Gone with the Wind

Movie Information

The Hendersonville Film Society will show part one of Gone with the Wind at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
Score:

Genre: Romantic Historical Drama
Director: Victor Fleming (and Sam Wood and George Cukor)
Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard, Hattie McDaniel, Thomas Mitchell
Rated: NR

Is there anything left to be said about Gone with the Wind? It’s still the big film of 1939. Last I knew, it had still been seen by more people than any other movie ever made, and, when prices are adjusted, it’s still the all-time money-maker. Owing to the fact that it was withheld from TV for so long and was so often re-issued, it has almost certainly been seen in theaters by more people still living than any other old film. (That it has mostly been seen substantially cropped on screens designed for wide-screen formats since the mid-1950s is another issue.) It’s thought of as a Civil War epic, but really it’s a classy four-hour soap opera about a couple of folks with really lousy timing set against the Civil War and Reconstruction Era as flashy backdrop. It’s also the ultimate in corporate moviemaking. It all feels tried, tested and market-researched within an inch of its life to a point that it hardly matters who directed it. The only discernible presence behind the camera—apart from producer David O. Selznick—is production designer William Cameron Menzies. His fingerprints are all over Gone with the Wind, and so much about the film that has become iconic has more to do with him than anyone else—except the stars. I don’t think it’s a great film, but I do think it’s one hell of a movie—if you accept that distinction. There are moments—starting with the manner in which the main title appears on the screen—that are thrilling in the simple fact that they’re so obviously “special” in one way or another. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing it as part of their Civil War commemoration, and due to its length, they’re running it in two parts—which would’ve pleased my father, who always felt it would be fine if it ended at the intermission.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

8 thoughts on “Gone with the Wind

  1. Ken Hanke

    Actually, I don’t think I am. It’s not a film — or even a type of film — I tend to like. I don’t even own a copy and I can’t think that I’ve seen it more than maybe five times (I can recall for sure two theatrical showings and one university one) between first seeing it in 1965 and now. But it has an importance — not entirely in a good way — that I find it impossible to deny.

  2. arlened

    Your father was a very wise man.

    I have never seen it one a big screen. And I have rarely sat through it in one looooong piece. but everyone needs to see it once.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I kind of think you need to see it more than once. It may not change, but unless you’re very, very odd, you do over the years. I think I’m due for one more look before I hand in my dinner pail — but not just yet.

  4. DrSerizawa

    I had to sit through it in the theater when I was about 8 years old. Man, that was torture. The only other time I saw it was on TV (TNT?). Anyhow it was still pretty boring but I sat through it because of it’s stature just to see if I was high class enough to “get” it. Well, the ending is a total cop out and I didn’t “get” it and so I guess I’m not high class. Sorry. I’m more of a Seven Samurai kind of guy. Now THERE’s an epic that I’ve seen more than a half dozen times and loved it more each time.

    There’s no doubt that GWTW is an impressive piece of movie making. Look at how many people it sings to. And I can see why people love it. I’m really not complaining. After all I’ve watched 2001 several times and haven’t found it boring though I’d bet most GWTW lovers would be bored to tears. Different strokes as they say.

  5. Ken Hanke

    I hardly think that “getting” GWTW is a barometer of high classness. I can think of few things on earth more middle-brow.

  6. Michael OFarrell

    I saw GWTW in March of 1961 during its Civil War Centennial re-release. I was 12 at the time and thought it was the greatest film I had seen up to that point. I’m 62 now and half a century later my view of it has changed but I still find it an impressive piece of filmmaking in the grand old Hollywood tradition. I agree with the Mr. Hanke that much of the film’s success is due to producer Selznick and William Cameron Menzie’s production design. However, it’s hard to ignore other vital contributions (Leigh’s brilliant performance heading a great cast ; superb cinematography – 3 strip Technicolor being relatively new back then ; Max Steiner’s magnificent music score). Of course all this was channeled through Selznick’s producing genius. I’ve seen GWTW countless times since and it never fails to impress me. It was the Super Production of 1939. Yes, it’s dated in many ways now but it will always remain a unique production in Hollywood’s History.

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