Gone with the Wind (movie)

1939 film by Victor Fleming

Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American movie based on Margaret Mitchell's book of the same name. It premiered in Atlanta, Georgia. It stars Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland. The movie tells the story of the American Civil War as it was seen by a young southern woman named Scarlett O'Hara. The movie was very popular at the time. Considering inflation, it is the highest-grossing movie yet made. The movie has been criticized for inaccurately showing slavery and the South. The movie changed how African Americans appeared on the screen. Gone with the Wind is considered one of the greatest movies of all time.

Gone with the Wind
An early Gone with the Wind poster
Directed byVictor Fleming
George Cukor (uncredited)
Sam Wood (uncredited)
Written byMargaret Mitchell (novel),
Sidney Howard (adapted screenplay),
Ben Hecht (uncredited),
David O. Selznick (uncredited),
Jo Swerling (uncredited),
and John Van Druten (uncredited)
Produced byDavid O. Selznick
StarringVivien Leigh
Clark Gable
Leslie Howard
Olivia de Havilland
Hattie McDaniel
CinematographyErnest Haller
Lee Garmes (uncredited)
Music byMax Steiner
Distributed byLoew's Incorporated
Release date
December 15, 1939
Running time
222 minutes
Budget$3,900,000 (estimated)

Plot change

It is the year 1861 just before the American Civil War. Scarlett O'Hara lives with her parents, two sisters, and slaves at a plantation in Georgia. The plantation is called Tara. Scarlett is in love with Ashley Wilkes, but he will be marrying Melanie Hamilton. At a party at Ashley's plantation, Twelve Oaks, one guest Rhett Butler admires Scarlett. Scarlett is more interested in Ashley. News of the start of the Civil War interrupts the party. Men go racing about to enlist in the war. Scarlett marries Melanie's younger brother Charles. She does this to make Ashley jealous. Charles dies in the war, and Scarlett goes to Atlanta. There she appears at a charity bazaar in black mourning clothing and dances with Rhett.

The Confederates lose at the Battle of Gettysburg. Union troops start entering the city of Atlanta. At the same time, Scarlett helps Melanie give birth to a child. They and Rhett flee the city. Rhett returns to the fighting. Scarlett, Melanie and Prissy return to Tara. The place is a wasteland. The slaves, Mammy and Pork, her father, and two sisters are there. Scarlett promises to make sure her family survives.

Scarlett and her sisters work in the field. Their father dies trying to chase away a carpetbagger. The Confederates lose the war and Ashley returns. Scarlett wants to run away with him. He kisses her, but he says he cannot leave Melanie. Scarlett tricks Suellen's fiancé into marrying her to pay the high Reconstructionist taxes. One night, Scarlett is on the road and attacked. Frank, Ashley, Rhett, and others raid the town of the attack, and Frank dies. Later Scarlett accepts a marriage proposal of Rhett.

Rhett and Scarlett have a daughter called Bonnie Blue. Scarlett still likes Ashley and does not want any more children. Ashley's sister one day sees Scarlett and Ashley embracing and spreads rumors. Rhett hears about it and forces Scarlett to attend Ashley's birthday party. Melanie stands by her. When Scarlett returns home, Rhett is drunk and forces her to have sex.

Rhett apologizes the next day. He says she can divorce, but she refuses. Rhett goes to London. When he returns, she says she is pregnant again. They argue, and Scarlett falls down the stairs and has a miscarriage. Later Bonnie dies trying to jump a fence with her pony. Melanie is very sick from her new pregnancy. Scarlett comforts Ashley and realizes that she loves Rhett. Scarlett pleads with Rhett, but he leaves her. She promises to win him back again.

Cast change

Production change

Casting change

Publicity Photo for Gone With the Wind.

Selznick wanted Clark Gable to star as Rhett Butler.[1] Selznich had to make a deal with MGM to get Gable. Selznick would have to pay Gable's salary directly. It took a long time to find the right actress for Scarlett. Many other famous actresses were considered. Katharine Hepburn wanted to have the role, but was rejected. The following actresses were screen-tested: Ardis Ankerson, Jean Arthur, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Barrymore, Joan Bennett, Nancy Coleman, Frances Dee, Ellen Drew (as Terry Ray), Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward, Vivien Leigh, Anita Louise, Haila Stoddard, Margaret Tallichet, Lana Turner and Linda Watkins.[2]

Selznick worked with Susan Myrick to get the Southern accents correct.[3]

Screenplay change

Selznick wanted Victor Fleming, who directed The Wizard of Oz to be director. Fleming did not like the script. Screenwriter Sidney Howard and Selznick revised the script a couple times. Others participated in the writing, but it is unclear how much each wrote.

