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LEIGH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION

For Hicksflicks.com, Nov. 15, 2013

Vivien Leigh is best known for her starring role in her first American movie, the most popular film of all time. No, not "Titanic" (1997), and not "Avatar" (2009) either. The most popular movie of all time — in terms of the number of tickets sold, not dollars collected (inflation being what it is) — is "Gone With the Wind" (1939).

Leigh played Scarlett O'Hara in "Gone With the Wind," and took home an Oscar for her efforts. Then she won again for "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951).

However, before she landed the coveted role of Scarlett in "GWTW," Leigh had been a star in her native England, and the four most important films she made that pushed her toward stardom during that period have long been available on DVD in scratchy, fuzzy, soft-sound prints that leave something to be desired.

But now, all four have been remastered, cleaned up, given a high-definition sheen and packaged in "The Vivien Leigh Anniversary Collection" (Cohen Film Collection), available on both Blu-ray and DVD … the "anniversary" being the late actor's 100th birthday.

The films are a costume drama, "Fire Over England" (1936, b/w), during which she met future husband Laurence Olivier; "Dark Journey" (1937, b/w), a World War I spy romance/thriller; "Storm in a Teacup" (1937, b/w), a drawing-room comedy with Rex Harrison; and the plucky musical comedy "St. Martin's Place" (aka "Sidewalks of London") (1938, b/w), with Harrison again and Charles Laughton.

All four are very entertaining films and it's fun to watch Leigh progress in her confidence and ability through these pictures, realizing the impact she would make just a few years later with "Gone With the Wind."