considered?

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11409/14/2012

Or David Niven, for that matter?

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11509/14/2012

I don't think looks were the issue since Clark Gable was one of the ugliest movie stars ever. His charm is what women lusted for. Howard showed no charm, personality or anything for that matter. Maybe the character was written that way but it made it so hard to understand that a character like Scarlett would even glance his way. Even Charles Hamilton was better than Ashley, played by Howard. I still love the movie though....

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11609/14/2012

Bette Davis lacked Scarlett's appeal to men, Vivien Leigh had it out the wazoo. Scarlett was supposed to be able to charm any man into doing whatever she wanted, while Bette Davis preferred to terrify them.

Scarlett needed sex appeal, and Bette Davis never had any.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11709/14/2012

Clark Gable one of the ugliest movie stars ever? What the?

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11809/14/2012

While I think Leigh was a fantastic Scarlett and perfect for the part. Davis' is very sexually appealing in Jezebel and could've handled that aspect of Scarlett quite nicely. Davis' performance in Jezebel is one of her finest, which means that it is one of THE finest as she is one of the all time, if not THE all time greatest film actress. Only her performances in The Letter and All About Eve surpass her performance as Julie.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 11909/15/2012

Am I the only one who thinks Vivien Leigh was pretty good in other stuff. I mean... besides A Streetcar Named Desire?

I adored her "Anna Karenina" and really enjoyed her performance in "That Hamilton Woman."

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12009/15/2012

Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes was the epitome of a sensitive, elegant gentleman -- bound by honor, but racked with passion. His beautiful eyes radiate intelligence.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12109/15/2012

What passion? It's not like they had Viagra for old guys in those days.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12209/15/2012

Howard was so dull as Ashley. You could tell he was bored with the role and was just phoning it in. Besides, he was 20 years too old. Just all wrong in every respect.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12309/15/2012

R118 His ears were like wings, his face was sort of mushed together. Take a look at some pics

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12409/15/2012

Leighs' favorite role was, very surprisingly, NOT Scarlett O'Hara. It was the Lady Hamilton in That Hamilton Woman, probably because she got to work with her husband, Olivier. She was absolutely divine in Waterloo Bridge, Anna Karenina, Streetcar Named Desire, The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and Ship of Fools. Consummate actress, tortured by health problems, both mental and physical. THAT is what ended her marriage to Olivier. He finally could not take her intensity any longer.

She did not age as well as others often comment that she did. I think not long after Streetcar was released, she began showing the effects of her mental and physical health problems (tuberculosis and manic-depression, bi-polar). It all showed in her lovely face.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12509/15/2012

I still feel Howard is the weakest link but calling him a miscast is only something we have the benefit of Hindisght.

Anyone who disagrees should do what the OP of this thread did and watch his role as Sir Percy Blakeney in The Scarlet Pimpernal. He was just so convincingly a dashing Knight In Shining Armor and Romantic and when I watched the movie I thought Howard was exactly spot-on as how I pictured Ashley Wilkes to when I was reading the book.

Its only with hindsight have we realized Leslie Howard, at least the state he was during the time the movie was filmed, turned out to be the bad choice.

However when Gone With the Wind was first released in theatres, Howard was still an international superstar on the same scale as Clark Gable and had so many drooling fangirls as a result of his previous work. So there WERE many girls who drooled over him as they watched the film back during the film's initial release. It isn't like today where we all bash him for looking too old and being a miscast, the popular opinion was different at the time (even though Howard wasn't being as best in this role as he could have been).

And he wasn't entirely bad...........

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12604/23/2013

[quote]I still feel Howard is the weakest link but calling him a miscast is only something we have the benefit of Hindisght.

No.

He was born in 1893. According to the book Ashley is only three years older than Scarlett and thus much closer to her age than Rhett. But, Leslie Howard was older than Gable and just a year younger than Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O'Hara).

It's clear from looking at the screen tests that he is totally unsuited for the part.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12704/23/2013

Actually, if you were to cast Ashley perfectly, it would have been Randolph Scott; tall, blond, handsome and a southern gentleman(though never a great actor.) I have to admit I like Leslie Howard in it. It's his intelligence and maturity that makes it work.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12804/23/2013

"MorteImperator" seems to have bumped up three different "Gone with the Wind" threads, trolling to get a response about Leslie Howard's awful performance.

[quote] It's his intelligence and maturity that makes it work.

Ashley is intelligent, but he isn't supposed to be "mature". There is supposed to be a contrast between Ashley (who is a little older Scarlett) and Rhett (the older man). Leslie Howard's maturity was completely wrong.

by Young man in love with old hollywoodreply 12904/23/2013
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