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Happy b'day, Gone with the Wind!


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#1 dirac

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 04:19 PM

The novel is seventy-five this year. This NYT article is illustrated with a photograph of the wonderfully named Selina Faye Sorrow, wearing a homemade replica of the dress Vivien Leigh as Scarlett wears to the barbecue at Twelve Oaks. Apparently she will make replicas of the film’s costumes for a fee, and darned if I wasn’t tempted to ring her up and order a copy of the frock Scarlett wears during Christmas dinner while Ashley is home on furlough, maybe with the green bonnet Rhett brought her from Paris. On the other hand, it might be nice to get a red wig and deck myself out as Belle Watling’s shameless bad woman in red and purple and gold. Of course, eventually my family would have the men in white come and take me away, but it would be fun while it lasted.

New revelations are treated like gold. A news article last month about the final typescript of the last four chapters of the book being at a Southport, Conn., library shot through the Windies’ community — at least a minority of which is more dedicated to the book than the movie.

At some gatherings, actors from the film show up and offer autographs, sometimes for sale. Of course, most of the notable stars have died, most recently Cammie King Conlon, who as a child played Bonnie Blue Butler.


Her name wasn't actually Bonnie Blue Butler, but let it pass.

#2 richard53dog

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 04:58 PM

The novel is seventy-five this year. This NYT article is illustrated with a photograph of the wonderfully named Selina Faye Sorrow, wearing a homemade replica of the dress Vivien Leigh as Scarlett wears to the barbecue at Twelve Oaks. Apparently she will make replicas of the film’s costumes for a fee, and darned if I wasn’t tempted to ring her up and order a copy of the frock Scarlett wears during Christmas dinner while Ashley is home on furlough, maybe with the green bonnet Rhett brought her from Paris. On the other hand, it might be nice to get a red wig and deck myself out as Belle Watling’s shameless bad woman in red and purple and gold. Of course, eventually my family would have the men in white come and take me away, but it would be fun while it lasted.

New revelations are treated like gold. A news article last month about the final typescript of the last four chapters of the book being at a Southport, Conn., library shot through the Windies’ community — at least a minority of which is more dedicated to the book than the movie.

At some gatherings, actors from the film show up and offer autographs, sometimes for sale. Of course, most of the notable stars have died, most recently Cammie King Conlon, who as a child played Bonnie Blue Butler.


Her name wasn't actually Bonnie Blue Butler, but let it pass.



That was a fun article. I guess I used to be a "windy" but I've sort of changed my attitude toward the book as well as the movie. Still, it's fun to read about the stuff.

#3 dirac

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Posted 28 April 2011 - 05:13 PM

It is a fun article. I find that both book and movie get better with the years – I see different things in them and appreciate different qualities that weren’t immediately apparent to me when I was a kid. I’ve never had the impulse to collect memorabilia but I certainly understand it....

#4 miliosr

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 04:39 PM

I share your love for Gone With the Wind (especially the book), dirac. It will always reside uneasily in many minds due to its depiction of slavery and Reconstruction (i.e. Lines like "We sure miss the good old days when we were slaves!") but Scarlett O'Hara is a monumental character. And, to my mind, it's one of the greatest anti-war novels ever written.

#5 canbelto

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 08:05 PM

I absolutely adore both the novel and the movie. It's been a long time since I read the novel but I remember thinking that the movie was a very faithful adaptation of a very long novel, in general. Rhett and Scarlett always have a special place in my heart, and the romantic in me believes that they will get back together if not tomorrow, then eventually.

The blu-ray edition of the movie is spectacular, and for not so much you can get a three-disc "Scarlett edition" which contains tons of bonuses.

#6 dirac

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 09:01 PM

Thanks, canbelto, I hear the Blu-ray is great.

miliosr, thanks. I'm not sure that I'd call GWTW an antiwar novel in the sense that Mitchell set out to debunk war, but it's certainly a vivid depiction of the devastation war can bring.I think her view of the war is mixed - after all, even Rhett Butler does wind up defending the Cause he's spent his time jeering at and the kind and generous Melanie is also one of the most unyielding of the Confederate matrons, even if she does speak up for pulling weeds from Yankee graves. The dated and/or repellent aspects of her depiction of slavery and the postwar status of the former slaves are obvious, but even within that frame there's more nuance than you'd think. (Putting the Klan in there was the publisher's idea, apparently - I wish Mitchell had put up more of a fight against that one.)

Scarlett O'Hara is a monumental character


Yes indeed - one of the great heroines of American literature, whatever the flaws of the novel.

I love the movie, which improves on the novel in some ways (not in others).

Rhett and Scarlett always have a special place in my heart, and the romantic in me believes that they will get back together if not tomorrow, then eventually.


