- Gone with the Wind (film)
name = Gone With The Wind
image_size = 215px
caption = original release poster
George Cukor Sam Wood
David O. Selznick
writer = Screenplay:
Ben Hecht Jo Swerling John Van Druten Oliver H. P. Garrett
Vivien Leigh Clark Gable
Olivia de Havilland
distributor = Selznick International
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer"(1939)" New Line Cinema"(1998)" Warner Bros."(video)"
15 December1939 "(premiere)" 17 January1941
runtime = Original cut:
Restored DVD cut:
country = FilmUS
language = English
budget = $3,900,000
gross = $400,176,459
followed_by = "Scarlett"
website = http://www.franklymydear.com/
imdb_id = 0031381
"Gone with the Wind" is a 1939 American dramatic-romantic-
war filmadapted from Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel of the same name and directed by Victor Fleming. The epic film, set in the American South in and around the time of the Civil War, stars Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland, and tells a story of the Civil War and its aftermath from a white Southern viewpoint.
It received ten
Academy Awards, a record that stood for twenty years. [ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031381/awards "List of Oscars won in 1940"] . "Ben-Hur" surpassed it in 1960. IMDb, [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052618/awards Awards for "Ben-Hur"] .] In the American Film Institute's inaugural Top 100 American Films of All Time list of 1998, it was ranked number four, although in the 2007 10th Anniversary edition of that list, it was dropped two places, to number six. In June 2008, AFI revealed its "10 top 10" — the best ten films in ten American film genres—after polling over 1,500 persons from the creative community. "Gone with the Wind" was acknowledged as the fourth best film in the Epic genre. [cite news | author = American Film Institute| title = AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres | work = ComingSoon.net | date = 2008-06-17 | url = http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=46072 | accessdate= 2008-06-18] [cite web | title= Top 10 Epic | url = http://www.afi.com/10top10/epic.html | publisher= American Film Institute|accessdate= 2008-06-18] It has sold more tickets in the U.S. than any other film in history, and is considered a prototype of a Hollywood blockbuster. Today, it is considered one of the greatest and most popular films of all time and one of the most enduring symbols of the golden age of Hollywood.
The film opens on a large cotton
plantationcalled Tara in rural Georgia in 1861, on the eve of the beginning of the American Civil Warwhere Scarlett O'Hara( Vivien Leigh) is flirting with the two Tarleton twins Brent and Stuart. Scarlett, Suellen, and Careen are the three daughters of Irish immigrant Gerald O’Hara (Thomas Mitchell) and his wife, Ellen O'Hara ( Barbara O'Neil). The twins share a secret with Scarlett that one of her county beaux, whom she secretly loves, Ashley Wilkes(Leslie Howard) is to marry his cousin Melanie Hamilton( Olivia de Havilland) and the engagement is to be announced the next day at a barbecue at Ashley's home, the nearby plantation Twelve Oaks.
Twelve Oaks, she notices she is being admired by a handsome but roguish visitor, Rhett Butler( Clark Gable), who had been disowned by his Charleston family. Rhett finds himself in further disfavor among the male guests when, during a discussion of the probability of war, he states that the South has no chance against the superior numbers and industrial might of the North.
When Scarlett sneaks out of her afternoon nap to be alone with Ashley in the library, she confesses her love for him. He admits he finds Scarlett attractive, and that he has always secretly loved her back, but says that he and the sweet Melanie are more alike. She accuses Ashley of misleading her to think that he did love her and slaps him in anger. Ashley silently exits and her anger continues when she realizes that Rhett was taking an afternoon nap on the couch in the library, and has overheard the whole conversation. "Sir, you are no gentleman!" she protests, to which he replies, "And you, miss, are no lady!" Before the conversation is over Rhett promises that her guilty secret is safe with him.
Scarlett leaves the library in haste and the barbecue is disrupted by the announcement that war has broken out, so the men rush to enlist, and all the ladies are awakened from their naps. As Scarlett watches Ashley kiss Melanie goodbye from the upstairs window, Melanie’s shy young brother Charles Hamilton, with whom Scarlett had been innocently flirting, asks for her hand in marriage before he goes. She consents, they are married, and she is quickly widowed just months after the wedding when Charles dies not in battle, but of pneumonia and the measles.
Scarlett's mother sends her to the Hamilton home in Atlanta to cheer her up, although the O’Hara's outspoken housemaid Mammy tells Scarlett she knows she is going there only to wait for Ashley’s return. Scarlett and Melanie attend a charity bazaar in Atlanta; Scarlett, who should be buried in deep mourning, is turned against and whispered about. Rhett, now a heroic
blockade runnerfor the Confederacy, makes a surprise appearance. Scarlett shocks Atlanta society even more by accepting Rhett's large bid for a dance. While they dance, Rhett tells her of his intention to win her, which she says will never happen, as long as she lives.
