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The O'Hara family is one of the most prominent and wealthy families in Georgia and their plantation Tara is often host to the region's biggest social events. Among the O'Hara children, Scarlett is the most headstrong, vain and impetuous of three daughters. She has her choice of many suitors but becomes intent on marrying Ashley Wilkes, a sensitive intellectual whose fate lies elsewhere. When the Civil War erupts and brings devastation and poverty to the O'Hara family, Scarlett becomes the one who fights the hardest to preserve her family's beloved Tara. Through the roughest period of the Reconstruction, Scarlett struggles to maintain ownership of her estate while resisting and eventually succumbing to her most ardent suitor, Rhett Butler, who matches her in stubborn determination and unbridled desire.
Director: Victor Fleming
Producer: David O. Selznick
Screenplay: Sidney Howard
Based on the novel by Margaret MitchellCinematography: Ernest Haller, Ray Rennahan
Editing: Hal C. Kern
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara), Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes), Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton), Hattie McDaniel (Mammy), Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O'Hara), Barbara O'Neil (Mrs. O'Hara), Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat Hamilton), Harry Davenport (Doctor Meade), Ona Munson (Belle Watling), Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O'Hara), Ann Rutherford (Careen O'Hara), Butterfly McQueen (Prissy), Alicia Rhett (India Wilkes), Eddie Anderson (Uncle Peter), Rand Brooks (Charles Hamilton), Jane Darwell (Mrs. Merriwether), Mary Anderson (Maybelle Merriwether), Isabel Jewell (Emmy Slattery), Victor Jory (Jonas Wilkerson), Yakima Canutt (Renegade), Cammie King (Bonnie Blue Butler), Lillian Kemble-Cooper (Bonnie's Nurse), Ward Bond (Tom, a Yankee Captain), George Reeves (Brent Tarleton), Fred Crane (Stuart Tarleton)
Why GONE WITH THE WIND is Essential
"Selznick's Folly" had become the nickname applied by cynics to Gone with the Wind (1939) while David O. Selznick's film version of Margaret Mitchell's sprawling epic of the Old South was still in production. But when the $4 million movie had its premiere on December 15, 1939, cynicism was swept aside by such reactions as The Hollywood Reporter's headline description: "Magnificent and Supreme Triumph of Film History." When Oscar nominees for one of the greatest years ever in American film were announced, Gone with the Wind dominated the likes of Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, Ninotchka and Goodbye, Mr. Chips with an unprecedented 13 nominations.
Gone with the Wind was the culmination of the development of the Hollywood studio system since the coming of sound, showing how much could be accomplished using the vast armies of designers and technicians that even an independent producer like David O. Selznick could keep under contract.
Gone with the Wind was the longest, most expensive and successful Hollywood film made up to that point in time. As such, it inspired the studios to create ever bigger and more impressive screen epics that would produce some of Hollywood's biggest hits but also make the industry increasingly risky financially.
It was the first true "event" movie since the days of silent films. Thanks to Selznick's publicity department, under the supervision of Russell Birdwell, the film became a publicity bonanza. His marketing techniques are still being imitated in the drive to raise public awareness of individual motion pictures.
Gone with the Wind was a breakthrough in the use of color on screen, taking advantage of recent developments in Technicolor® technology that allowed for a broader color palette than had been previously available for color films.
The film represents the pinnacle of Selznick's career, combining his epic vision with a strong grasp of the popular audience's romantic tastes and his devotion to the literary sources from which he took most of his best movies.
The success of Gone with the Wind raised the profile of independent producers in Hollywood. By the time the film came out, there were 20 independent production companies working through the major Hollywood studios, paving the way for a future in which the independents would eventually come to dominate American film production.
Gone with the Wind also struck the first major blow against Hollywood's repressive Production Code, presenting an adult view of marital relations in Scarlett and Rhett's discussions of the place of sex in their marriage. As such, it led to a softening of the Code that would gradually bring more adult content to the screen.