Perhaps. Or Rhett proves adamant and she returns to Atlanta after a decent interval, marries Ashley, takes back the management of her mills and spends the rest of her life ordering everyone around. :)

#7 canbelto

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 09:16 PM

Also, my mom adored the book and movie, and we bonded watching the movie or talking about the book. My mom loves Scarlett, as do I, although I love Rhett more. We always both talk about how we want to reach through the screen to slap Scarlett every time she's rude to Rhett. Yeah, you could say I come from a family of GWTW enthusiasts. :clapping:

About the movie, I think of course that Vivien Leigh's performance is deservedly a classic, but I also think Clark Gable captured the tough/tender Rhett perfectly.

#8 richard53dog

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 06:21 AM

About the movie, I think of course that Vivien Leigh's performance is deservedly a classic, but I also think Clark Gable captured the tough/tender Rhett perfectly.



Yeah, I'm not that much a fan of the movie anymore but agree that both Leigh and Gable were very, very fine in this. Both really capture a lot of different facets about their characters. But I think the cast drops off rather abruptly after this pair except for Hattie McDaniel.

#9 dirac

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 11:27 AM

I have to disagree again, richard3dog, sorry. I think de Havilland is excellent and very few others at the time or now would have known how to walk that fine line between sweet and saccharine as she does. Howard looks and acts far from his best but he's not bad, just not at his best, especially considering he really, really didn't want to be there, and in a couple of scenes he's pretty good. Going further down the list Thomas Mitchell is just right as Gerald even with the a touch of caricature and Barbara O'Neil in her few scenes does communicate Ellen O'Hara's gentleness and remoteness. Butterfly McQueen manages to bring something to her part in spite of the odds. I could go on but you get the picture, so to speak.

#10 canbelto

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 03:14 AM

I had this to write about the acting:

Vivien Leigh's Southern accent comes and goes, but her portrayal of the spitfire Scarlett is still one of the most memorable screen portrayals of all time. Scarlett is a villainess technically, but Leigh makes her a charming villainess, one that the audience can't help but love. She's spirited, she's smart, she's tough, and I think many women love the film because we love her strength of character. We understand why Rhett Butler would follow her around for years, just hoping that she'll return even a fraction of his love for her. There are small moments of her performance that I love. One is after she returns to Tara, and the slave Mammy needles her with questions. "I don't know," she says, her voice flat and exhausted. The scene that follows is one of the film's most famous -- as Scarlett stands in her garden and says "As God is my witness I'll never be hungry again." But I still think that small moment when she is too exhausted to even answer Mammy is more touching. I love the spunk with which she throws dirt at the former overseer and says "That's all of Tara you'll ever get." And of course who doesn't love the final scene of the film, when Scarlett swears she'll get Rhett back. "After all, tomorrow is another day!" she says, her face tearful but not broken. Leigh makes Scarlett so determined and yes, so lovable, that I don't doubt for a minute that tomorrow, she will set up a plan to get her man back.

What is well-known is that Leigh fought tooth and nail to make Scarlett a complex character, and not just a stock vixen. She fought with the director Victor Fleming, she fought with Gable, and in the end, we can see the wisdom of her approach. There's always a hint of vulnerability lurking behind Scarlett's cold, scheming smirk or heartless words and actions. In order for the movie to work, one has to understand why decent people like Rhett and Melanie and Ashley love Scarlett, even if she's manipulative, selfish, greedy, and at times just flat out mean. The scene where she stares down everyone at Ashley's birthday party with the biggest bitchface known to man is priceless. Leigh makes us understand the love. I cannot imagine the film with any other actress.

Clark Gable is also just about perfect as the tough/tender Rhett. In the very first scene he's leering at Scarlett, and seems like the typical rascal. But he gradually becomes the most lovable character of the film -- funny, tough, smart, and someone who actually understands the meaning of being a friend. In fact, Rhett and Scarlett might be one of the first screen portrayals of a long-standing male-female friendship. Of course one party is madly in love with the other, but ... well, that's typical of friends too. I like the small moments which show that despite what Scarlett says, it's Rhett that is her real friend. When she has to flee Atlanta with Melanie and the baby, Rhett is the one who supplies the horse and buggy. There's a moment of real tenderness between them when Scarlett finally screams, "I WANT TO GO HOME!!!" I always love the moment when after Rhett comforts her they walk arm in arm. The chemistry between Leigh and Gable is extremely strong, even though offscreen the actors rarely interacted and Leigh said later that she found Gable lazy, stubborn, and "his dentures smelled something awful." When Rhett says "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," I actually feel Rhett's pain. After so many years of rejection, the parting between Scarlett and Rhett is inevitable, although in my heart, I don't think the estrangement is permanent.

Olivia de Havilland also gives a wonderful performance as Melanie Hamilton, the Southern lady made of fine steel. Her soft doe-eyes, her gentle manner,and mousier appearance make her a perfect foil for Scarlett. The only major miscast is Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes. Howard is way too old for the part, and although the Ashley in the book is a milquetoast, he's also a charming, dignified, lovable milquetoast. Howard drains all color from the character, and frankly is dull as dirt every time he's onscreen.