The tide of war turns against the Confederacy after the
Battle of Gettysburgand many county friends and beaux of Scarlett were killed. Scarlett makes another unsuccessful appeal to Ashley’s heart while he is visiting on Christmas furlough, although they do share a private and passionate kiss while in the parlor on Christmas day, just before he leaves for the war.
Eight months later, as the city is besieged by the
Union Armyin the Atlanta Campaign, Melanie goes into a premature and difficult labor. Scarlett must deliver the child by herself with the help of a house servant Prissy. Scarlett calls upon Rhett to bring her home to Tara immediately with Melanie, Prissy, and the baby. He appears with a horse and wagon to take them out of the city on a perilous journey through the burning depot and warehouse district. He leaves her with a nearly dead horse, helplessly sick Melanie, her baby, and tearful Prissy, and with a passionate kiss on the road leading to Tara. She repays him rudely with a slap, to his bemusement, as he goes off to fight with the Confederate Army.
On her journey back home, Scarlett finds Twelve Oaks burned out, deserted and ruined. She is relieved to find Tara still standing, but learns that her mother has just died of
typhoid feverand her father's mind has begun to crumble under the strain. With Tara pillaged by Union troops, and the fields untended, Scarlett vows she will do anything for the survival of her family and herself: “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”
Scarlett sets her family and servants to picking the cotton fields. She also kills a Union deserter who threatens her during a burglary, and finds gold coins in his haversack, enough to sustain her family and servants for a short time. With the defeat of the Confederacy and war's end, Ashley returns from being a prisoner of war. Mammy restrains Scarlett from running to him when he reunites with Melanie. The dispirited Ashley finds he is of little help to Tara, and when Scarlett begs him to run away with her, he confesses his desire for her and kisses her passionately, but says he cannot leave Melanie.
Gerald O'Hara dies after he is thrown from his horse in an attempt to chase from his property a Yankee
carpetbagger, the former overseer of his plantation who now wants to buy Tara. Scarlett is left to support the family, and realizes she cannot pay the rising taxes on Tara. Knowing that Rhett is in Atlanta and believing he is still rich, she has Mammy make an elaborate gown for her from her mother’s drapes still hanging in the parlor. However, upon her visit, Rhett tells her his foreign bank accounts have been blocked, and that her attempt to get his money has been in vain. However, as she departs, she encounters her sister’s fiancé, the middle-aged Frank Kennedy, who now owns a successful general storeand lumber mill.
Scarlett lies saying Suellen is tired of waiting and married another beau. After becoming Mrs. Frank Kennedy, Scarlett takes over his business too and with the profits, buys a sawmill which coins money during the rebuilding of Atlanta -- in part because she is willing to trade with the despised Yankee carpetbaggers and use convict laborers in her mill. When Ashley is about to take a job offer with a bank in the north, Scarlett preys on his weakness by weeping that she needs him to help run the mill; pressured by the sympathetic Melanie, he relents. One day, after Scarlett is attacked while driving alone through a nearby
shantytown, Frank, Ashley, and others make a night raid on the shantytown. Ashley is wounded in a melee with Union troops, and Frank is killed.
With Frank’s funeral barely over, Rhett visits Scarlett, who has been drinking, and proposes marriage. Scarlett is aghast at his poor taste, but takes him up on his offer, partially for his money. He kisses her passionately and tells her that he will win her love one day because they are both the same. After a honeymoon in New Orleans, Rhett promises to restore Tara to its former grandeur, while Scarlett builds the biggest and most crassly opulent mansion in Atlanta. The two have a daughter, Bonnie Blue Butler. Rhett adores her as a symbol of the spirited but not grasping girl Scarlett was before the war. He does everything to win the good opinion of Atlanta society for his daughter’s sake. Scarlett, still pining for Ashley and chagrined at the perceived ruin of her figure (her waist has gone from eighteen inches to twenty), lets Rhett know that she wants no more children and that they will no longer share a bed. In anger, he kicks open the door that separates their bedrooms to show her that he will decide that.
When visiting the mill one day, Scarlett listens to a nostalgic Ashley wish for the simpler days of old that are now gone, and when she consoles him with an embrace, they are spied by two gossips including Ashley's sister India, who has always held a grudge against Scarlett. They eagerly spread the rumor and Scarlett’s reputation is again sullied. Later that night, Rhett, having heard the rumors, forces Scarlett out of bed and to attend a birthday party for Ashley in her most flamboyant dress alone. Incapable of believing anything bad of her beloved sister-in-law, Melanie stands by Scarlett's side so that all know that she believes the gossip to be false.
At home later that night, while trying to sneak a drink for herself, Scarlett finds Rhett downstairs drunk. Blind with jealousy, he tells Scarlett that he could kill her if he thought it would make her forget Ashley. Picking her up, he carries her up the stairs in his arms, telling her, "This is one night you're not turning me out." She awakens the next morning with a look of guilty pleasure, but Rhett returns to apologize for his behavior and offers a divorce, which Scarlett rejects saying it would be a disgrace. Rhett decides to take Bonnie on an extended trip to London.