When Oscar® night came, Gone with the Wind continued to make history with eight wins, plus special awards to Selznick and production designer William Cameron Menzies. "What a wonderful thing, this benefit for David O. Selznick," Bob Hope cracked as he began his first year as master of ceremonies. The first two major awards for Gone with the Wind were not claimed by their winners. Selznick accepted for director Victor Fleming, explaining that he was ill. Screenwriter Sidney Howard, who had been killed in a tractor accident on his Massachusetts farm, became the first posthumous Oscar winner. When Frank Freeman presented Selznick with the Best Picture award, the Southern-born Paramount executive cracked, "David, I never saw so many soldiers as were used in Gone with the Wind. Believe me, if the Confederate Army had had that many, we would have licked you damn Yankees."
Fay Bainter, announcing the winner for Best Supporting Actress, described the award as "a tribute to a country where people are free to honor noteworthy achievements regardless of creed, race or color." A big "Hallelujah!" rang from the lips of Hattie McDaniel, honored for her Mammy in Gone with the Wind. A disappointed Olivia de Havilland, also nominated in McDaniel's category, slipped into the Coconut Grove kitchen for some private tears before composing herself and returning to congratulate her co-star. In his final appearance at an Oscar® ceremony, Spencer Tracy appeared to present Vivien Leigh with her Best Actress award for so memorably playing Scarlett in Gone with the Wind. Leigh ended her acceptance speech with special thanks to Tracy for coming straight from the hospital after two days of treatment for strep throat.
Gone with the Wind also won in the categories of Color Cinematography, Interior Decoration and Film Editing. But the movie's winning streak stopped with the Best Actor award. Clark Gable, nominated for the performance of his life as Rhett Butler, lost to Robert Donat for Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
by Frank Miller & Roger Fristoe
Gone With the Wind (1939)
In early drafts of the book, Scarlett was named Pansy, Melanie was Permalia and Tara was Fontenoy Hall. Earlier titles included Bugles Sang True, Not in Our Stars, Tote the Weary Load and Tomorrow Is Another Day. Mitchell finally turned to an Edward Dowson poem for inspiration: "I have forgotten much, Cynara, gone with the wind...."
Because of its length, the novel sold for $3 a copy, 50 cents higher than most hard-bound books of the day. The book weighed 2 1/2 pounds.
Mitchell told friends she considered Basil Rathbone perfect casting for Rhett (this was before he had played Sherlock Holmes on screen). When the press asked her for her choice, she fobbed them off by suggesting Groucho Marx or Donald Duck.
After a few requests for background information from producer David O. Selznick's researchers, Mitchell refused to have anything to do with the film. She did not consider herself an expert on Southern history and did not want to be held responsible for any historical inaccuracies that might make it to the screen. Instead she suggested they hire Atlanta historian Wilbur Kurtz and writer Susan Myrick, who made numerous contributions to the production.
Costume designer Walter Plunkett signed to work on the film for 15 weeks. When that period ran out long before the script was even finished, producer David O. Selznick tried to convince him to stay on for free. Instead, Plunkett agreed to reduce his weekly fee.
Only two actresses interviewed during the Scarlett O'Hara talent search made it into the film. Alicia Rhett played Ashley's sister, India, and Mary Anderson played Maybelle Merriwether. Both came from the South. Only Anderson continued to work in Hollywood, most notably as the young nurse in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944).
The biggest star to come out of the talent search was a New York hat model named Edythe Marrener. After testing her in Hollywood, Selznick told her she didn't have what it took to be a movie star. She decided to stay on anyway and changed her name to Susan Hayward.
When nobody could figure out how to shoot the camera movement at the end of Scarlett's first scene with her father -- which involved synching film of the actors, a sunset effect and two different matte paintings, all shot at different times -- production manager Ray Klune turned to the UCLA math department, which calculated the effect using advanced calculus.
Butterfly McQueen was not happy with the depiction of Prissy as a lazy, ignorant black woman but at least could console herself that her salary would pay for a semester of college. But she wasn't pleased when, in her big scene, Leigh really hit her in take after take.
