The Top 10 Best Vivien Leigh Movies of All Time

A Streetcar Named Desire, Gone with the Wind, That Hamilton Woman, and more!

Ranking the very best Vivien Leigh movies of all time was no easy feat. Though Leigh only has 19 acting credits in feature films to her name, she starred in some excellent films over the decades. She is one of the most iconic Old Hollywood actresses for a reason. 

But we have attempted to narrow her best films down to 10 below. With films released from the 1930s to the 1960s, every movie on this list below is amazing — and a must-watch if you’re looking to watch the best of the best Leigh films! 

The Top 10 Best Vivien Leigh Movies, Ranked

10. The Deep Blue Sea (1955)

Genre: Romance / Drama

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Kenneth More, Eric Portman, Emlyn Williams

Directed by: Anatole Litvak

Up at #10, we’ve got 1955’s The Deep Blue Sea, which is a bit of an underrated Vivien Leigh film. But that doesn’t mean it should continue to be slept on! Leigh plays a woman who is unhappy with her marriage, so she has an affair with a younger RAF pilot. However, this younger man may end up being more than she can handle… 

9. Fire Over England (1937)

Genre: History / Adventure / Romance

Starring: Laurence Olivier, Flora Robson, Vivien Leigh, Raymond Massey

Directed by: William K. Howard

Fire Over England is definitely one of the best Vivien Leigh movies of all time. Starring opposite her future husband Laurence Olivier (they would wed three years later in 1940), Leigh plays one of Queen Elizabeth’s (Robson) ladies in waiting in Fire Over England. The historical picture follows a British spy (Olivier) who infiltrates the Spanish court for Queen Elizabeth. 

Though the Queen begins to fall for her spy, her spy only has eyes for one of her ladies in waiting (Leigh). Any film that combined the talents of Olivier and Leigh is a winner in our book! 

As the story goes, it was Leigh’s performance in this excellent film that eventually got her the chance to play Scarlett in Gone With the Wind

8. A Yank at Oxford (1938)

Genre: Romance / Drama

Starring: Robert Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O’Sullivan

Directed by: Jack Conway

A Yank at Oxford stars Leigh in more of a supporting role, but it’s still one of her very best films! This romantic drama follows a brash, cocky American student (Taylor) who goes to Oxford University and faces hazing and major trouble. It’s a great movie! 

Related — The Top 10 Best Maureen O’Sullivan Movies of All Time

7. Sidewalks of London (1938)

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Charles Laughton, Vivien Leigh, Rex Harrison, Larry Adler

Directed by: Tim Whelan

Sidewalks of London, also known as St. Martin’s Lane, is definitely one of the best Vivien Leigh movies of all time. In this film, a street performer (Laughton) helps an orphan and pickpocketer (Leigh) change her life and become a dancer. However, things get rather dramatic when they meet a songwriter (Harrison). 

6. Anna Karenina (1948)

Genre: Romance / Drama

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Kieron Moore, Hugh Dempster

Directed by: Julien Duvivier

Anna Karenina is also one of the very best Vivien Leigh movies of all time. How could it not be?! In this film adaptation of the classic Leo Tolstoy novel, Leigh plays a married woman who risks her entire life and future on an illicit love affair. There’s something really special about this 1948 Anna Karenina — so you really must watch it.

5. That Hamilton Woman (1941)

Genre: History / Romance / Drama

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Alan Mowbray, Sara Allgood

Directed by: Alexander Korda

Married couple Leigh and Olivier reunited on screen in 1941 to star in That Hamilton Woman together — and thank goodness for that. That Hamilton Woman is a fantastic woman and one of the best Vivien Leigh movies of all time. 

Set during the Napoleonic Wars of the late 1800s, this romantic drama follows a married woman (Leigh) who falls in love with a Naval Hero (Olivier). It’s romantic, it’s tragic, it’s heartbreaking — and it’s amazing. It’s also a part of the Criterion Collection (spine #487)!

Related — Laurence Olivier: 6 Essential 1940s Movies

4. Ship of Fools (1965)

Genre: War / Romance / Drama

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, José Ferrer, Lee Marvin

Directed by: Stanley Kramer

Ship of Fools is also one of the best Vivien Leigh movies of all time — and also the very best film she starred in during the 1960s. Ship of Fools follows passengers on a steamship in the 1930s heading to Germany. The passengers deal with their own issues, as well as the rise of Nazism. Leigh plays an American divorcee — and is absolutely riveting to watch.

Ship of Fools is a notable Leigh film for multiple reasons. It is a great film, but it’s also the last feature film Leigh starred in before her death in 1967. 

Related — Vivien Leigh’s 1960s Movies, Ranked

3. Waterloo Bridge (1940)

Genre: War / Romance / Drama

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, Lucile Watson, Virginia Field

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy

And now, we’re getting to the best of the best. These last three films are absolutely wonderful! In Waterloo Bridge, Leigh plays a ballerina who meets a British officer (Taylor) at the beginning of World War I. When he is called to active duty and she leaves her performance to say goodbye to him, she is let go and forced to find a new way to survive, struggling to make ends meet in the process. 

She turns to prostitution and believes that her love has died, her life hitting rock bottom. But, of course, he isn’t dead. Can he save her?

Waterloo Bridge is an excellent romantic drama, full of intrigue and heartbreak and everything you want from a 1940s romantic tragedy. Therefore, it’s also one of the best Vivien Leigh movies of all time.  

Interestingly, both Leigh and Taylor considered Waterloo Bridge to be a personal favorite of theirs! 

2. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Genre: Drama

Starring: Vivien Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden

Directed by: Elia Kazan

A Streetcar Named Desire is definitely one of the best Vivien Leigh movies of all time. If this was any other actor, this movie would be her very best. But this is Leigh — and there must be another movie at our #1 spot… 

Often considered one of the best movies of all time, A Streetcar Named Desire follows a fading Southern belle (Leigh) who goes to New Orleans to try to build a new life with her sister (Hunter). But her sister’s husband (Brando) throws a wrench into everything — and it’s riveting to watch. 

1. Gone with the Wind (1939)

Genre: War / Romance / Drama

Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, Barbara O’Neil, Leslie Howard

Directed by: Victor Fleming

Gone with the Wind is the best Vivien Leigh movie of all time, without a doubt. Gone with the Wind is often considered THE best movie ever made. While the film does have its flaws, it’s also an incredible film — and Leigh gives the best performance of her career as the fiery Scarlett O’Hara. 

In this epic drama set in the south during the Civil War, we follow Scarlett as her idyllic life is turned upside down. We also follow her through her major loves — Ashley Wilkes (Howard) and Rhett Butler (Gable) — and her many ups, downs, and tragedies. 

Related — The Top 10 Best Clark Gable Movies of All Time

What’s Your Favorite Vivien Leigh Movie?

Comment below your own favorite Vivien Leigh movie! Do you agree with this list? Would you change things up a bit? Hit the comments below with all your thoughts and opinions about this iconic Old Hollywood actress! I’d love to hear what you have to say! 

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