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Gone With The Wind Movie Review

hara war scarlett film

1939 – Victor Fleming –

Based on the runaway best-selling novel by Margaret Mitchell, this story follows Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) as she braves the years during and after the Civil War. Armed with nothing but beauty and self-confidence, Scarlett goes through many tribulations as she moves from one husband to the next, flees from the Yankees, and saves her home plantation, Tara, from the carpetbaggers. She pursues the intellectual Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and spurns Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), the man who loves and understands her, until a series of tragedies open her eyes to her folly. But by then, Rhett “doesn't give a damn.”

This most famous of all Hollywood classic movies has everything: Civil War action for the men, abiding romance for the women, authentic and decorative sets and costumes (the laundry bill alone for the hoop skirts was $10,000), and some history lessons thrown in. After a world-wide search, British Vivien Leigh was selected as the perfect Scarlett O'Hara, and readers nationwide had demanded Clark Gable for the role of Rhett Butler. They fit the parts so well that it is impossible to imagine others in those roles, as clips of old screen tests make evident. But the principals are brilliantly supported with figures like Hattie McDaniel as protective and canny Mammy and Olivia de Havilland as Melanie, quiet reservoir of strength and compassion.

The most expensive film that had been made, Gone With The Wind is still the platinum yardstick by which film success is measured. For years, it held the record as the biggest grossing movie of all time (and does still with inflation factored in). The movie ran in 1940 wartime London for 232 weeks, with its message that individual survival is possible even if the civilization around you crumbles. Generations of Americans have gained their knowledge of our country's bloodiest war not from history texts but from the images in this film, especially the wounded and dying at Atlanta's train depot. Far from romanticizing war, Gone With The Wind spends half of its four-hour run chronicling the hideous poverty, greed, and despair that are war's aftermath. For African-Americans and for women, the movie was also a landmark. Blacks were still cast in servant roles, but the stereotypes were enriched and individuated; no one would confuse Mammy's rock-solid practicality with Prissy's empty-headed laziness. And Scarlett, for all her hoop skirts and flirtatious ways, is a complex picture of a woman—energetic but limited, admirable and maddening, self-confident and self-deceived.

Cast: Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara), Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton), Evelyn Keyes (Sue Ellen O'Hara), Ann Rutherford (Carreen O'Hara), Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O'Hara), Barbara O'Neil (Ellen O'Hara), Hattie McDaniel (Mammy), Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes), Oscar Polk (Pork), Butterfly McQueen (Prissy), Everett Brown (Big Sam), Carroll Nye (Frank Kennedy), Ona Munson (Belle Watling), Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat), Rand Brooks (Charles Hamilton) Screenwriter: Sidney Howard Cinematographer: Ernest Haller, Ray Rennatron Composer: Max Steiner Producer: David O. Selznick for Selznick International; released by MGM Running Time: 222 minutes Format: VHS, LV Awards: Academy Awards, 1939: Picture, Director, Actress (Vivien Leigh), Art Direction, Cinematography, Director, Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Screenplay, Film Editing; Nominations: Actor (Clark Gable), Effects, Score, Sound recording, Supporting Actress (Olivia de Havilland) Budget: $3.9M Box Office: $31M (initial release).

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