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Gone with the Wind

Drama movie directed by George Cukor, Sam Wood, and Victor Fleming

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Spectacular Entertainment

  • Jul 10, 2003
I have probably seen all or part of this film on more than a dozen occasions but not for several years until I recently checked it out in DVD format. The production values have never looked more vivid. The scope of the story and the scale of telling it are truly epic. The performances by Clark Gable and Leslie Howard are as impressive as ever. A number of supporting actors are first-rate. A number of scenes have retained their visual impact. And yet....I now think this highly praised film (ranked #4 by the American Film Institute among "America's Greatest Movies") has lost much of its impact.

For whatever reasons, the acting by Vivian Leigh and Olivia de Havilland now seems to me contrived. Rhett Butler's devotion to Scarlett is inexplicable. De Havilland's portrayal suggests that Melanie Hamilton is too good to be true, and therefore isn't. Thomas ("Burning Ham") Mitchell portrays Gerald O'Hara as a cartoon character. When Sidney Howard's screenplay shifts its attention to social issues, I suspect that his muse was Harriet Beecher Stowe. To an extent I did not realize before, this film glorifies (almost deifies) a way of life which justified slavery as a state's right (i.e. the ruling class's right). Even benevolent despotism is still despotism.

On the subject of entitlement, producer David O'Selznick and director Victor Fleming obviously had every right to create a film based on Margaret Mitchell's bloated and sentimental novel. If they wish to suggest in this film that to many slaves, loyalty to their owners was more important freedom from bondage, so be it. Their movie. However, as Voltaire observed, great is the enemy of the good...and, I presume to add, an even more formidable enemy of the mediocre. Gone With the Wind offers great spectacle and a few brilliant performances as well as several credible performances and an occasional chuckle. But overall, it is emphatically not the great film I once thought it was. The film hasn't changed so obviously I have.

Some may think it unfair to be critical of a film released more than 60 years ago. I respectfully submit that many films released since then have raised the standards of measurement. They have redefined what greatness is. (Most of them are on the AFI's list.) Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect an historical film lasting almost four hours (222 minutes to be exact) to hold up. Audiences which first saw it in 1939 are obviously quite different from those which see it now. Nonetheless, our nation fought one war to obtain certain inalienable rights and another was fought to ensure that the same rights are extended to everyone in our nation. Any film which claims to portray American history must be subject to the same scrutiny which a book would be if making the same claim. As for matters of aesthetics, judgment is necessarily much more subjective. For reasons indicated, I think that Gone With the Wind offers neither circumspect history nor great art but will always be praised (and rightly) so as spectacular entertainment.

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More Gone with the Wind reviews
review by . July 18, 2012
You've probably run into one of the many iconic posters of Gone with the Wind, so you recognize the scene: The two main characters, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, locked in passionate embrace, staring deep into each other's eyes. You might know the last few scenes, in which Scarlett repeatedly tells Rhett how much she loves him and tries to keep him from leaving her. "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." "Tomorrow is another day!" And certainly, those who haven't seen the movie believe that …
review by . August 27, 2004
Pros: characters and costumes     Cons: .......     The Bottom Line: ___________     Women in love and men toting guns, that’s what movies are about and Gone With The Wind is no exception. I’ve heard a lot of people say this was one of the most successful movies ever made, don’t know, coulda been.       Gone With The Wind became a big fat epic that I don’t think people expected. It came out in what - …
review by . August 13, 1999
posted in Movie Hype
Is this a great movie? Absolutely!!! Maybe the acting isn't the greatest, its a one-sided view of history, and we all know that Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable didn't like each other. But oh, the spectacle! The story! The dresses! It is an unforgettable movie, and one which will never fade as an all time favourite. And anyone who calls themselves a movie buff, or someone who just wants to lose themselves in another world for some 4 hours, cannot go by this as great entertainment.
review by . November 23, 1998
How to begin? The movie is just fabulous. It is well cast, quite faithful to the book (important to someone who counts the book as a favourite among many) and it captures the tragic love story of Scarlett and Rhett very well. An excellent few hours escapism, and an interesting insight into the early years of Hollywood's block busters.
About the reviewer
Robert Morris ()
Ranked #74
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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About this movie


David O. Selznick wantedGone with the Windto be somehow more than a movie, a film that would broaden the very idea of what a film could be and do and look like. In many respects he got what he worked so hard to achieve in this 1939 epic (and all-time box-office champ in terms of tickets sold), and in some respects he fell far short of the goal. While the first half of this Civil War drama is taut and suspenseful and nostalgic, the second is ramshackle and arbitrary. But there's no question that the film is an enormous achievement in terms of its every resource--art direction, color, sound, cinematography--being pushed to new limits for the greater glory of telling an American story as fully as possible. Vivien Leigh is still magnificently narcissistic, Olivia de Havilland angelic and lovely, Leslie Howard reckless and aristocratic. As for Clark Gable: we're talking one of the most vital, masculine performances ever committed to film.--Tom Keogh
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Movies, Drama Movies, Dramas, Classic Movies, clark gable, Civil War Movies, Vivien Leigh


Genre: Drama
Runtime: 233 minutes
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
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