Monday, December 29, 2014


“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

This month marks the 75th anniversary of GONE WITH THE WIND. 

Based on the 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Margaret Mitchell, GONE WITH THE WIND captured headlines long before the film ever hit cinemas in December of 1939. Long before social media, paparazzi, and 24-hour news channels would hunt down information on an upcoming film, the production of GONE WITH THE WIND generated an astonishing buzz around Hollywood and the country…mostly over the casting of the main characters. The amount of interest before filming began was the first mark the film would make in history. 

Set in the 19th century American-South, GONE WITH THE WIND tells the story of the fiery Scarlett O’Hara, the strong willed-daughter of a plantation owner, and her romances which would include the handsome Rhett Butler. The public’s interest would focus on these two vital characters. The now-famed “search for Scarlett” led to 1,400 women to be interviewed for the part; a staggering number which would include big names such as Joan Crawford and Katharine Hepburn. The role would go to the stunningly beautiful Vivien Leigh, who had only made a few films up to that point. The role of Rhett would go to fan-favorite Clark Gable, who already had two Oscar nominations for Best Actor under his belt. 

Filming would be delayed for two years while producer David O. Selznick made sure Clark Gable was able to do the film. The original screenplay went through hundreds of revisions before settling in on an acceptable length, and the original director, George Cukor, was fired shortly after filming began. He would be replaced by Victor Fleming, who had just wrapped up production on THE WIZARD OF OZ. 

The story would be told from the perspective of white southerners in which plantation slaves are portrayed as “happy”, an issue which would generate controversy from day one and would come up again 74 years later when the Oscar-winning 12 YEARS A SLAVE would hit theatres. Again, a testament to how GONE WITH THE WIND was ahead of its time. 

GONE WITH THE WIND was an enormous success that year. Even though it was the longest and most expensive film of its time (made for a cost of $3.85 million), it would win the box office that year and would eventually be the all-time champion even after adjusting for inflation. It would receive a record 13 Oscar nominations, winning eight, including Best Film, Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), director (Victor Fleming), and perhaps most importantly…Hattie McDaniel would become the very first African-American to win an Oscar (Best Supporting Actress). Victor Fleming’s one-two punch of GONE WITH THE WIND and THE WIZARD OF OZ would make him the only director to have two movies in the Top 10 of the American Film Institute’s (AFI) prestigious 100 Movies list. GONE WITH THE WIND was placed in the National Film Registry in 1989, and it often appears on any publication’s Best All-time lists. 


This Blogger’s first exposure to GONE WITH THE WIND came as a wee-lad, when hours were spent looking at mom’s glorious original vinyl pressing of the soundtrack: 

Leafing through the pages of that publication brought on an early awareness of the scope and magnitude of mom’s favorite movie. Years later in college, an important lesson was learned in a literature class, when the professor taught us how Margaret Mitchell began writing the novel; she started by writing the ending first. It would be an approach that this Blogger would use for the rest of his life when beginning a new project. 

And later, GONE WITH THE WIND would continue to astound this Blogger when he discovered the influence the film’s main characters and artwork had on a certain far away galaxy: 

So GONE WITH THE WIND has been in this Blogger’s life since nearly day one, and will continue to have a presence; not only as a family favorite but in deep respect for the power of film. GONE WITH THE WIND is majestic and powerful, and is intimate enough for anyone to relate to. For 75 years it has inspired and put us in awe, and will continue to do so for much longer. 

“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 all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.”

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