Monday, December 15, 2014

75th Anniversary

I heard on the radio that today is the 75th anniversary of the film premiere of Gone With The Wind. The film used to be among my top ten favorites. I always preferred the book to the film (which is usual for me.) There is so much more detail, so much more history, so many more memorable characters in the book than in the film.

Despite my preference for the book, the film has much to offer. The scene in which Scarlett is searching for Doctor Meade among the dead and dying Confederate solders is beautifully shot. Another beautiful (though problematical) is a quick shot near the beginning of the film: two small slave boys rotate a giant bell to signify quitting time for the field hands. I love all the Twelve Oak barbecue scenes; they provide an overview of antebellum society among the plantation owners.

The acting is quite good. While I don't think Leslie Howard looks like the Ashley of the book, Howard does a decent job. Similarly, Olivia de Haviland is too strong-looking for the slim, child-like Melanie, but her performance makes up for the physical discrepancies.

I read somewhere that Margaret Mitchell pictured Basil Rathbone as Rhett. That would have been an intriguing choice. I haven't read the book in several years, but I do think Rhett is described as bigger than Rathbone. It could be that I just see Clark Gable in the part. Fan magazine polls at the time would not accept anyone but Gable.

Let's finish up the main cast by reviewing Vivian Leigh. She deservedly won her first Oscar for this role. But she was classically beautiful. In the book's first lines, Scarlett was described as not beautiful. But you forget that because of her charm. I watched screen tests of Paulette Goddard; I think she could have been a great Scarlett.

It's harder for me to watch the film than it used to be. (That is the topic of a post that I started in 2012.) I appreciate the positive qualities of the film, but now watch it more critically. That's the point of the other privileged post.

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