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.

 

 **************************************************************************************

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress Themes