My Favorite Movie Gone With the Wind


 

 GONE WITH THE WIND, 1939

Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia DeHavilland, Leslie Howard

 

                                                                                             Rhett Butler

Scarlett O”Hara…Just the name brings images to mind. I see her silhouetted against the stormy sky holding a garden root in her hand swearing, “As God is My witness, I will never be hungry again!”Gone

But then I get ahead of myself.  Why do I watch a movie made in the 30’s every chance I get?  What is it about the characters that draws my fascination?

“But Ashly, you can’t marry Melany.  You love me…I know you love me!”

“Ah, my sweet Scarlett.  Of course I love you.  I love your energy, your life…your…”  Ah, that mealy mouthed “southern gentleman” is not worth Scarlett’s adoration.  What does she possibly see in him?”Leslie Howard

And then I see Rhett sticking his head up over the couch mimicking… “Oh Ashley…you do love me…”  and the vase flying through the air, Rhett ducking just in time.

“And you, Mr. Butler, are certainly no gentleman, not showing yourself, letting a lady…”

“I may be no gentleman, but you,  Scarlett O”Hara, are certainly no lady!”

 

 

Just what was a “lady” in Scarlett’s world.  Melany?  Soft spoken, forgiving, encouraging, not a jealous imagesbone in her body.  Now that character is not real, not then and not today!  I think Margaret Mitchell went a bit overboard in creating a contrasting character to play off Scarlett.

 

 

 

Can you imagine Melany holding the horse in the river while the Yankees crossed the bridge over her head?

 

Olivia_de_Havilland_as_Melanie_Hamilton_in_Gone_With_the_Wind_trailer

Would Ashley do everything…killing, stealing, lying to save his plantation?

When Rhett saves her from the Yankees, through fire and attack and then leaves her at the bridge with horse,  a sick Melany and baby…Yankees overhead, you will see her strength and never wonder about just how far Scarlett will go to save Tara.  Her father has told her it is the “land”.  Tara, Tara, Tara  echoes.

green dress

I love Scarlett’s  grit, her fancy green velvet dress made from the draperies from her once palatial home ravished by the war.  Her goal: to impress Rhett, (who’s in jail)  to give her the tax money to save Tara. When that failed, believe the glint in her eyes when she’s sees the lumber mill Sue Ellen’s beau has developed.  How could she???  Nice?  Never! Calculating, crafty, gorgeous.

 

Scarlett spends no time worrying about her soul.  When her world threatens to collapse around her,  how does she handle it?    “Oh Fiddly dee I’ll think about that tomorrow!”    Will she get Rhett back?  As his figure fades into the fog, through

her tear stained face she sighs, Scarlett  Tears     “Well, tomorrow is another day.”   Is there any doubt? Perhaps.

 

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Black and white. Life is much more complicated.  It was suggested to me by a loved one that Melany was the stronger character.  My first impulse was to deny her conclusion–too good, too perfect.  Scarlett?  Too selfish, calculating, manipulative, so who was the most realistic character?  Rhett.  A handsome,  reprobate realistic to life’s sins and satisfactions.  Without ethics?  Perhaps, but a rogue with a heart.

 

MARGARET MITCHELL 

Margaret Mitchell 2Was Margaret Mitchell Scarlett?  A beautiful rebel born in 1900.   She was a “writer” her entire life, worked as a journalist when  women of class just didn’t work.  Her stories were published under “Peggy” Mitchell.  When she injured her ankle and became more sedentary she began to write her  novel.  She always had trouble with “beginnings” so started her stories with the ending and worked backward.

Margaret Mitchell wrote for nine years on her book.  The manuscript was scattered throughout the house, hand written pages, some typed, some scribbled on scrap paper.  When a representative from MacMillan came in search of stories from local people, a friend casually mentioned that “Peggy” was a writer.  That comment resulted in the agent leaving town with a suitcase of Margaret’s manuscript totaling over 1000 pages.  Several days later she called and said she had changed her mind about publishing her book.  The agent refused to send it back.

Gone With the Wind, one of the first movies to be made in technicolor, was born.  The book, then the movie took over Margaret’s life.  The instant success (she’d hoped to sell 5,000 copies that first year and sold over 50,000 in one day) changed her life.   Success was a demanding task master.  Exasperated, Margaret Mitchell vowed never to write another word.   Her life was no longer her own.  She made well over $1,000,000 from the book/movie. David O. Selznick paid her $50,000 for the movie rights, highest amount he’d ever paid to an unknown author.  After the phenomenal success of the movie, Mr. Selznick felt he had underpaid her and sent her a check for another $50,000.

Margaret MitchellMs. Mitchell refused to have anything to do with the making of the movie.  Once in exasperation of the continual questioning, she retorted that she thought Groucho Marks would make a great Rhett Butler.   Margaret was philanthropic with her wealth aiding black scholars with their studies and contributing to the construction of the first black hospital in Atlanta.  Because of the political atmosphere, her donations remained anonymous.