Rhett returns with Bonnie, and Scarlett is delighted to see him but he rebuffs her attempts at reconciliation. He remarks at how she looks different and she tells him that she is pregnant again. Rhett asks who the father is and Scarlett tells him he knows the baby is his and that she doesn't even want it. Hurt, Rhett tells her "Cheer up. Maybe you'll have an accident." Enraged, Scarlett lunges at him, falls down the stairs and suffers a miscarriage. Rhett, frantic with guilt, cries to Melanie about his jealousy, yet refrains from telling Melanie about Scarlett's true feelings for Ashley.
As Scarlett is recovering, little Bonnie, as impulsive as her grandfather, dies in a fall while attempting to jump a fence with her pony. Scarlett blames Rhett, and Rhett blames himself. Melanie visits the home to comfort them, and convinces Rhett to allow Bonnie to be laid to rest, but then collapses in labor from a second pregnancy she was warned could kill her. On her deathbed, she asks Scarlett to look after Ashley for her, as Scarlett had looked after her for Ashley. With her dying breath, Melanie also tells Scarlett to be kind to Rhett, that he loves her. Outside, Ashley collapses in tears, helpless without his wife. Only then does Scarlett realize that she never could have meant anything to him, and that she had loved something that never really existed.
She runs home to find Rhett packing to leave her, she begs him not to leave, telling him she realizes now that she had loved him all along, that she never really loved Ashley.
As Rhett walks out the door, she pleads, "Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?" He answers, cquote|
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.and walks away into the fog. She sits on her stairs and weeps in despair, "What is there that matters? Tara! Home. I'll go home, and I'll think of some way to get him back! After all, tomorrow is another day!" In the finale, Scarlett stands once more, resolute, before Tara.
Of original screenplay writer
Sidney Howard, film historian Joanne Yeck writes, "reducing the intricacies of "Gone with the Wind"'s epic dimensions was a herculean task...and Howard's first submission was far too long, and would have required at least six hours of film; ... [producer] Selznick wanted Howard to remain on the set to make revisions...but Howard refused to leave New England [and] as a result, revisions were handled by a host of local writers, including Ben Hecht..."Yeck, Joanne, "Dictionary of Literary Biography - American Screenwriters" (1984) Gale Reaearch]
David O. Selznickreplaced the film's director three weeks into filming and then had the script rewritten. He sought out director Victor Fleming, who, at the time, was directing "The Wizard of Oz". Fleming was dissatisfied with the script, so Selznick brought in famed writer Ben Hecht to rewrite the entire screenplay within five days." [Keelor, Josette, "Northern Virginia Daily.com", [http://www.nvdaily.com/lifestyle/292279470722734.bsp] "Behind the Scenes", August 1, 2008] [Hutchinson, Ron (2004). "Moonlight and Magnolias", [http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/stage/theatre/article2575265.ece Moonlight and Magnolias] ", " The Times", 10-03- 2007.]
By the time of the film's release in 1939, there was some question as to who should receive screen credit," writes Yeck. "But despite the number of writers and changes, the final script was remarkably close to Howard's version. The fact that Howard's name alone appears on the credits may have been as much a gesture to his memory as to his writing, for in 1939 Sidney Howard died tragically at age forty-eight in a farm-tractor accident, and before the movie's premiere."
David O. Selznick, in a memo written in October 1939, discussed the movie's writing credits: :" [Y] ou can say frankly that of the comparatively small amount of material in the picture which is not from the book, most is my own personally, and the only original lines of dialog which are not my own are a few from Sidney Howard and a few from Ben Hecht and a couple more from John Van Druten. Offhand I doubt that there are ten original words of [Oliver] Garrett's in the whole script. As to construction, this is about eighty per cent my own, and the rest divided between Jo Swerling and Sidney Howard, with Hecht having contributed materially to the construction of one sequence."
According to Hecht biographer, William MacAdams, "At dawn on Sunday, February 20th, 1939, David Selznick ... and director Victor Fleming shook Hecht awake to inform him he was on loan from MGM and must come with them immediately and go to work on "Gone with the Wind", which Selznick had begun shooting five weeks before. It was costing Selznick $50,000 each day the film was on hold waiting for a final screenplay rewrite and time was of the essence.rp|199
Hecht was in the middle of working on the film "
Day at the Circus" for the Marx brothers. "MacAdams, William, "Ben Hecht - a Biography", (1990) Barricade Books, N.Y.] rp|199 Recalling the episode in a letter to screenwriter friend Gene Fowler, he said he hadn't read the novel but Selznick and director Fleming could not wait for him to read it. They would act out scenes based on Sidney Howard's original script which needed to be rewritten in a hurry. Hecht wrote, "After each scene had been performed and discussed, I sat down at the typewriter and wrote it out. Selznick and Fleming, eager to continue with their acting, kept hurrying me. We worked in this fashion for seven days, putting in eighteen to twenty hours a day. Selznick refused to let us each lunch, arguing that food would slow us up. He provided bananas and salted peanuts....thus on the seventh day I had completed, unscathed, the first nine reels of the Civil War epic."rp|200 MacAdams writes, "It is impossible to determine exactly how much Hecht scripted...In the official credits filed with the Screen Writers' Guild, Sidney Howard was of course awarded the sole screen credit, but four other writers were appended ... Jo Swerling for contributing to the treatment, Oliver H. P. Garrett and Barbara Keon to screenplay construction, and Hecht, to dialogue, so it would appear Hecht's influence was not insubstantial."rp|201
David O. Selznick, head of Selznick International Pictures, decided that he wanted to create a film based on the novel after his story editor Kay Brown read a pre-publication copy in May 1936 and urged him to buy the film rights. A month after the book's publication in June 1936, Selznick bought the rights for $50,000, a record amount at the time. Major financing for the film was provided by Selznick business partner John Hay Whitney, a financier who later went on to become a U.S. ambassador.