Scarlett's retching in the "I'll never be hungry again" scene had to be post-dubbed, but the ladylike Leigh could not produce a believable sound, so de Havilland dubbed it in for her.
Every time the company tried to film Belle Watling's (Ona Munson) first scene, the horses pulling her carriage ruined the scene by urinating. It took three hours -- from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. -- before they had completely emptied their bladders.
Thomas Mitchell, who played Scarlett's father, was terrified of horses. Ironically, his character died after falling from a horse.
Before Selznick wrote the "Tomorrow is another day" speech, the film ended with Mammy comforting Scarlett after Rhett's departure with the line "He'll come back. Didn't I say the last time? He'll do it again. I always know. Mammy always knows."
At the Oscar® ceremonies, host Bob Hope quipped, "It's a great thing -- this benefit for David O. Selznick."
Thomas Mitchell -- who played Scarlett's father, Gerald O'Hara -- won Best Supporting Actor for 1939, but for another film, Stagecoach.
Hattie McDaniel was the first black actor to win an Oscar®. She would be the only black actor to take the award until 1963, when Sidney Poitier won Best Actor for Lilies of the Field.
Screenwriter Sidney Howard was the first posthumous Oscar®-winner. He had been killed in a farming accident in August 1939.
The film would be the most nominated until 1950, when All About Eve received 14 Oscar® nominations. Its Oscar® record would be broken by Gigi (1958), which captured nine Academy Awards®.
Perfectionists are never happy, as publicist Russell Birdwell learned on his drive with Selznick to a celebration Oscar® party. According to Selznick biographer Bob Thomas, the producer snapped to Birdwell, who had campaigned tirelessly for the Gone with the Wind awards, "I don't know why we didn't get the Best Actor award for Gable. Somewhere you failed. You didn't put on the proper campaign; otherwise, Clark Gable would have been sure to get it." After the devastated Birdwell failed to report to work for two days, Selznick called and admitted, "I was a pig. I worked so hard and waited so long, I got piggish and wanted everything." Source: Mason Wiley & Damien Bona, Inside Oscar, 1986.
Famous Quotes From GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South....Here in this patrician world the Age of Chivalry took its last bow....Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave....Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind...." --Prologue.
"Fiddle-de-Dee! War! War! War! This war talk's spoiling all the fun at every party this spring. I get so bored. Besides, there isn't going to be any war." -- Vivien Leigh, as Scarlett O'Hara.
"Land's the only thing in the world that matters! The only thing worth working for, fighting for, dying for! Because it's the only thing in the world that lasts." -- Thomas Mitchell, as Gerald O'Hara.
"You can't show your bosom before three o'clock!" -- Hattie McDaniel, as Mammy, cautioning Leigh, as Scarlett O'Hara, about her dress for the Hamilton's barbecue.
"No war can come into our world. Whatever comes, I'll love you -- just as I do now -- until I die." -- Olivia de Havilland, as Melanie Wilkes, to Leslie Howard, as Ashley Wilkes.
"Isn't it enough that you've gathered in every other man's heart today? Must you have mine, too? You cut your teeth on it!" -- Howard, as Ashley Wilkes, to Leigh, as Scarlett.
"You're a girl of admirable spirit, Miss O'Hara, and I hope to see more of you when you're free of the spell of the elegant Mr. Wilkes. He doesn't strike me as half good enough for a girl of your...what was it? ...your passion for living."
"You aren't fit to wipe his boots!"
"And you were going to hate him for the rest of your life!" -- Clark Gable, as Rhett Butler, in his first encounter with Leigh.
"Look what he did to me. Made me a widow -- so I've got to wear black the rest of my life -- I look terrible in black." -- Leigh, "mourning" her first husband, Rand Hopkins, as Charles Hamilton.
"You know what trouble Ah's talkin' about. I'm talkin' about Mistuh Ashley Wilkes. He'll be comin' to Atlanta when he get his leave -- and you sittin' there waitin' fo' him -- jes' like a spider." -- McDaniel, as Mammy, objecting to Leigh's travel plans.