After almost seventy-five years, Gone With the Wind remains  a technical masterpiece in music, technicolor, editing,  and, with the help of current technology, it rivals today’s newest creations. The vagaries of life.  On August 11, 1949, while crossing the street with her husband on the way to a movie,  Margaret Mitchell was hit by a car driven by a drunk taxi cab driver.  She never regained consciousness.  Five days later she died at the age of 49.

Was Margarete’s  world the real world?  Ladies and Gentlemen were not the builders of empires.  It was the Rhetts and Scarletts who picked up the pieces and rebuilt their lives.  It is the  survivors who change the world.  According to the author of perhaps the most famous, successful novel ever written, her characters had “gumption.”  Gone With the Wind is said to be the second most published book next to the Bible.

Margaret Mitchell 3     Gumption:  Initiative, get-up-and-go, moxie,  shrewdness, imagination, courage, horse sense, determination, spirit, pluck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas at Our House

Charlie brown Xmas treeChristmas at Our House

When I was very young, my two sisters and I would cut our own tree.  Now this was a long, long time ago when we lived  in the foothills of the Cascade in Oregon. No tree farms.  We would traipse around ours (or our neighbors’) back forty looking for the perfect tree.  What we usually ended up doing was climbing a tree and sawing off the top (crooked, of course) drag it home, get out the two by four stand with a hole drilled in it and try to stand it up…not an easy task.  It usually ended up looking a bit like this.  No matter.  Our ornaments generally consisted of crayoned chains cut from construction paper, strings   of  popcorn (some burnt kernels included) and maybe a very bedraggled star that would not stay upright on the top branch.  We’d step back to admire our handiwork–beautiful.

Our presents were wrapped, no scotch tape in those days, and tied with yarn if we were lucky enough to find some.  When presents arrived from distant grandparents, we would open them without parental knowledge, and try to re wrap them so we wouldn’t get caught…ruined our surprise, of course, as skullduggery often does.  It was the anticipation, the wonder of possible gifts, the inevitable disappointment in the practical gifts received.  Next year…there was always next year.

Christmas Eve was our big celebrations.  Our three children, so close in age, were always as thrilled with the holiday as my sisters and I were.  Cutting our own tree was a continued tradition but now it was on tree farms.    The five of us would brave rain, snow.  Their father,  saw in hand, would wait patiently for us to find the perfect tree which could never be the first one (although we often returned to it after a thorough hunt).  Why is it that the tree looks so small in the field and is so big we can’t get it through the door?  We’d move furniture to accommodate our trophy.

christmas-tree-pics-0111Tradition: colored lights, garlands. tree ornaments with pictures of growing children glued to bright, shiny balls.  Christmas Eve was family exchange but Santa always left his gifts Christmas morning.

Ghosts of Christmas Past:  Granny, Ron’s mother was the best mother-in-law a person could ask for.  I hear you, Granny, playing the old, familiar carols on your organ.  Although we were incompatible in the kitchen, you measured everything and never had a failure, I’d say… a bit of this and maybe some of that…some success and lots of failures.  Remember you bought my first bikini?  My complaint?  It covered everything I had!  You gave me my first car, a tan Chrysler with velvet seats, a piano when you heard me say I would like to learn, ( it was washed away in the flood along with everything else,)  and my first “original” oil  painting, an ocean scene far too expensive for our budget.  Thank you for accepting me and thinking I was good enough for your only son.

LJ, my only daughter who loved me beyond words.  Remember that time when you and I were left to pick out the Christmas tree, LJ?  You always had grand ideas.  It was so big that it covered the entire car with just enough sight through the branches to see our way.   There we were,  a Christmas tree driving down the road!  We barely got it in the house and had to put the star on the top from the second floor.

Your Christmas would start months in advance as you created your lovely wood sculptures, your ceramic,  loving figurines, special gifts to each of us. Where did you get that beautiful voice?  Certainly not from your father or me who can barely carry a tune.    I listen to the music you left me, voice echoing and you are here, celebrating, cajoling, your “get-tough, Ma!” call echoing as I compete in that marathon paddle tournament.

Our loved ones are never gone, they live in the depth of our hearts, in the folds of our memories, a part who we are, with us for all eternity.

Our two sons married incorporating their spouses’ Christmas traditions into their own. Although we did not raise our children within any religious framework, each seemed to find their own “religion” with their spouses.  One has become Catholic, the other  a more “fundamental” approach.  We celebrate with nine grandchildren from age six to twenty-five. The  Christmas Eve celebration remains at our home, packages piled, grandchildren performing their songs, and poems, always reading the Christmas story from Luke. And when we gather around the table there is an Agnostic (me) an Atheist (Ron, who has softened that to a ? being a scientist he needs proof!)  a Catholic family of seven, a Fundamentalist family of six.  We begin our repast with Hail Marys, and end our prayers singing five Amens (the five great religions of the world.)  SO BE IT.

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