The casting of the two lead roles became a complex, two-year endeavor. Many famous or soon-to-be-famous actresses were either screen-tested, auditioned, or considered for the role of Scarlett, including
Jean Arthur, Lucille Ball, Tallulah Bankhead, Joan Bennett, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Frances Dee, Olivia de Havilland, Irene Dunne, Joan Fontaine, Greer Garson, Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward, Katharine Hepburn, Miriam Hopkins, Carole Lombard, Ida Lupino, Merle Oberon, Norma Shearer, Barbara Stanwyck, Margaret Sullavan, Lana Turnerand Loretta Young.
Four actresses, including
Jean Arthurand Joan Bennett, were still under consideration by December 1938. But only two finalists, Paulette Goddardand Vivien Leigh, were tested in Technicolor, both on December 20. [cite book
first = Ronald
last = Haver
title = David O. Selznick's Hollywood
location = New York
publisher = Knopf
year = 1980
id = ISBN 0-394-42595-2 ] Selznick had been quietly considering Vivien Leigh, a young English actress little known in America, for the role of Scarlett since February 1938, when Selznick saw her in "
Fire Over England" and " A Yank at Oxford". Leigh's American agent was the London representative of the Myron Selznicktalent agency (headed by David Selznick's brother, one of the owners of Selznick International), and she had requested in February that her name be submitted for consideration as Scarlett. By summer of 1938, the Selznicks were negotiating with Alexander Korda, to whom Leigh was under contract, for her services later that year. [cite book
first = William
last = Pratt
title = Scarlett Fever
location = New York
publisher = Macmillan Publishing Co.
year = 1977
pages = 73-74, 81-83
id = ISBN 0-02-598560-4 In a memo to George Cukor on
October 21, 1938, Selznick said he was "still hoping against hope for that new girl." "Memo", p. 184] But for publicity reasons David arranged to meet her for the first time on the night of December 10, 1938, when the burning of the Atlanta Depot was filmed. The story was invented for the press that Leigh and Laurence Olivier were just visiting the studio as guests of Myron Selznick, who was also Olivier's agent, and that Leigh was in Hollywood hoping for a part in Olivier's current movie, "Wuthering Heights". In a letter to his wife two days later, Selznick admitted that Leigh was "the Scarlett dark horse", and after a series of screen tests, her casting was announced on January 13, 1939. Just before the shooting of the film, Selznick informed Ed Sullivan: "Scarlett O'Hara's parents were French and Irish. Identically, Miss Leigh's parents are French and Irish." [ [http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/online/gwtw/scarlett/sullivan.html Letter from David O. Selznick to Ed Sullivan] , Jan. 7, 1939. ]
For the role of Rhett Butler,
Clark Gablewas an almost immediate favorite for both the public and Selznick. Nevertheless, as Selznick had no male stars under long-term contract, he needed to go through the process of negotiating to borrow an actor from another studio. Gary Cooperwas thus Selznick's first choice, because Cooper's contract with Samuel Goldwyninvolved a common distribution company, United Artists, with which Selznick had an eight-picture deal. However, Goldwyn remained noncommittal in negotiations. [cite book
first = David O.
last = Selznick
title = Memo from David O. Selznick
location = New York
publisher = Modern Library
year = 2000
pages = 172-173
id = ISBN 0-375-75531-4 ] Warner Bros. offered a package of
Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havillandfor the lead roles in return for the distribution rights. But by then Selznick was determined to get Clark Gable, and eventually found a way to borrow him from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Selznick's father-in-law, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer, offered in May 1938 to fund half of the movie's budget in return for a powerful package: 50% of the profits would go to MGM, the movie's distribution would be credited to MGM's parent company, Loew's, Inc., and Loew's would receive 15 percent of the movie's gross income. Selznick accepted this offer in August, and Gable was cast. Nevertheless, the arrangement to release through MGM meant delaying the start of production until Selznick International completed its eight-picture contract with United Artists.