"If you've enough courage, you can do without a reputation." -- Gable, as Rhett Butler, to Leigh.
"This is the last of my father's fine Madeira that he got from his uncle, Admiral Wilbur Hamilton of Savannah, who married his cousin, Jessica Carroll of Carrollton, who was his second cousin once removed and kin to the Wilkeses, too. And I saved it to wish Ashley a Merry Christmas. But you mustn't drink it all at once, because it is the last." -- Laura Hope Crews, as Aunt Pittypat Hamilton.
"Tell me you love me, and I'll live on it all the rest of my life!" -- Leigh, to Howard.
"You should be kissed by somebody who knows how. Some day I'll kiss you, and you'll like it. But not yet. I'm waiting for the memory of the estimable Ashley Wilkes to fade." -- Gable, as Rhett.
"Ah don' know nuthin' 'bout birthin' babies." -- Butterfly McQueen, as Prissy.
"Take a look, my dear. It's a historic moment. You can tell your grandchildren how you watched the Old South disappear one night." -- Gable, on the evacuation of Atlanta.
"Heaven help General Sherman and all his Yankees if they run into you!" -- Gable to Leigh.
"Here's a soldier of the South loves you, Scarlett -- and nobody else. Wants to feel your lips and arms. Wants to take the memory of your kisses into battle with him. Never mind about loving me. You're a woman sending a soldier to his death with -- with a beautiful memory....Kiss me, Scarlett -- kiss me once." -- Gable, bidding Leigh goodbye on the road to Tara.
"As God is my witness...As God is my witness...They're not going to lick me!...I'm going to live through this and when it's over I'll never be hungry again...no, nor any of my folks!...If I have to lie -- or steal -- or cheat -- or kill! As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!" -- Leigh.
"And the wind swept through Georgia....SHERMAN!" -- Title card introducing the film's second half.
"Scarlett, do you think it would be dishonest if we went through his haversack."
"I'm ashamed I didn't think of that myself." -- De Havilland, as Melanie Hamilton, and Leigh, deciding what to do with the Yankee soldier Leigh has just killed.
"Well, I guess I've done murder. Oh, I won't think about that now. I'll think about that tomorrow." -- Leigh.
"The whole Confed'rut army got de same troubles -- crawlin' cloe's an' dysent'ry!" -- McDaniel.
"What do you think becomes of people when their civilization breaks up? Those who have brains and courage come through all right. Those who haven't are winnowed out." -- Howard, trying to survive the war's end.
"What you up to wid Miss Ellen's po'teers?"
"You're going to make my new dress out of them!"
"Not outer Miss Ellen's po'teers! Not w'ile Ah's got breaf in mah body!"
"They're my portieres now! I'm going to get the three hundred dollars in Atlanta! And I've got to go looking like a queen!" -- McDaniel and Leigh.
"Were you really there?"
"At the Watling woman's place. What did it look like? Are there cut glass chandeliers and plush curtains and dozens of gilt mirrors? And are there girls?"
"Good heavens, Mrs. Meade! Remember yourself!"
"But this is the only chance I've ever had to hear what a bad house looks like!" -- Leona Roberts, as Mrs. Meade, questioning Harry Davenport, as Dr. Meade, about his visit to Belle Watling's.
"And, Miz Wilkes, if you ever see me on the street, you -- you don't have to speak to me. I'll understand..."
"I shall be proud to speak to you. Proud to be under obligation to you. I hope -- I hope we meet again."
"No. That wouldn't be fittin' neither." -- Ona Munson, as Belle Watling, setting the limits of obligation for de Havilland.
"I can't go all my life waiting to catch you between husbands." -- Gable, proposing to Leigh.
"Ah ain' never thought ter say it 'bout none of Miss Ellen's blood, but Miss Scarlett ain' nuthin' but a mule in hawse harness. She give herseff airs lak a fine hawse, but she a mule jes' de same! An dat Butler man, he come of good stock an' he all slicked up lak a race hawse, but he a mule in hawse harness jes' lak her!" -- McDaniel, responding to Leigh and Gable's wedding.
