Gone With the Wind (1939)
Reviewed on 2012 November 27
I’ve seen Scarlett O’Hara described as an “iron-willed woman” in other reviews of this movie, and that doesn’t begin to describe Margaret Mitchell’s famous heroine. It’s rare a movie can bring its characters to life so vividly, but this was a masterpiece.
Katy Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) is the caricature of a Southern Belle; we’re introduced to her wrapping men around her little finger at a barbecue. This shindig is at Twelve Oaks, the plantation owned by the Wilkes clan. Scarlett flirts with all the men, but she has eyes only for Ashley Wilkes (Lesley Howard). Ashley is betrothed to Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland), a sweet natured and infinitely patient woman, tolerant even of devious creatures like Scarlett. Scarlett couldn’t care less. She wants to marry Ashley and that’s that.
Scarlett is so fixated on Ashley, the huge O’Hara plantation her daddy named Tara, and her own awesomeness in general, that she has little attention left for either the pending Civil War, or for the handsome stranger who’s fascinated with her. Another guest at the party, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), is smitten with the tempestuous Scarlett, liking her even more when he sees she’s not the typical lady-like antebellum woman. As sharp as she is otherwise, Scarlett can’t see that this man would be perfect for her if she tried to make it work. For the time being, this falls by the wayside as the Civil War erupts.
I make frequent jokes in my reviews about epic versus EPIC. The American Film Institute considers this one of the greats in the genre “epic”. It truly is. The lush cinematography and quality of the film make it hard to believe it debuted in 1939. The acting was top-notch, the setting incredible, and Vivien Leigh was Scarlett. I don’t know how someone as shrewd as Scarlett could bypass a Clark Gable for a Lesley Howard, giving myself and millions of ladies watching this thing a resounding “D’Oh!”, but that’s a minor issue.
Four chocolate morsels.