Principal photography began
January 26, 1939, and ended on June 27, 1939, with post-production work (including a fifth version of the opening scene) going to November 11, 1939. Director George Cukor, with whom Selznick had a long working relationship, and who had spent almost two years in preproduction on "Gone with the Wind", was replaced after less than three weeks of shooting. Olivia de Havilland said that she learned of George Cukor's firing from Vivien Leigh on the day the Atlanta bazaar scene was filmed. The pair went to Selznick's office in full costume and begged him to change his mind. Selznick apologized, but refused. Victor Fleming, who was directing "The Wizard of Oz", was called in from MGM to complete the picture, although Cukor continued privately to coach Leigh and De Havilland. Another MGM director, Sam Wood, worked for two weeks in May when Fleming temporarily left the production due to exhaustion. [cite book
first = Susan
last = Myrick
title = White Columns in Hollywood: Reports from the GWTW Sets
location = Macon, Georgia
publisher = Mercer University Press
year = 1982
pages = 126-127
id = ISBN 0-86554-044-6 ]
Lee Garmesbegan the production, but after a month of shooting what Selznick and his associates thought was "too dark" footage, was replaced with Ernest Haller, working with Technicolor cinematographer Ray Rennahan. Most of the filming was done on "the back forty" of Selznick International with all the location scenes being photographed in California, mostly in Los Angeles County or neighboring Ventura County. [cite book
first = Cynthia Marylee
last = Molt
title = Gone with the Wind on Film: A Complete Reference
location = Jefferson, NC
publisher = McFarland & Company
year = 1990
pages = 272-281
id = ISBN 0-89950-439-6 ] Estimated production costs were $3.9 million; [" [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,762137,00.html G With the W] ", "Time", vol. 34,
December 25 1939. " [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,763541,00.html Record Wind] ", "Time", February 19, 1940, specified $3,850,000.] only "Ben-Hur" (1925) and "Hell's Angels" (1930) had cost more. [cite book
first = Patrick
last = Robertson
title = Film Facts
location = New York
publisher = Billboard Books
year = 2001
pages = 33
id = ISBN 0-8230-7943-0 ]
Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined Selznick $5,000 for using the word "damn" in Butler's exit line, in fact the Motion Picture Association board passed an amendment to the
Production Codeon November 1, 1939, that forbade use of the words "hell" or "damn" except when their use "shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste." With that amendment, the Production Code Administration had no further objection to Rhett's closing line. [Leonard J. Leff and Jerold L. Simmons, "The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code", pp. 107-108.]
First public preview
When David O. Selznick was asked by the press in early September how he felt about the film, he said: "At noon I think it's divine, at midnight I think it's lousy. Sometimes I think it's the greatest picture ever made. But if it's only a great picture, I'll still be satisfied." ["G With the W", "Time", vol. 34,
December 25, 1939.]
September 9, 1939, Selznick, his wife Irene Mayer Selznick, investor Jock Whitney, and film editor Hal Kern drove out to Riverside, Californiawith all of the film reels to preview it before an audience. The film was still unfinished at this stage, missing many optical effects and most of Max Steiner's music score. They arrived at the Fox Theatre, which was playing a double feature of "Hawaiian Nights" and "Beau Geste". Kern called for the manager and explained that they had selected his theatre for the first public screening of "Gone with the Wind". He was told that after "Hawaiian Nights" had finished, he could make an announcement of the preview, but was forbidden to say what the film was. People were permitted to leave, but the theatre would thereafter be sealed with no re-admissions and no phone calls out. The manager was reluctant, but finally agreed. His only request was to call his wife to come to the theatre immediately. Kern stood by him as he made the call to make sure he did not reveal the name of the film to her.
When the film began, there was a buzz in the audience when Selznick's name appeared, for they had been reading about the making of the film for over two years. In an interview years later, Kern described the exact moment the audience realized what was happening:
"When Margaret Mitchell's name came on the screen, you never heard such a sound in your life. They just yelled, they stood up on the seats...I had the [manually-operated sound] box. And I had that music wide open and you couldn't hear a thing. Mrs. Selznick was crying like a baby and so was David and so was I. Oh, what a thrill! And when "Gone with the Wind" came on the screen, it was thunderous!"
In his seminal biography of Selznick, David Thomson wrote that the audience's response before the story had even started "was the greatest moment of his life, the greatest victory and redemption of all his failings." [cite book
first = David
last = Thomson
title = Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick
location = New York
publisher = Knopf
year = 1992
id = ISBN 0-394-56833-8 ]
After the film, there was a huge ovation. In the preview cards filled out after the screening, two-thirds of the audience had rated it excellent, an unusually high ratingFact|date=April 2008. Most of the audience begged that the film not be cut shorter and many suggested that instead they eliminate the newsreels, shorts and B-movie feature, which is eventually how "Gone with the Wind" was screened and would soon become the norm in movie theatres around the world.
The film premiered in
Atlanta, Georgia, on December 15, 1939as the climax of three days of festivities hosted by the mayor which consisted of a parade of limousines featuring stars from the film, receptions, thousands of Confederate flags, false antebellumfronts on stores and homes, and a costume ball. The governor of Georgia declared December 15a state holiday. President Jimmy Carterwould later recall it as "the biggest event to happen in the South in my lifetime."
