Vivien Leigh Collection [6 Discs] [DVD]
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Overview

Synopsis

Caesar and Cleopatra
George Bernard Shaw adapted his own play for the screen in this blithe film version of the romance between Caesar (Claude Rains) and Cleopatra (Vivien Leigh). Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra are merely Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle cast back into ancient times with Caesar doting with admiration and burgeoning love upon Cleopatra and expostulating, "You have been growing up since the Sphinx introduced us the other night." The story is a simple one concerning Caesar instructing Cleopatra on how to act like a queen. But Cleopatra is left cold by Caesar and his blatherings. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

That Hamilton Woman
Acting spouses Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh star in Alexander Korda's tragic tale of the adulterous love affair between Emma Lady Hamilton and Lord Horatio Nelson. The story begins in 1786, as the young and vivacious Emma Hart (Vivien Leigh) marries Sir William Hamilton (Alan Mowbray), the British ambassador to the court of Naples. Seven years pass and British naval hero Lord Horatio Nelson (Laurence Olivier) arrives at court to gain the king's assent in the war against Napoleon. Lady Emma and Lord Nelson fall in love. When they return to England, Emma and Nelson unashamedly begin to live together, although Nelson's wife refuses to divorce him. When the war takes a bad turn, Emma convinces Nelson to resume command and Nelson goes off to lead the victory at Trafalgar, where he is mortally wounded. After Nelson's death, Emma falls into depression and despair. ~ Paul Brenner, Rovi

Anna Karenina
This 1948 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina was produced in England by Alexander Korda, and released in the US by 20th Century-Fox. Vivien Leigh plays the title role, a 19th-century Russian gentlewoman married to Czarist official Ralph Richardson. Though her marriage is not intolerable, Anna is swept off her feet by dashing young military officer Vronsky, played by Kieron Moore. The ensuing scandal ruins Anna's status in society. Anna Karenina had previously been filmed twice in Hollywood, with both versions starring Greta Garbo. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Waterloo Bridge
Given the omnipresence of the Motion Picture Production Code in 1940, the second film version of Robert E. Sherwood's Waterloo Bridge would have to be laundered and softened to pass muster. In the original, made in 1931, the heroine is nothing more or less than a streetwalker, patrolling London's Waterloo Bridge during World War I in hopes of picking up the occasional soldier. She falls in love with one of her clients, a young officer from an aristocratic family. Gently informed by the young man's mother that any marriage would be absolutely impossible, the streetwalker tearfully agrees, letting her beau down gently before ending her own life by walking directly into the path of an enemy bomb. In the remake, told in flashback as a means of "distancing" the audience from what few unsavory story elements were left, the heroine, Vivien Leigh, starts out as a virginal ballerina. Robert Taylor, a British officer from a wealthy family, falls in love with Vivien and brings her home to his folks. This time around, Taylor's uncle (C. Aubrey Smith), impressed by Vivien's sincerity, reluctantly agrees to the upcoming marriage. When Taylor marches off to war, Vivien abandons an important dance recital to bid her fiance goodbye, losing her job as a result. Later, she is led to believe that Taylor has been killed in battle. Thus impoverished and aggrieved, she is given a motivation for turning to prostitution, a plot element deemed unecessary in the original-which indeed it was. Now the stage is set for her final sacrifice, though the suicidal elements are carefully weeded out. Waterloo Bridge was remade for a second time in 1956 as Gaby, with Leslie Caron and John Kerr. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Gone With the Wind
Gone With the Wind boils down to a story about a spoiled Southern girl's hopeless love for a married man. Producer David O. Selznick managed to expand this concept, and Margaret Mitchell's best-selling novel, into nearly four hours' worth of screen time, on a then-astronomical 3.7-million-dollar budget, creating what would become one of the most beloved movies of all time. Gone With the Wind opens in April of 1861, at the palatial Southern estate of Tara, where Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) hears that her casual beau Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) plans to marry "mealy mouthed" Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland). Despite warnings from her father (Thomas Mitchell) and her faithful servant Mammy (Hattie McDaniel), Scarlett intends to throw herself at Ashley at an upcoming barbecue at Twelve Oaks. Alone with Ashley, she goes into a fit of histrionics, all of which is witnessed by roguish Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), the black sheep of a wealthy Charleston family, who is instantly fascinated by the feisty, thoroughly self-centered Scarlett: "We're bad lots, both of us." The movie's famous action continues from the burning of Atlanta (actually the destruction of a huge wall left over from King Kong) through the now-classic closing line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Holding its own against stiff competition (many consider 1939 to be the greatest year of the classical Hollywood studios), Gone With the Wind won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar). The film grossed nearly 192 million dollars, assuring that, just as he predicted, Selznick's epitaph would be "The Man Who Made Gone With the Wind." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

A Streetcar Named Desire
In the classic play by Tennessee Williams, brought to the screen by Elia Kazan, faded Southern belle Blanche DuBois (Vivien Leigh) comes to visit her pregnant sister, Stella (Kim Hunter), in a seedy section of New Orleans. Stella's boorish husband, Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando), not only regards Blanche's aristocratic affectations as a royal pain but also thinks she's holding out on inheritance money that rightfully belongs to Stella. On the fringes of sanity, Blanche is trying to forget her checkered past and start life anew. Attracted to Stanley's friend Mitch (Karl Malden), she glosses over the less savory incidents in her past, but she soon discovers that she cannot outrun that past, and the stage is set for her final, brutal confrontation with her brother-in-law. Brando, Hunter, and Malden had all starred in the original Broadway version of Streetcar, although the original Blanche had been Jessica Tandy. Brando lost out to Humphrey Bogart for the 1951 Best Actor Oscar, but Leigh, Hunter, and Malden all won Oscars. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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