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She sat sideways, making a long curve of her body, studying me with her quizzical green eyes.'Do I make you nervous?

After Leigh's indiscretion about Gable's attempted rape of her, my guess is plenty.

And in a new book, Frankly, My Dear: Gone With The Wind Revisited, American film critic Molly Haskell delivers the goods.

But it wasn't until we were about to sit down that I was introduced to my dinner companion, the promised treat: Vivien Leigh.

The former wife of Sir Laurence Olivier - they had been the golden couple of their day - and a two-time Oscar winner (the first, when she was 26, for her headstrong heroine Scarlett O'Hara in the most successful blockbuster ever, Gone With The Wind; the second for A Streetcar Named Desire), Vivien was then in her early 50s.

He was a method actor long before they invented the method,' she told me, matter-of-factly.

Gable, she said, had 'probably got a little over-heated' watching her being squeezed into Scarlett's 16-inch-waist corset - which the American feminist writer Gloria Steinem would later describe as 'a perfect illustration of female bondage, Southern style'.

The beauty that was Scarlett had faded, along with her career.

The skin had tightened across her cheekbones and her small face was as pale as a pearl.

But in spite of a series of increasingly serious breakdowns, bouts of schizophrenia for which she had undergone electric-shock therapy, and a reputation for sometimes drinking too much, she was still a mesmeric and extraordinarily attractive woman.

I knew she was not fond of talking to journalists, and the evening was going to be tricky.

Co-stars Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland and many of the biggest names in Hollywood flew to Atlanta for the week-long celebration.

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