The Best Picture Winner Turns 80
What kind of a critic would I be if I never saw “Gone With the Wind?” A lousy one at that. But not me. I’ve found out there’s more than meets the eye. By “eye,” I mean what is on the poster. Based on Margaret Mitchell’s novel, “Gone With the Wind” was directed by Victor Fleming, produced by David O. Selznik, and its screenplay was done by Sidney Howard. Together, they made a movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1939.
Vivian Leigh won the Oscar for her performance of Scarlett O’Hara, a Southern Belle, who wants to marry the engaged Ashley (Ashley Howard). She admits her love for him countless times, but he turns her down. And she suffers through much turmoil during and after the Civil War. Leigh is quite compelling playing a woman with fear and independence.
Captain Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) is the “Visitor from Charleston,” who admits his love for Scarlett, but he isn’t a marrying man, and she isn’t attracted to him. They have their differences, and they have their similarities. He is rich and charismatic, and she is strong-willed and weary; and during the film’s second half, they decide to marry.
“Gone With the Wind” is filled with enough drama and acting to hold everyone’s attention for generations. Besides Gable and Leigh, we also have to appreciate the supporting roles from Howard as Ashley and the first African American Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel as Scarlett’s caring house keeper. These two stars work wonders with Leigh, and they way they play their characters.
We should also admire the look and feel of the movie. The costumes, the production design, the music by Max Steiner, and the cinematography by Ernest Haller. It is nice to know that in the same year, 1939, director Victor Fleming has made two great movies: “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind.” And both these movie are among the greatest movies I’ve ever seen.
On a personal note, I want to add a few things about life in general, regarding this classic.
Gabel had rancid breath, because of a bad gum disease, which caused him to lose his teeth, and get dentures. And even if Leigh was suffering from the kisses, she still thought he was a great guy. If a nice person is blowing bad breath on your face, I call it “Clark Gabling.” Just remember that.
And remember the pony scene, where their daughter gets killed while trying to jump the fence? Now I know why parents can’t buy their kids ponies.
In select theaters February 28 and March 3