Filming change

Selznick had Director George Cukor removed after three weeks. Several people and some of the actors did not like it.[4] Victor Fleming would end up directing the movie.

Most of the movie was shot at "the back forty". This was a movie studio backlot. At the time, it was owned by Selznick International. Other locations were in Los Angeles County and neighboring Ventura County.[5] For the house Tara and the burning of Atlanta, facades were used. The movie was expensive to make. Some estimate it was $3.85 million.[6]

Music change

The score has several love themes. The music includes folk and patriotic songs such as "Louisiana Belle", "Dolly Day", "Ringo De Banjo", "Beautiful Dreamer", "Old Folks at Home", and "Katie Belle","Marching through Georgia" by Henry Clay Work, "Dixie", "Garryowen", and "The Bonnie Blue Flag". The most famous theme is Tara's Theme.[7]  

Release change

The movie was first released at Fox Theatre in 1939. There was a standing ovation.[8] When it was released in Atlanta, there were 300,000 visitors. There were several festivities including a parade. There were three days of parties in which the stars of the movie wore costumes. Many stores in the city were decorated to look like they would have in the Civil War. Victor Fleming and Selznick were no longer close, so Fleming did not attend. Black actors like Hattie McDaniel were not allowed because of Jim Crow laws.[9] The movie would be re-released several times for anniversaries of the Civil War and the movie.[10]

Reception change

Critical Response change

The movie had good reviews from critics.[8] Critics considered the movie to be an ambitious and a technical achievement. Critics liked the first half better. Some critics were critical of the movie. They thought it was too long. Others said the movie was forgettable and not memorable.[11][12] Some said the movie is a major event in history, but a minor one in movies.[13] The movie has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[14] The movie got several awards.

Awards change

Gone with the Wind received 10 Academy Awards in 1940.

  • Best Picture - Selznick International Pictures (David O. Selznick, producer)
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role - Vivien Leigh
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Hattie McDaniel
  • Best Cinematography, Color - Ernest Haller, and Ray Rennahan
  • Best Director - Victor Fleming
  • Best movie Editing - Hal C. Kern, and James E. Newcom
  • Best Writing, Screenplay - Sidney Howard
  • Best Art Direction - Lyle Wheeler
  • Honorary Award - William Cameron Menzies - for "the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood"
  • Technical Achievement Award - Don Musgrave

It was nominated for five more.

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role - Clark Gable
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Olivia de Havilland
  • Best Effects, Special Effects - Fred Albin (sound), Jack Cosgrove (photographic), and Arthur Johns (sound)
  • Best Music, Original Score - Max Steiner
  • Best Sound, Recording - Thomas T. Moulton (Samuel Goldwyn SSD)

Response from African-Americans change

Black commentators criticized the portrayal of African Americans in the movie. Some said the movie created African-American stereotypes. The movie was compared with The Birth of a Nation. Commentators said The Birth of a Nation was more of a direct attack on black people and obvious lies. Gone with the Wind, however, was a more subtle attack and lie. In the African-American community, there were different views. Some believed the movie to be insulting. Others thought that the performances of the African-American actors showed progress and achievements of African-Americans.[15][16]

Audience Response change

A record number of people watched Gone with the Wind. After four years of its release, sixty million tickets were sold. This was about half of the U.S. population at the time.[17] The movie was also popular in Europe and Japan. The movie was still popular decades later with its re-release. Only The Sound of Music, The Graduate, Doctor Zhivago and The Godfather would eventually make more than the re-releases of Gone with the Wind.[18] Over 200 million tickets have been sold in America and Canada.[17] It is the most successful movie to be made. The movie made the most money of all time, after taking inflation into account. Gone with the Wind is still popular in the 21st century.[19]

Re-evaluation change

Although Gone with the Wind premiered in 1939, it is still remembered today as one of the greatest American movies of all time. Upon reevaluation, some critics say the script is poorly written. The movie was named the #4 best movie of all time by the American movie Institute. The quote "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," said by Rhett Butler at the end of the movie was voted the #1 greatest movie quote of all time. The movie has made the following American Film Institute lists:

