It’s time for another film to see before you die, and The Daily Shift‘s Katy Quinn explores the Civil War classic, Gone With The Wind…
It was with great reluctance that I got my boyfriend to sit down with me and watch Gone With The Wind the other night.
I’m not sure what I expected, perhaps for him to turn to me halfway through and thank me for bringing this wonderful film into his life. No such luck, instead I had to listen to how the film was far too long and so ended up fast forwarding the last hour and giving him the gist.
Before you write off this film completely I should point out that this is not the reaction everyone has for Gone With The Wind. It would not be considered a classic if this were the universal opinion.
Firstly, what gives this film its legendary status, aside from the fact that it is based on Margaret Mitchell’s enthralling novel, is the cast led by the beautiful Vivien Leigh as the vivacious Scarlett O’Hara and the charmingly handsome Clark Gable as Rhett Butler.
Famously, it was Katharine Hepburn who first read the script and went to the original director of the film, George Cukor, declaring “I am Scarlett O’Hara”. She could well have been right, based on various accounts of the headstrong star.
Instead, Cukor chose to go with the unknown Vivien Leigh, who proved herself to be the perfect leading lady even though she was met with harsh criticism when first cast.
The film is set on the backdrop of the American Civil War and the beautiful southern counties that do not wish for the abolition of slavery. Relying on cotton farms to make money, the rich gentry need black slaves to work their farms; Abraham Lincoln has other ideas of course. Therefore the film documents a society that is Gone with the Wind, pretty smart title, no?
We follow Scarlett, a young debutante insistent on making every man in Georgia fall in love with her. But the man she really wants, Ashley Wilkes, is (disgustingly for us) engaged to his first cousin Melanie, who in turn is desperate to be Scarlett’s friend.
The war changes everything for them, they lose family members, their once grand estate, the aptly named “Tara” (I’m assuming you guessed by her name that she has Irish roots) is reduced to a rundown house with no possessions to speak of.
Scarlett moves from a spoiled, deceitful young girl to a woman determined to get her own way with everything she does so that she can restore Tara to its former glory. She has three marriages, you heard right three, the first to make Ashley jealous, the second for money and the third just because she can; this is of course the most exciting one because it is to Rhett Butler.
Unfortunately, this is the one we most wish to succeed but, for those of you who are fans of Hollywood lore, it ends instead with “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. A line that still sends shivers up my spine but that could also be because nobody could help but fall in love with Clark Gable.
The ending is actually designed to inspire hope; I’ll leave it to you to find out why.
The production of one of the greatest Hollywood movies of all time was fraught with problems. The director who worked on the project for two years, George Cukor, was replaced by Victor Fleming (who filmed The Wizard of Oz) and this was not met with pleasure from Vivien Leigh and some of the cast but proved to perhaps be a good choice.
The film went on to win ten academy awards including Best Supporting Actress for Hattie McDaniel, the first black woman to ever win an Academy Award. Famously, the film premiered in Atlanta where the Jim Crow laws were still in place- meaning that the black actors would not be allowed to attend. Clark Gable threatened to boycott the premiere having become close friends with Hattie McDaniel, she convinced him to go anyway. Don’t you just love him for this alone?
Gone With The Wind has been ranked fourth in the 100 greatest films of all time making it a must see. For the girls it’s a wonderful, unconventional romance and for the guys, well there are plenty of beautiful women to stare at but as I mentioned it really isn’t for everyone.
*Lead image via Wikimedia Commons