Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Gone With the Wind in Theaters NOW!


Although seventy-five years have passed since its release, Gone With the Wind still thrills hearts everywhere.  And now its coming back to the big screen!  Select cities across the country are showing the movie, fully remastered, on Sunday, September 28th and/or Wednesday, October 1st.  With sixteen showings in Wisconsin alone, odds are good that it'll be in a town near you!  Click here for details on the re-release and here for theater locations and showtimes. 

I've been watching GWTW since I was a young girl.  I remember thinking it was much too long to sit through, having to split up the movie over several school nights, but the costumes kept bringing me back.  I can quote almost every line;  I know every expression, every turn of the head, every sniffle of fiddle-dee-dee.

Once you've got the movie securely in your pocket, you naturally delve into all the behind-the-scenes facts about the actors, the costuming, the sets and production notes. 

Much has been written and researched on the movie.  Leslie Howard thought he was too old to play Ashley Wilkes and dreaded the thought of portraying another weak, introspective character.  To secure his role, producer David Selznick promised Howard a more robust role opposite Ingrid Bergman in which he would not only star but also co-produce (Intermezzo).

Clark Gable wasn't thrilled with the script either and lacked confidence in his sex appeal.  Seriously?  But what really sealed the deal for him was a generous "bonus" graciously given by MGM.  Using this money, Gable was able to pay off his first wife, who was holding out for a hefty divorce settlement, and go on to marry Carole Lombard.  After a two day honeymoon, Gable was on set.

The movie garnered thirteen Academy nominations and won ten of those, including Best Picture, Director, Actress (Vivien Leigh), Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction and Film Editing.  Hattie McDaniel, who portrayed Mammy, was the first African-American to win an Academy award, beating out Olivia de Havilland who was nominated in the same category.  Sadly though McDaniel, along with the other black actors, was barred from the Atlanta premiere in December 1939 and had to sit at a separate table during the Academy Awards ceremony held several months later.

Vivien Leigh was virtually unknown before this role, and was in fact not cast until several weeks into filming.  She was on set more than any other actor and the grueling production schedule took its toll on her.  Of course, her costumes were as diverse as they were gorgeous.  Who can forget the green, ruffled barbeque dress, the fringed, drapery dress or the stunning burgundy velvet number she wears to Ashley's birthday party?  But for a large part of the movie, she wears a simple cotton day dress.  Several versions of this were made to show the wear and tear over time.  The final dress was actually sewn with the wrong side of the fabric facing out for maximum faded effect.

The Burning of Atlanta scene was actually the first scene filmed.   The back lot at MGM Studios had to be cleared of several old sets, including one from the 1933 film, King Kong, starring Fay Wray.  All the old sets were set up and burned down as Rhett Butler lead the wagon past the destruction.  Incidentally, Vivien Leigh was not yet cast and a stand-in actress was playing Scarlett's role in the wagon seat.

During the wide-angled scene at the railroad yard, half the wounded Confederate soldiers were dummies, moving only with the aid of the live actors next to them.  During the Atlanta premiere, one elderly soldier was reported to have said, "If we'd had that many men, we'd have won the war!"

Gone With the Wind was the only novel ever written by Margaret Mitchell.  She was reluctant to hand over the manuscript, thinking it wasn't good enough, but she wrote about the South as she knew it, the South as it was in her childhood, a breed of people and a way of life that died with the Civil War.  And even today, I thrill at the thought of seeing this brought to life on the big screen.  I'll be glued to that theater seat for every minute of those four hours because frankly, my dear, I do give a damn!


  1. exiting!
    i first saw it as an adult (of cause) and was still very very impressed. then i read the book. and saw the movie again. its a complete different world. and i love clark gable as rhett butler - rrrhhhh :-)
    thank you for sharing the background infos with us!

  2. I love that movie. They made a second movie ( Years later for TV ),but it wasn't good.


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