"You get your strength from this red earth of Tara, Scarlett. You're part of it, and it's part of you." -- Gable to Leigh.
"Observe my hands, my dear. I could tear you to pieces with them -- and I'd do it, if it would take Ashley out of your mind. But it wouldn't. So I think I'll remove him from your mind forever, this way...I'll put my hands so, on each side of your head...And I'll smash your skull between them like a walnut...and that will block it out." -- Gable, trying to get into Leigh's mind.
"Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief." -- Gable, to Leigh.
"I want to see if somewhere there isn't something left in life of charm and grace." -- Gable, leaving Leigh.
"But, Rhett, if you go what shall I do? Where shall I go?"
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!" -- Leigh and Gable at their final parting.
"Tara! Home!...I'll go home -- and I'll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day!" -- Leigh, delivering the film's final line.
Compiled by Frank Miller
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Margaret Mitchell decided to turn her family's stories of the antebellum South, Civil War and Reconstruction into a novel when she was confined to her apartment after a 1926 accident left her with a broken ankle. Over three years, she hammered out 1,000 pages, but when her injury healed, she left the manuscript in a closet.
A friend of Mitchell's was working at The Macmillan Co. in New York and told Harold Latham about the manuscript on the eve of his trip to scout out new Southern writers. When Latham first mentioned it to Mitchell, she denied having written anything. Then her husband convinced her to let him look at it. A few days later, she got cold feet and tried to reclaim the work, but Latham was hooked and offered her a publishing deal.
Galleys began circulating in Hollywood before the publication date, but Mitchell's $100,000 asking price kept business slow. Jack Warner considered it as a vehicle for Bette Davis, but she walked out on her contract, and he passed. Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century-Fox, offered $35,000, but that wasn't enough. Universal rejected it because they were down on costume pictures, while Paramount had just scored a huge flop with another Civil War drama, So Red the Rose (1935). When offered the story as a vehicle for his wife, Norma Shearer, MGM producer Irving Thalberg said, "No Civil War picture ever made a nickel."
Independent producer David O. Selznick had already passed on the book, but his East Coast story editor, Katherine Brown, kept pushing for it. She finally spoke with Selznick International's board chairman, Jock Whitney, who threatened to buy the rights himself if Selznick didn't move on it.
Selznick's only serious competitor for the rights was RKO Pictures. Although they had initially passed, contract star Katharine Hepburn fought so determinedly to have them produce the picture as a vehicle for her they finally offered Mitchell $45,000. At Whitney's urging, Selznick topped their offer with $50,000, and Mitchell agreed. Before she signed the contract, RKO came back with an offer of $55,000, but she refused to break her word to Selznick.
The novel was a hit before it even arrived in stores in June 1936, selling 50,000 copies in advance. It stayed on the New York Times Best Seller List for 21 months and won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction.
Playwright Sidney Howard (They Knew What They Wanted) spent a year on the screenplay. Following Selznick's orders, he stayed as close to the book as possible, producing a script that would have taken up six hours of screen time. Sixteen different writers, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, tried to reduce the novel's sprawling narrative into a manageable screenplay.
Selznick hired his one-time protg, George Cukor, to direct. Cukor lobbied to cast his friend Hepburn as Scarlett, but Selznick did not feel she could embody the character as created by Mitchell. He also was beginning to realize that he might be better off hiring an unknown who would have no pre-existent image to compete with the character.
One area in which the book was not acclaimed was the black press, whose writers denounced it for racist language and a sugar-coated picture of life in the South. When Selznick started filming tests for the roles of Mammy and Prissy, word that the script had retained the novel's racist language got out, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) threatened a boycott. Selznick finally arranged a meeting with the nation's most influential black reporters at which he assured them that all offensive language would be removed from the script. He also cut any references to the Ku Klux Klan and a scene that seemed to justify lynching.
One of Selznick's most important hires behind the cameras was designer William Cameron Menzies, who supervised all of the film's visual elements. In addition to coordinating the work of several directors and other designers, he produced 2,500 sketches detailing set design, lighting, colors and camera angles.
