Monday, August 1, 2016
Originally titled The Sphinx has Spoken, the film did not do well upon release, losing $260,000. Olivier, in his first American film, later claimed that the film "died the death of a dog." (Complete Films of Laurence Olivier); it has also been related that Olivier was having a horrible time converting his acting to a more filmic style. According to this TCM article, director Victor Schertzinger spent much of his time getting a decent performance out of him: "It was apparent right from the start that Olivier was completely out of his element acting in movies. He had absolutely no camera sense - my god, we often had to stop takes because he'd look at the camera in the middle of a scene. And he acted the way he did on the stage - all broad gestures and a face forever busy with expressions. He was totally unnatural, an amateur....He was uncomfortable being asked not to 'act,' but just be himself." In spite of Schertzinger's efforts, Olivier is still obviously uncomfortable in the role. It would take him years to finally discover the key to screen acting, but when he did - in Wuthering Heights (1939) - it was magic.
clip from the film - the entrance of Laurence Olivier. Next time, we'll return with an Olivia de Havilland film from the 1960s.