Gone With the Wind
Release year: 1939
Director: Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Sam Wood
Screenwriter: Sidney Howard, Margaret Mitchell (novel)
Starring: Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Cammie King Conlon, Barbara O’Neill, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Rutherford
Ratings: 8 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography (color), Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing.5 Oscar nominations: Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Supporting Actress (Olivia de Havilland), Best Sound, Best Special Effects, Best Original Score.
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #37, week 8 2015
The epic tale of the strong willed Scarlett O’Hara (Viven Leigh) and her struggle to keep her spirit and her beloved Tara during the American Civil War and about her passionate relationship with her male equal Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).
They don’t make movies in this scale anymore and somehow I doubt that they could. It seems impossible that someone could make a four hour long drama today and make people rush to the cinema to see it. But that is excactly what happened when Gone With the Wind was released. Based on the bestselling novel by Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind was highly anticipated and didn’t disappoint went it blew into cinemas and dazzled its audience. As a true classic it has so far proven ageless and todays audience will undoubtly find themselves as mesmerized by the dramatic tale of spoiled southern belle Scarlett O’Hara as the audience was at its premiere. Understanding the importance of casting the right Scarlett, more than 1400 candidates were interviewed with 90 screen-tested before the choice fell on British actress Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951) who was choosen due to her striking resemblance to the Scarlett O’Hara described by Margaret Mitchell, and after training with an expert in southern dialects, Leigh disappeared completely into the part as the self-centered, arrogant and head-strong Scarlett with such a force that she not only instantly become one with the character, she completely stole the entire movie. In retrospect it seems unlikely that anyone else but Gable (It Happened One Night, 1934) could have been a match for Leigh and he was the popular choice for Rhett Butler at the time as well. The strong willed heroine consists of much more than meets the eye, and Rhett’s appreciation of his feisty love interest helps us as audience to recognise the courage, determination but also the insecure heart buried beneath her pouty lips. The character of Rhett Butler (by Gable called a ‘once in a lifetime oppertunity’) is wonderfully complex in that he is seen as something of a lout while turning out to show more integrity than most of the characters in the movie. Like that of his leading lady, the character Rhett Butler was real and breathing, a mixture of Mitchell’s brilliant writing and the two actors’ outstanding performances. It definitely took a man to match the head strong O’Hara and Gable easily manages to give that strength to his character while adding so much passion that he still has women all over the world sighing at the sight of him. To support Gable and Leigh were a brilliant cast dominated by among other Leslie Howard (Pygmalion, 1938) as Ashley and an adorable Olivia de Havilland (The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938) as his sweet wife Melanie, but especially an excellent and Oscar winning performance by Hattie McDaniel (Song of the South, 1946) whose Mammy lends her strength and attitude to the movie, and Butterfly McQueen (The Mosquito Coast, 1986) as the lazy drama queen Prissy. With the horror of war, passionate love, tender friendships and love triangles, Gone With the Wind has something to please just about everyone and it is still more than capeable of leaving you captured by its glory. Without doubt still one of the greatest classics and one of the best movies ever made!
Hattie McDaniel who was the first African-American to win an Academy Award was unable to attend the premiere in racially segregated Atlanta annoying Clark Gable to a degree were he threatened to boycott the premiere unless she could attend. Hattie McDaniel convinced him to go anyway.
During the scene in which Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs a lot of things went wrong and Gable ended up carrying Leigh up the stairs about a dozen times before the director were satisfied with the result. After he had asked Gable to try it once more the director thanked Gable: ‘I really didn’t need that shot – I just had a little bet on that you couldn’t make it.’
There are more than 50 speaking roles and 2,400 extras in the film.
Picture copyright: Sandrew Metronome