With the book a runaway best seller, Selznick was deluged with mail suggesting ways to cast the film. Most writers stated that only Clark Gable could play Rhett Butler, and Selznick agreed. There was a wider field for the role of Scarlett, with Bette Davis pulling the plurality of the votes.
Gable, however, did not see himself in the role. He hated historical films, particularly since the box office failure of Parnell (1937). He also didn't think he was a good enough actor for the emotionally demanding part. In addition, the actor's home studio, MGM, was playing hardball about loaning him to Selznick for the film, even though MGM's production head, Louis B. Mayer, was Selznick's father-in-law
Selznick finally hammered out a deal with MGM. In return for distribution rights and half the profits, the studio would loan him Gable and put up $2.5 million toward the budget. MGM finally convinced Gable to take the role by offering to pay off his second wife, Ria Langham Gable, so he could divorce her and marry Carole Lombard.
Selznick wanted Warner Bros. starlet Olivia de Havilland for the role of Melanie, but Jack Warner refused the loan out until de Havilland got Warner's wife to intercede in her behalf.
For Ashley, Selznick tested several actors (including his wife's choice, Ray Milland), but kept coming back to British actor Leslie Howard. At 45, however, Howard felt he was too old for the part. Selznick finally offered him a shot at producing if he would play the role. The producing vehicle was Intermezzo (1939), in which he was already cast. Ultimately, Gone with the Wind would take up so much time that Howard wouldn't actually get to do any producing.
With no clear front runner among Hollywood actresses to play Scarlett, Selznick mounted a massive national talent hunt during which 1,400 candidates were interviewed and 90 screen tested at a cost of $92,000.
Among the established actresses to test for the role were Southern-born Miriam Hopkins and Tallulah Bankhead, who were both deemed too old. As a courtesy, Selznick offered the role to MGM's top female star, Norma Shearer, and, as a courtesy, she turned it down. Charles Chaplin's wife and protge, Paulette Goddard, came close to landing the role, but controversy over Chaplin's politics and whether or not they really were married concerned Selznick.
Other actresses who auditioned to play Scarlett included Lucille Ball, Joan Fontaine and Lana Turner.
Selznick briefly considered Judy Garland to play Scarlett's sister Careen before giving the role to another young MGM actress, Ann Rutherford.
Others considered for the film were Lillian Gish, to whom Selznick offered the roles of Mrs. O'Hara and Belle Watling; Maureen O'Sullivan, Mayer's choice to play Melanie; Elizabeth Taylor, whom one talent scout wanted to test for Bonnie Blue Butler; and Tallulah Bankhead, who turned down an offer to play Belle Watling after being rejected for the role of Scarlett. Selznick also considered casting Mae West as Belle Watling as a stunt.
Finally, Selznick had to go into production with the role of Scarlett uncast or risk losing Gable.
by Frank Miller
Gone With the Wind (1939)
Gone with the Wind grossed $945,000 in its first week; $14 million in its first year. By the end of its initial general release it had grossed $32 million, a record that would hold until The Sound of Music became the all-time top grosser in 1965. With ticket sales since 1939 translated into contemporary dollars, it is the world's all-time box-office champion, taking in over $3.3 billion dollars.
"Gone with the Wind opens a new film era. It has everything a great picture could have. It has everything that everybody wanted." -- Lee Rogers, The Atlanta Constitution.
"...we cannot get over the shock of not being disappointed..." -- Frank Nugent, the New York Times.
"Gone with the Wind -- Magnificent and Supreme Triumph of Film History." -- Headline in the Hollywood Reporter.
"Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew seems to have got mixed up with one of the novels of Ethel M. Dell" - James Agee.
"A major event in the history of the industry but only a minor event in motion picture art. There are moments when the two categories meet on good terms, but the long stretches between are filled with mere spectacular efficiency." -- Franz Hoellering, The Nation.
