“Play It Again” is a series devoted to the review of great American films before 1980.
Gone With The Wind, 1939 – Directed by Victor Fleming, Produced by David O. Selznick
I have developed a habit of asking friends and family about their favorite old movies, and I have been surprised many times by their responses.
A great number of women in my life have answered Gone with the Wind. I was astounded by this. The women in my life are strong, modern women, not prone to romantic stories of overindulged southern belles. I didn’t see the connection because, like so many people, I thought I knew the film and the story. As it turns out, I did not.
Thus, this week’s film is Gone with the Wind. This 1939 epic-historical-romance film was based on Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer-winning novel, published in 1936.
The film won eight Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming), Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing and Best Art Direction.
The story takes place in and around Atlanta, Georgia, just before the Civil War and afterwards, in the period referred to as Reconstruction. The War only acts as a backdrop to the story. I feel that the audience of 1939 related to the film not because of the Civil War, but due to the recent memory of the Great Depression. They could understand the impact of a catastrophe, to feel out of control of one’s life, as did Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh).
The story opens with our main character, Scarlett O’Hara, as a pretty, very spoiled girl of sixteen, excited to be going to a ball at the plantation of the man she loves, Ashley Wilkes. The ball is on the eve of the Civil War’s onset. Scarlett is disappointed when she learns Ashley will be marrying Melanie…. Wait…Wait…
Back to the real story. Scarlett doesn’t really love Ashley. She loves the lifestyle that would be hers if she were to become his wife. Ashley is a fine gentleman, with wealth and a fine family. However, she really loves Rhett Butler. Scarlett doesn’t want to love Rhett because he is the “bad boy.” Truth be told, Scarlett and Rhett are more alike than she would like to admit. The greatness of the film is the way the story unfolds and Scarlett’s growth from that spoiled little girl to a strong woman. I won’t give too much away, but it’s more than just an average love story.
Gone with the Wind is an American iconic film; you should take the time to watch it for yourself. This is an old film I recommend watching on the big screen to really enjoy the cinematography. Enjoy and play it again.