The supporting characters are all cast from strength. MGM in those days really had such a stable of excellent character actors, who gave the film vitality and humor. Of course one has to mention Hattie MacDaniel as Mammy, who gives this stereotypical role such strength and dignity that she almost single-handedly saves the film from seeming incredibly racist. Butterfly McQueen as Prissy provides some of the film's best comic relief, although I know many people find the stereotype of the ditzy "darky" as offensive. Laura Hope Crewes as the interminably silly Aunt Pittypat and Jane Darwell as the gossipy Mrs. Merriwether are also very funny. As Scarlett's sister SueEllen, Evelyn Keyes is properly prissy and sour. Alicia Rhett is another standout as the bitter India Wilkes, and Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O'Hara. Ona Wilkes manages to make the most cloying stereotypical character (the hooker with a heart of gold) endearing.



#11 miliosr

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 09:34 AM

I'm not sure that I'd call GWTW an antiwar novel in the sense that Mitchell set out to debunk war, but it's certainly a vivid depiction of the devastation war can bring.

I don't think her intent was to write an anti-war novel. (Or, at least, it wasn't her primary intent.) But she got there in the end.

The dated and/or repellent aspects of her depiction of slavery and the postwar status of the former slaves are obvious, but even within that frame there's more nuance than you'd think.

Agreed. The book is better in this regard, especially in the way Mitchell depicts the class elements among the slaves. (i.e. Not only do the house slaves consider themselves superior to the field slaves but they consider themselves superior to the "white trash" Slatterys who reside next to Tara.)

I love the movie, which improves on the novel in some ways (not in others).

Again -- agreed. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Scarlett goes looking for Dr. Meade during the Seige of Atlanta. The viewer sees her first in tight close-up (sidestepping wounded soldiers on the ground.) The camera slowly pulls back to show her walking through the Atlanta rail yards where thousands of soldiers lay wounded and dying. As the mournful music plays, the camera pulls back even further to reveal a tattered Confederate flag fluttering in the wind. This is an absolutely heartrending scene and conveys Mitchell's point about war in a way words never could.

#12 miliosr

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 09:41 AM

Olivia de Havilland also gives a wonderful performance as Melanie Hamilton, the Southern lady made of fine steel. Her soft doe-eyes, her gentle manner,and mousier appearance make her a perfect foil for Scarlett.

The supporting characters are all cast from strength. MGM in those days really had such a stable of excellent character actors, who gave the film vitality and humor. Of course one has to mention Hattie MacDaniel as Mammy, who gives this stereotypical role such strength and dignity that she almost single-handedly saves the film from seeming incredibly racist. Butterfly McQueen as Prissy provides some of the film's best comic relief, although I know many people find the stereotype of the ditzy "darky" as offensive. Laura Hope Crewes as the interminably silly Aunt Pittypat and Jane Darwell as the gossipy Mrs. Merriwether are also very funny. As Scarlett's sister SueEllen, Evelyn Keyes is properly prissy and sour. Alicia Rhett is another standout as the bitter India Wilkes, and Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O'Hara. Ona Wilkes manages to make the most cloying stereotypical character (the hooker with a heart of gold) endearing.

I also love Olivia de Havilland's performance as Melanie. In the wrong hands, Melanie could have been insufferable. But de Havilland really captures the essence of Melanie, especially her unconditional love for Scarlett.

Also agree about MGM casting from strength for the supporting roles, especially the female roles. (You could make a case that de Havilland and McDaniel should have been in the Best Actress Oscar category and the Best Supporting Actress Oscar category could have been filled with any of the supporting female players from Gone With the Wind.)

#13 dirac

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Posted 01 May 2011 - 11:20 AM

The only major miscast is Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes. Howard is way too old for the part, and although the Ashley in the book is a milquetoast, he's also a charming, dignified, lovable milquetoast. Howard drains all color from the character, and frankly is dull as dirt every time he's onscreen.


Howard isn't miscast; it was logical of Selznick to think of him. His type has fallen so utterly from fashion that it's easy to forget he was a major romantic star in his day, causing quite a few hearts to throb. He looks much older in GWTW's Technicolor than he does in Intermezzo opposite Ingrid Bergman around the same time, and just a year earlier he was a wonderful and very attractive Higgins in Pygmalion, so good Rex Harrison was reluctant to take the part later because he thought Howard's performance definitive. I'm sure the GWTW Blu-Ray does him no favors, either, nor any of the other actors who went through that stressful shoot.

I'd also say that Ashley is not a milquetoast. Mitchell notes that he can ride, shoot, and gamble as well as any of the other young men. He just doesn't care to. He is weak, but many men would look weak stuck between Scarlett and Melanie; there's that terrible scene in both versions where these two strong women descend on him at once to dissuade him from starting a new life in New York, and Ashley can't bring himself to lay down the law. I guess that's a wimp, but I'm not sure he'd be any more attractive if he went against his wife's will and dragged her North, unless you imagine yourself in a marriage where your husband orders you around and takes no account of your wishes.

As for lovable Rhett - bear in mind he tries on two occasions to lure Scarlett into a life of sin -- once by proposition, once by seduction. He tries to ruin her, in other words, before he gets to a proposal. As he tells her in the book, he's a bad influence. He may love her, but he's a dangerous guy.


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