"The picture is too long, and the final adventures of the Southern wench could have been abbreviated considerably. But it is a movie version of a novel, fantastic in scope, extraordinary in detail, played better than any movie I've ever seen, and more colossal, stupendous, gigantic, and terrific than any picture ever has been, without at any time seeming pretentious. If I go on any longer, I might as well go to work for MGM." - Pare Lorenz, McCall's, March 1940.
"The best part of this colossal epic is the Battle of Atlanta, depicted in all its horrors. The film's real director is its producer, David O. Selznick, rather than the unimaginative Victor Fleming, or even George Cukor or Sam Wood, who worked on the film for a while until they were fired." - Georges Sadoul, Dictionary of Films (University of California Press).
"In the desire apparently to leave nothing out, Selznick has left too much in. As in the book, the most effective portions of the saga of the destroyed South deal with human incident against the background of the war between the states and the impact of honorable defeat to the Southern forces." - Variety Movie Guide (Prentice Hall).
"..Gone with the Wind still compels admiration even while its weaknesses are acknowledged. The issues of the American Civil War are treated with naivety and the use of TECHNICOLOR is often self-consciously aesthetic; but the prodigal use of spectacle is impressive, particularly in the famous Atlanta scenes which deserve their place in film history. It is a prime example of the 'designed' film, with every other consideration subordinated to the lavish sets and costumes." - The Oxford Companion to Film (Oxford University Press).
"What more can one say about this much-loved, much discussed blockbuster? It epitomizes Hollywood at its most ambitious (not so much in terms of art, but of middlebrow, respectable entertainment served up on a polished platter); it's inevitably racist, alarmingly sexist (Scarlett's submissive smile after marital rape), nostalgically reactionary (wistful for a vanished, supposedly more elegant and honourable past), and often supremely entertaining." - Geoff Andrew, TimeOut Movie Guide (Penguin).
"It's a gorgeous film - it's exciting just to watch characters in their lavish costumes, or the fiery red skies that often serve as the backgrounds, or shots of the Tara plantation...Film defies criticism. Suffice it to say that Leigh and Gable are perfect in their roles. They are witty, dramatic, dynamic, glamorous, and boy can they kiss." - Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Fireside).
"...I made a deal with the movie: I would never forget its racist subtext. But I would also keep in mind that watching GWTW and worrying about its civil rights and wrongs was useless. It was like evaluating Lawrence of Arabia  solely in terms of its Arab stereotypes. I could still love it even though it reduced an entire group of people to colorful savages...It is indeed a monument to "a civilization gone with the wind" - the 1930s as much as the 1860s. Enduring and immutable, it is what movies are all about. Not a grande dame, as I once thought, but a grand illusion. Perhaps the grandest illusion of them all." - Eleanor Ringel, The A List (Da Capo Press).
AWARDS & HONORS
Vivien Leigh won the New York Film Critics Award for Best Actress. Gone with the Wind narrowly missed out on the group's Best Picture award. After several ballots, however, the honor went to Wuthering Heights (1939).
Gone with the Wind set a record for Oscar® wins and nominations. It took eight awards, with 13 nominations, winning for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Interior Decoration and Best Editing. It also took a special technical Oscar® for Don Musgrave's "use of coordinated equipment", the Irving G. Thalberg Award for producer David O. Selznick and an honorary award to William Cameron Menzies for his use of color. Other nominations went to Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, the special effects, Max Steiner's score and the film's sound.
Because of the film's road-show release, Gone with the Wind was not considered for the National Board of Review's ten-best list until 1940, when it placed ninth behind The Grapes of Wrath.
Gone with the Wind was voted a place on the National Film Registry in 1989.
In 1989, it was voted the Favorite All-Time Motion Picture in the People's Choice Awards.
by Frank Miller & Jeff Stafford
Gone With the Wind (1939)
"Selznick's Folly" had become the nickname applied by cynics to Gone With the Wind (1939) while David O. Selznick's film version of Margaret Mitchell's sprawling epic of the Old South was still in production. But when the $4 million movie had its premiere on December 15, 1939, cynicism was swept aside by such reactions as The Hollywood Reporter's headline description: "Magnificent and Supreme Triumph of Film History." When Oscar nominees for one of the greatest years ever in American film were announced, Gone With the Wind dominated the likes of Stagecoach, The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Wuthering Heights, Ninotchka and Goodbye, Mr. Chips with an unprecedented 13 nominations.
