Gone With The Wind (1939)

*sqweeeeeee* "Oh Excuse me!"
No fart jokes, honest

Genre: War Romance Drama Epic

Starring: Vivien Leigh (A Streetcar Named DesireAnna Karenina), Clark Gable (It Happened One NightMutiny On The Bounty)

Directed By: Victor Fleming (Captains CourageousThe Wizard of Oz)

Overview: This is the epic American classic that takes us through the south during the civil war and it's reformation. We see the whirlwind life of the strong-willed Scarlet O'Hara as well as her love affair with Rhett Butler, a rich if unscrupulous man.

The other critics of the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die Club are all in agreement. Gone With the Wind is more than an epic film, it's a true definition of larger-than-life cinema, and after a viewing there is no doubt that it has earned its place as top grossing movie ever. Of course it comes as no surprise that today it still sits proudly as one of IMDb's top 250 films, at number 157 to be exact, as well as being number 4 on AFI's Favorite Movies Of The Last 100 Years, right between The Godfather and Lawrence Of Arabia. With the Academy Awards for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Director, and, of course, best film under its belt, Gone With The Wind doesn't really need an argument for a watch or yet another rewatch. This epic film is as classic as they get. Rather than going into the plot of the turgid love affair between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, which you most likely know already, I thought I'd talk about how Gone With The Wind holds up today and the milestones it achieved, most notably in the form of Hattie McDaniel.

Tara? Don't you know that they've been fighting all day around Tara? Do you think you can parade right through the Yankee army with a sick woman, a baby and simply minded darkie? Or do you intend leaving them behind? - Rhett Butler

What I find most interesting about Gone With the Wind is how well it holds up for sheer dramatic value, especially as it pertains to impropriety and the soiled 'family values' extolled by Rhett and Scarlett. Add dialogue like the one quoted above and you find scenes that a writer couldn't get away with today unless his name was Tarantino. Scarlett is more than a fiery character. She's violent, disgraceful, and as unscrupulous as the Rhett Butler she pines for and suffers with. In context of the era they live in, the audience feels the shame that Scarlett should feel but ignores. In context of today looking back at the mores of 1939, while watching scenes where blacks act and speak in a most stereotypical uneducated manner, are routinely called darkies and even beaten, it's an engrossing gander into the past. 

Speaking of civil right milestones, let us move on to the 12th Annual Academy awards. Hattie McDaniel was the first African American to be nominated for an Oscar, in 1940. She was more than overjoyed at becoming the first African American Oscar winner for her supporting role as Mammy, the slave house servant to Scarlett O'Hara. Although Hattie went onstage and made an eloquent speech of thanks, special guest that she was, she and her husband spent that magical evening at the Ambassador Hotel in the segregated 'Blacks Only' ballroom. 

In case you weren't sure, Mammy's the one on the RIGHT.

 In case you weren't sure, Mammy's the one on the RIGHT.

Performance: 9 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 8 Mood: 9

Overall Rating: 86% (Don't Let This One Drift Away)

It would be 51 years after Hattie McDaniel that another black woman would win an Oscar for best Supporting Actress, and that was Woopi Goldberg for Ghost. Unfortunately, the Oscar that Hattie donated to Howard University has long ago been lost, though Hattie McDaniel was honoured by Mo'Nique at the 2009 Oscar night, who wore the gift of a gardenia in her hair, when accepting her Best Supporting Actress award for Precious, just as Hattie had done 70 years before.

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