SF Examiner Review
"Gone' is back again - classic soap
Latest re-release offers enhanced color, digital sound
Credit: SF Examiner
"GONE WITH THE WIND" was a mad dream in producer David Selznick's brain and he turned it into one of the great soap operas of cinema history. The last re-release celebrated the film's 50th anniversary in 1989. This time, the three-hour and 42-minute epic has been remastered in digital sound and the color has been tinkered with to bring back the original Technicolor glory.
The movie plays its role in movie history, becoming one of the great box-office performers in the pre-Steven Spielberg and George Lucas days. The search to find Selznick's ideal Scarlett O'Hara, the willful Southern belle who would destroy several Southern gentlemen in pursuit of the man she loved but who didn't love her, was the talk of Hollywood.
Bette Davis, Paulette Goddard, Jennifer Jones, Katharine Hepburn and many others failed to capture the showcase role that would go to British stage actress and girlfriend of Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh.
The sexual tension and humorous byplay between Leigh and co-star Clark Gable, in the role of gentleman rogue Rhett Butler, was riveting. And so was Leigh's portrayal of a viper trying to consume the good-hearted Ashley Wilkes, embodied by the fine-boned Hungarian-turned-British actor, Leslie Howard.
Victor Fleming was the accredited director of the picture, and he won the best-director Academy Award for it, but George Cukor worked on "Gone With the Wind" (he was fired after 10 days into filming), and so did many others. Selznick was as hands-on a producer as ever there was, so his imprint is seared in the final product. Selznick is said to have used 15 writers but to have written and directed key scenes himself.
Although the picture is responsible for fostering many unpleasant racial biases in its depiction of the slaves working at Tara, the O'Hara estate, and Twelve Oaks, the Wilkes' place, the movie also has the virtue of featuring some of the great black performers of the time, including the memorable Hattie McDaniel.
Some of the wonderful scenes to look for include Scarlett's throwing herself at the polite Ashley and then learning that Rhett has heard the whole embarrassing thing, the burning of Atlanta, the sequence leading to the birth of Melanie's child and Scarlett's plucky seamstress work with the drapes.
If you've never seen this on the big screen, you are in for a treat.