Controversy change

The movie has been criticized for ignoring slavery and depicting the Confederacy in a positive way.[20] The movie is a form of historical negationism or denialism. This is when the historical facts are not represented accurately. The movie glorifies the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. This false Lost Cause claims the South had heroic and just reasons for the war and that slavery was not the main issue. There are black stereotypes in the movie. The movie shows happy enslaved people. Rhett Butler and his men are part of the Ku Klux Klan in the book, but this is not in the movie.[21] For some time, the movie was removed from theaters and HBO Max.[22] This caused debates on political correctness. Since the George Floyd protests, criticism has increased. In response, the streaming service HBO Max has added a discussion of the movie's themes before the beginning of the movie. The site claims that one should not erase the movie but understand and learn from it.[23]

Financial Success change

It made 394 million dollars when it came out. After inflation Guinness World Records says makes it the most successful movie that anyone has ever made.

References change

  1. Friedrich, Otto (1986). City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s. Berkeley / Los Angeles: University of California Press. pp. 17–21. ISBN 978-0-520-20949-7.
  2. "The Search for Scarlett: Girls Tested for the Role of Scarlett". Gone with the Wind Online Exhibit. University of Texas at Austin: Harry Ransom Center. Archived from the original on January 5, 2014.
  3. Cella, Claire. "Fan Mail: Producing Gone With the Wind". Harry Ransom Center. Archived from the original on August 1, 2020. Retrieved June 22,2020.
  4. "Gone with the Wind (1939) – Notes". TCM database. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  5. Molt, Cynthia Marylee (1990). Gone with the wind on film : a complete reference. Internet Archive. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co. ISBN 978-0-89950-439-1.
  6. "Cinema: G With the W". Time. 1939-12-25. ISSN 0040-781X. Retrieved 2022-06-29.
  7. MacDonald, Laurence E. (1998). The Invisible Art of Film Music: A Comprehensive History. Scarecrow Press. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-1-880157-56-5.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Gone with the Wind (1939) – Notes". TCM database. Turner Classic Movies. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016. Retrieved June 16,2022.
  9. Harris, Warren G. (2002). Clark Gable: A Biography. Harmony Books. p. 211.
  10. Brown, Ellen F.; Wiley, John, Jr. (2011). Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood. Taylor Trade Publications. pp. 287, 293 & 322
  11. "Time, alas, has treated GWTW cruelly - 73.03". www.theatlantic.com. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  12. "Glossy, Sentimental, Chuckle-headed - 73.03". www.theatlantic.com. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  13. Hoellering, Franz (2008-12-16). "Gone With the Wind". The Nation. ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  14. Gone With the Wind, retrieved 2022-06-29
  15. "What to Know Next Time You Watch 'Gone With the Wind'". Time. Retrieved 2022-06-29.
  16. Haskell, Molly (2010). Frankly, My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited. Icons of America. Yale University Press. pp. 213–214
  17. 17.0 17.1 February 05, John Young Updated; EST, 2010 at 05:00 AM. "'Avatar' vs. 'Gone With the Wind'". EW.com. Retrieved 2022-06-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  18. Finler, Joel Waldo (2003). The Hollywood Story. Wallflower Press. pp. 47, 356–363. ISBN 978-1-903364-66-6.
  19. Shannon-Missal, Larry (December 17, 2014). "Gone but Not Forgotten: Gone with the Wind is Still America's Favorite Movie" (Press release). Harris Interactive. Archived from the original on December 28, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2022.
  20. Vera, Hernán; Gordon, Andrew Mark (2003). Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness. Rowman & Littlefield. p. viii & 102. ISBN 978-0-8476-9947-6.
  21. Ruiz, W. Bryan Rommel (2010). American History Goes to the Movies: Hollywood and the American Experience. Taylor & Francis. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-203-83373-5.
  22. Moreau, Jordan; Moreau, Jordan (2020-06-10). "HBO Max Temporarily Removes 'Gone With the Wind' From Library". Variety. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  23. Tapp, Tom; Tapp, Tom (2020-06-10). "HBO Max Removes 'Gone With the Wind' From Streaming Platform, Says Film Will Return With "Discussion Of Its Historical Context"". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-06-30.

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