From December 1939 to June 1940, the film played only advance-ticket
road showengagements at a limited number of theaters, before it went into general release in 1941. [In February 1940, the movie was playing in 156 theatres in 150 U. S. cities.]
It was a sensational hit during
the Blitzin London, opening in April 1940 and playing continuously for four years. ["London Movie Doings", "The New York Times", June 25, 1944, p. X3.]
Some have criticized the film for romanticizing, sanitizing or even promoting the values of the
antebellumSouth, in particular its reliance on slavery. For example, syndicated columnist Leonard Pittshas likened it to "a romance set in Auschwitz."
The character of Mammy, played by
Hattie McDaniel, has been linked with the stock character of the "happy slave", an archetypethat is said to implicitly condone slavery. But Helen Taylor, in "Scarlett's Women: Gone with the Wind and Its Female Fans" argued that Mammy's character is more complex than this, that her character represents someone who cared for others, despite the racism and oppression she suffered.
On the other hand, Mammy frequently derides other slaves on the plantation as "field hands," implying that as a House Servant she is above the "less-refined" blacks. It is most apparent in a scene in which Mammy and Scarlett walk down a street and Mammy passes by a Yankee
carpetbaggerwho promises a group of ex-slaves " forty acres and a mule." The ex-slaves are excited, but Mammy glares at them disapprovingly.
Responding to the racial critiques of the film, Selznick replied that the black characters were "lovable, faithful, high-minded people who would leave no impression but a very nice one." While Mammy is generally portrayed in a positive light, other black characters in the film are not so fortunate.
The character of Prissy, played by
Butterfly McQueenhas been accused of perpetuating the stereotype that black slaves were stupid and childlike. In one scene, as Melanie is about to give birth, Prissy bursts into tears and admits she lied to Scarlett: "Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies!" (In response, Scarlett slaps her). [ [http://www.reelclassics.com/Audio_Video/Quotes7r/gwtw_butterfly_birthin.wav wav file] ] In " The Autobiography of Malcolm X", the former civil rights leader recounted his experience of watching this particular scene as a small boy in Michigan: "I was the only Negro in the theater, and when Butterfly McQueen went into her act, I felt like crawling under the rug." It should be noted that as the story begins in the book, Prissy is only twelve years old.
The role of Prissy catapulted
Butterfly McQueen's film career, but within ten years, she grew tired of playing black ethnic stereotypes. When she refused to be typecast that way, it ended her career.
Members of the African-American community criticized many black actors for agreeing to play a role in the film.
Oscar Polk, who played the role of Pork, wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Defender— a prominent newspaper in the black community — to respond to that criticism. "As a race we should be proud," he said, "that we have risen so far above the status of our enslaved ancestors and be glad to portray ourselves as we once were because in no other way can we so strikingly demonstrate how far we have come in so few years."
After the Civil War, Gerald O’Hara (Scarlett’s father, who owns the plantation Tara), scolds his daughter about the way she is treating Mammy and Prissy. “You must be firm to inferiors, but gentle, especially darkies,” he advises her. While Scarlett was criticized for being too harsh on the house servants, Gerald’s premise that black people are “inferior” is not questioned, however “inferior” could be interpreted as their social status as workers, just as one’s boss is referred to as his “superior.” In the novel, author Margaret Mitchell made a point of the importance of social hierarchy in the Antebellum South.
Some scenes subtly undercut the apparent romanticization of Southern slavery. During the panicked evacuation of Atlanta as Union troops approach, Scarlett runs into Big Sam, the black foreman of the O'Hara plantation. Big Sam informs her that he (and a group of black field-hands who are with him) have been impressed to dig fortifications for the Confederacy. But these men are singing "
Go Down Moses", a famous black spiritual that slaves would sing to call for the abolition of slavery.
The Shantytown Raid scene was changed in the film to make it less racially divisive than the book. After Scarlett is attacked in a
Shantytownoutside Atlanta, her husband Frank, Ashley, and others leave to raid the Shantytown that night to avenge Scarlett's honor. In the book, there are two attackers, one is black and one is white, and those who raid the Shantytown after her attack are identified as members of the Ku Klux Klan(although Scarlett herself disdains the Klan). [Mitchell, Margaret, "Gone with the Wind", Ch. 38 (1936) MacMillan ] In the film, no mention of the Klan is made. In both the film and the book, a black man, Big Sam, who was the O'Hara's old foreman, saves her life during the attack.
Racial politics spilled into the film's premiere in Atlanta, Georgia. As Georgia was a segregated state, Hattie McDaniel could not have attended the cinema without sitting in the "colored" section of the movie theater; to avoid troubling Selznick, she thus sent a letter saying she would not be able to attend. When
Clark Gableheard that McDaniel did not want to attend because of the racial issue, he threatened to boycott the premiere unless McDaniel was able to attend; he later relented when McDaniel convinced him to go. [Harris, Warren G. Clark Gable: A Biography, Harmony, (2002), page 211.]