When Oscar night came, Gone With the Wind continued to make history with eight wins, plus special awards to Selznick and production designer William Cameron Menzies. "What a wonderful thing, this benefit for David O. Selznick," Bob Hope cracked as he began his first year as master of ceremonies. The first two major awards for Gone With the Wind were not claimed by their winners. Selznick accepted for director Victor Fleming, explaining that he was ill. Screenwriter Sidney Howard, who had been killed in a tractor accident on his Massachusetts farm, became the first posthumous Oscar winner. When Y. Frank Freeman presented Selznick with the Best Picture award, the Southern-born Paramount executive cracked, "David, I never saw so many soldiers as were used in Gone With the Wind. Believe me, if the Confederate Army had had that many, we would have licked you damn Yankees."
Fay Bainter, announcing the winner for Best Supporting Actress, described the award as "a tribute to a country where people are free to honor noteworthy achievements regardless of creed, race or color." A big "Hallelujah!" rang from the lips of Hattie McDaniel, honored for her Mammy in Gone With the Wind. A disappointed Olivia de Havilland, also nominated in McDaniel's category, slipped into the Coconut Grove kitchen for some private tears before composing herself and returning to congratulate her co-star. In his final appearance at an Oscar ceremony, Spencer Tracy appeared to present Vivien Leigh with her Best Actress award for so memorably playing Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. Leigh ended her acceptance speech with special thanks to Tracy for coming straight from the hospital after two days of treatment for strep throat.
Gone With the Wind also won in the categories of Color Cinematography, Interior Decoration and Film Editing. But the movie's winning streak stopped with the Best Actor award. Clark Gable, nominated for the performance of his life as Rhett Butler, lost to Robert Donat for Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
Perfectionists are never happy, as publicist Russell Birdwell learned on his drive with Selznick to a celebration party. According to Selznick biographer Bob Thomas, the producer snapped to Birdwell, who had campaigned tirelessly for the Gone With the Wind awards, "I don't know why we didn't get the Best Actor award for Gable. Somewhere you failed. You didn't put on the proper campaign; otherwise, Clark Gable would have been sure to get it." After the devastated Birdwell failed to report to work for two days, Selznick called and admitted, "I was a pig. I worked so hard and waited so long, I got piggish and wanted everything." Source: Mason Wiley & Damien Bona, Inside Oscar, 1986.
Producer: David O. Selznick
Director: Victor Fleming, George Cukor (uncredited), Sam Wood (uncredited)
Screenplay: Sidney Howard, Ben Hecht (uncredited), David O. Selznick (uncredited), Jo Swerling (uncredited), John Van Druten (uncredited), from Margaret Mitchell novel
Production Design: William Cameron Menzies
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler
Cinematography: Ernest Haller, Ray Rennahan, Lee Garmes (uncredited)
Costume Design: Walter Plunkett
Editing: Hal C. Kern (supervising)
Original Music: Max Steiner, Adolph Deutsch (uncredited), Hugo Friedhofer (uncredited), Heinz Roemheld (uncredited)
Principal Cast: Clark Gable (Rhett Butler), Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara), Leslie Howard (Ashley Wilkes), Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton Wilkes), Hattie McDaniel (Mammy), Thomas Mitchell (Gerald O'Hara), Barbara O'Neil (Ellen O'Hara), Evelyn Keyes (Suellen O'Hara), Ann Rutherford (Careen O'Hara), George Reeves (Stuart Tarleton), Fred Crane (Brent Tarleton), Oscar Polk (Pork), Butterfly McQueen (Prissy), Victor Jory (Jonas Wilkerson), Ona Munson (Belle Watling), Cammie King (Bonnie Blue Butler).
C-222m. Closed captioning. Descriptive Video.
by Roger Fristoe