“Gone with the Wind” Celebrates 75th Anniversary
As Scarlett O’Hara might say: Fiddledeedee. On December 15, the first initial release of “Gone with the Wind,” will mark the 75th anniversary of the epic film, which stars Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland (fun fact: de Havilland is still alive today at the graceful age of 98).
Based off of the book written by Margaret Mitchell, “Gone with the Wind” tells the tale of the old South during the Civil War. Scarlett O’Hara (Leigh), a quick-witted and strong-willed woman, romantically pursues Ashley Wilkes (Howards) in the hopes of finding pure happiness and bliss. Along the way, she faces the struggles of starvation, homelessness, lack of economic security, and the death of those close to her. Pursuing Scarlett’s heart is the cool and collective Rhett Butler (Gable), and taking the brunt of Scarlett’s jealousy is Ashley Wilkes’ wife Melanie Hamilton (de Havilland). In a short conclusion, the story itself is an epic romantic drama that simply exists within the hardships of the Civil War Era where slaves are aplenty and the sympathy for the Confederacy is clearly present.
Originally released in 1939, the Atlanta premiere garnered over a million people, and today, adjusted for inflation, it has sold more tickets than any other film. In further emphasis, “Gone with the Wind” has sold $1.6 billion dollars worth in tickets and more than $3 billion worldwide. This beats the recent blockbusters “Avatar” and “Star Wars.”
If “Gone with the Wind” is known for anything, it is clearly known for being one of the longest films ever made, standing with a running time at 226 minutes. Today it is the fourth longest movie among mainstream English-language movies.
The casting and screen tests for “Gone with the Wind” were drastic and intense. 32 actresses had the privilege of getting screen tests for the role of Scarlett O’Hara. The final four actresses that were left to fend for the role were Jean Arthur, Paulette Goddard, Joan Bennett, and Vivien Leigh. In early screen tests, it is quite apparent that the attitude and mentality of Scarlett was captured in Vivien Leigh with Paulette Goddard capturing the looks and physicality of the character, but lacked the right deliverance of speech.
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The movie also went through rough changes at the directorial position. Originally directed by Victor Fleming, “Gone with the Wind” went through five different directors. George Cukor, and Sam Wood were both directors before Fleming, but were subsequently fired a few weeks after shooting their take for the film. Each new director had to re-shoot multiple scenes to fit their vision of the film.
“Gone with the Wind” was nominated for 13 Oscars at the 12th Academy Awards in 1940 and went home with eight, including two honorary. The film won Best Picture, Best Actress (Leigh), Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography (color), Best Film Editing, and Best Director (Fleming).
The biggest winner of all, though, that night belonged to Hattie McDonald, who portrayed Mammy, the O’Hara’s sharp and sassy maid, whom won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. This was a monumental feat, as McDonald became the first African-American actress to win an Academy Award, long before the civil rights era began in the United States. Many have credited McDonald’s acting and Oscar win as a reason to why “Gone with the Wind” has been able to remain a classic film throughout the decades.
Well known among the older generation, “Gone with the Wind” continues to garner new fans every year as it is considered one of the greatest films ever made. Although some view the issue of slavery in the film to be glorified, many understand that the film itself is not a dedicated movie that secures itself within the issues of slavery, politics, and the civil war. Instead, the movie has been appreciated for its top-notch acting, screenplay, legendary dedication to the book, and its ability to resonate the struggles that Scarlett faces throughout the duration of the movie. At this point, “Gone with the Wind” has fastened itself into a legendary status that can proclaim this to those that denounce it as boring, long and old: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
*Video from MOVIE Channel*