At the costume ball during the premiere, local promoters recruited blacks to dress up as slaves and sing in a "Negro choir" on the steps of a white-columned plantation mansion built for the event. Many black community leaders refused to participate, but prominent Atlanta preacher
Martin Luther King, Sr.attended, and he brought his 10-year-old son, future civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who sang that night in the choir.
The film also resulted in an important moment in African-American history:
Hattie McDanielwon an Academy Awardfor Best Supporting Actress, the first time an African-American actor received the award.
In an attempt to draw upon his company's profits, but to pay
capital gaintax rather than a much higher personal income tax, David O. Selznick and his business partners liquidated Selznick International Pictures over a three-year period in the early 1940s. As part of the liquidation, Selznick sold his rights in "Gone with the Wind" to Jock Whitney and his sister, who in turn sold it to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1944. Today it is owned by Turner Entertainment, whose parent company Turner Broadcastingacquired MGM's film library in 1986. Turner itself is currently a subsidiary of Time Warner, which is the current parent company of Warner Bros.Entertainment. Incidentally, "Gone with the Wind" is the favorite movie of TBS founder Ted Turner, himself an Atlanta resident.
"Gone with the Wind" was given theatrical re-releases in 1947, 1954, 1961, 1967 (in a widescreen version), [The American Widescreen Museum, [http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/special/gwtw.htm Gone With the Wind] .] 1971, 1989, and 1998. It made its television debut on the
HBOcable network in June 1976, and its broadcast debut the following November on the NBCnetwork, where it became at that time the highest-rated television program ever presented on a single network, watched by 47.5 percent of the households in America, and 65 percent of television viewers. Ironically, it was surpassed the following year by the mini-series "Roots", a saga about slavery in America.
Rumors of Hollywood producing a sequel to this film persisted for decades until 1994, when a sequel was finally produced for television, based upon
Alexandra Ripley's novel, "Scarlett", itself a sequel to Mitchell's original. Both the book and mini-serieswere met with mixed reviews. In the TV version, British actors played both key roles: Welsh-born actor Timothy Daltonplayed Rhett while Manchester-born Joanne Whalleyplayed Scarlett. Original plans were used for the reconstruction of a replica of the original Tara set in Charleston, South Carolina for the filming.
In 1989, "Gone with the Wind" was selected for preservation in the United States
National Film Registryby the Library of Congressas being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 1998, the American Film Instituteranked it #4 on its "100 Greatest Movies" list.
Rhett Butler's infamous farewell line to Scarlett O'Hara, "
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn", was voted in a poll by the American Film Institutein 2005 as the most memorable line in cinema history. [ABC.net [http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200506/s1398449.htm http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200506/s1398449.htm] ] Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined Selznick $5,000 for using the word "damn." [ Leff, Leonard J. and Simmons, Jerold L., "The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code", pp. 107-108.]
In 2005, the AFI ranked
Max Steiner's score for the film the second greatest of all time. The AFI also ranked the film #2 in their list of the greatest romances of all time (100 Years... 100 Passions).
After filming concluded, the set of Tara sat on the back lot of the former Selznick Studios as the Forty Acres back lot reverted to
RKO Picturesand then was sold to Desilu Productions. In 1959, Southern Attractions, Inc. purchased the façade of Tara, which was dismantled and shipped to Georgia with plans to relocate it to the Atlanta area as a tourist attraction. ["Los Angeles Times", May 17, 1959, p. G10.] [Jennifer W. Dickey, [http://etd.gsu.edu/theses/available/etd-07252007-104218/unrestricted/dickey_jennifer_w_200708_phd.pdf "A Tough Little Patch of History": Atlanta's Marketplace for Gone With the Wind Memory"] , Ph.D. dissertation, Georgia State University, 2007, pp. 85–89.] David O. Selznick commented at the time,
Nothing in Hollywood is permanent. Once photographed, life here is ended. It is almost symbolic of Hollywood. Tara had no rooms inside. It was just a façade. So much of Hollywood is a façade. [Murray Schumach, "Hollywood Gives Tara to Atlanta," "New York Times", May 25, 1959, p. 33.]
However, the Margaret Mitchell estate refused to license the novel's commercial use in connection with the façade, citing Mitchell's dismay at how little it resembled her description. In 1979 the dismantled plywood and
papier-mâchéset, reportedly in "terrible" condition, was purchased for $5,000 by Betty Talmadge, the ex-wife of former Georgia governor and U.S. senator Herman Talmadge. She lent the front door of Tara's set to the Margaret Mitchell House and Museumin downtown Atlanta, Georgia where it is on permanent display, featured in the Gone with the Wind film museum. Other items from the movie, such as from the set of Scarlett and Rhett's Atlanta mansion, are still stored at The Culver Studios (formerly Selznick International) including the stained glass window from the top of the staircase which was actually a painting. The famous painting of Scarlett in her blue dress, which hung in Rhett's bedroom, hung for years at the Margaret Mitchell Elementary School in Atlanta, but is now on permanent loan to the Margaret Mitchell Museum, complete with stains from the glass of sherry that Rhett Butler threw at it in anger.
