Ryan’s Quick Review: Gone With The Wind (1939)

Gone With The Wind

Ah, the old days. Maybe not so good old. As much as people want to see Gone With The Wind as a story of a complicated romance between Rhett Butler & Scarlett O’Hara, we really can’t brush aside the racism, sexism, elitism, classicism, and perhaps 1 or 2 other isms. For every powerful “as God is my witness” line, there’s the fact that Scarlett is a selfish jerk who only ever wants what she can’t have. For every bold declaration of “tomorrow is another day”, there’s the marital rape. And, hoo boy, we can’t forget the glossed-over slavery.

Not that we should dwell on those isms. The movie is 4 hours long. You can be cheesed off about those controversies for a solid hour and still have 3 more to wallow in the opulence! And it would be some decadent wallowing. Producer/mogul David Selznick spent a lot of MGM’s money to build massive pre- and post-Civil War sets, then burned some of those sets to the ground. Enough different dresses to clothe a small southern town found their way to Vivien Leigh’s back, only to be discarded after that first and only wearing. You know, reality.

It probably sounds like I want to spit rail spikes at this movie. That’s not entirely true. Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable are terrific as Scarlett and Rhett. Olivia De Havilland is fine too, although her character’s halo occasionally gets in the way of anything resembling a real person. As good as the stars were, Hattie McDaniel (in a solid performance) was the only actor to win an Oscar. The film won 7 other trophies, including Best Picture of 1939. As for the American Film Institute, Gone With The Wind was on 7 different Top 100 (or Top 25) lists. The AFI likey. And so will you, if you can overlook that Scarlett is an ass and her last line is stupid.

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