Vivien Leighas Scarlett O'Hara
Clark Gableas Rhett Butler
* Leslie Howard as
Olivia de Havillandas Melanie Hamilton
Hattie McDanielas Mammy
Oscar Polkas Pork
Butterfly McQueenas Prissy
George Reevesas Stuart Tarleton (miscredited as Brent Tarleton)
* Fred Crane as Brent Tarleton (miscredited as Stuart Tarleton)
* Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O'Hara
Barbara O'Neilas Ellen O'Hara
Evelyn Keyesas Suellen O'Hara
Ann Rutherfordas Carreen O'Hara
* Howard Hickman as John Wilkes
Alicia Rhettas India Wilkes
* Rand Brooks as
Carroll Nyeas Frank Kennedy
Victor Joryas Jonas Wilkerson
* Everett Brown as Big Sam
Harry Davenportas Dr Meade
Cammie Kingas Bonnie blue Butler
Cliff Edwardsas Reminiscent Soldier
*Overture - MGM Studio and orchestra
*Main Title - MGM Studio and orchestra Chorus
*Maryland my Maryland - MGM Studio and Orchestra
*Irish Washerwoman - Dances claps
*Garryowen - Dances falling in love
*My Old Kentucky Home - Butterfly McQueen
*Intermission - MGM Studio and Orchestra
*Entr'acte - MGM Studio and orchestra
*Marching Through Georgia - Man's Opera singer
*Lady's good dancers - MGM Studio and Orchestra
*Bridal Chorus - MGM Studio and Orchestra Chorus
*Scarlett's baby named Bonnie - MGM Studio and orchestra Chorus
*For He's a Jolly good Fellow - Guest singers at the party
*Ben Bolt (Oh Don't You Remember) - Vivien Leigh
*London Bridge is Falling Down - MGM Studio and Orchestra (Children Songs)
*Death of Bonnie - MGM studio and Orchestra
*Death of Melanie - MGM Studio and orchestra Chorus
*Finale - MGM Studio and orchestra Chorus
*Exit Music - MGM Studio and orchestra
Winner of 10
Academy Awards. (8 regular, 1 honorary, 1 technical)
American Film Institute recognition
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies#4
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions#2
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" #1
** "After all, tomorrow is another day" #31
** "As God as my witness, I'll never be hungry again!" #59
AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores#2
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers#43
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition)#6
AFI's 10 Top 10#4 Epic film
*"Fiddle-dee-dee. War, war, war. This war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring." (Scarlett O'Hara's first lines)
*"Why, land's the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts." (Scarlett's father to Scarlett)
*"I seem to be spoiling everybody's brandy and cigars and dreams of victory." (Rhett, on the prospects of winning a war against the North)
*Scarlett: "Sir, you are no gentleman." Rhett: "And you, miss, are no lady."
*"You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how." (Rhett to Scarlett)
*"You helpless? Heaven help the Yankees if they capture you." (Rhett to Scarlett)
*"As God as my witness, I'll never be hungry again!"
*"Don't worry about me. I can shoot straight, if I don't have to shoot too far." (Scarlett to Rhett)
*"Don't drink alone, Scarlett. People always find out, and it ruins the reputation." (Rhett to Scarlett)
*"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." (Rhett, leaving Scarlett, as she asks where she will go and what she will do without him)
*"Tara! Home! I'll go home, and I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day." (Scarlett, thinking out loud)
* Bridges, Herb (1998). "The Filming of Gone with the Wind". Mercer University Press. ISBN 0-86554-621-5.
* Bridges, Herb (1999). "Gone with the Wind: The Three-Day Premiere in Atlanta". Mercer University Press. ISBN 0-86554-672-X.
* Cameron, Judy, & Paul J. Christman (1989). "The Art of Gone with the Wind: The Making of a Legend". Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-046740-5.
* Harmetz, Aljean (1996). "On the Road to Tara: The Making of Gone with the Wind". New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3684-4.
* Myrick, Susan (1982). "White Columns in Hollywood: Reports from the GWTW Sets". Mercer University Press. ISBN 0-865542457.
* Pratt, William. (1977). "Scarlett Fever: The Ultimate Pictorial Treasury of Gone with the Wind". Macmillan. ISBN 0-020125100.
* Vertrees, Alan David (1997). "Selznick's Vision: Gone with the Wind and Hollywood Filmmaking". University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292787294.
* [http://www.franklymydear.com/ Official site]
* [http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/online/gwtw/wardrobe/ Gone with the Wind wardrobe]
* [http://vivienleigh.wordpress.com Gone with the Wind News]
* [http://www.locatetv.com/movie/gone-with-the-wind Gone with the Wind] at [http://www.locatetv.com LocateTV]
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