Gone With the Wind

"Essential"

Gone With the Wind Review


One of the classic films that defined American cinema, Gone With the Wind is a rare example of a collaboration involving hundreds of talents and egos that turned out great. Dozens of uncredited screenwriters (including F. Scott Fitzgerald, briefly) and hundreds of actors were marshaled by David O. Selznick for this effort. The resulting four-hour epic is, inflation-adjusted, still the highest-grossing movie of all time -- and it deserves to be. For millions of people, Gone With the Wind has helped to define the myth and reality of America's most tragic (and much-misunderstood) period of history, the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Margaret Mitchell's bestselling novel was the most successful period romance novel of all time, a combination of historical detail and soap that drew from family recollections of the war and its aftermath. The novel's popularity allowed the filmmakers to be confident of success, but still, Selznick spent more time and money, and took more risks, than could have been expected. The requisite attention was paid to costumes and sets, of course. More important, the film's visual effects -- especially the burning of Atlanta and the smoking ruins of the Georgia plantations after Sherman's pillage -- are the most effective and memorable that had been attempted at that time.

The most impressive thing about this epic, though, is that it uses all the extra screen time to inform us about the personal lives of its characters. This is where most epics fall short. Nowadays any period drama with a lots of horses and explosions gets called an "epic," but Gone With the Wind deserves the label -- because it presents enough detail to be a facsimile of reality. It also presents some rough subject matter (very rough for the time, including rape, prostitution and, of course, slavery) without wallowing in it.

Acting is actually not the film's strongest suit, and most of the characters have weaknesses that make them hard to like. When Gable walks out on Leigh at the end, we care less than we're probably supposed to. But partly that is because the personal mistakes of the characters are necessarily dwarfed by the sweep of history, and the catastrophes, that the film bears witness to.

The new Collector's Edition DVD set features four discs and a wealth of extras, including a commentary track from historian Rudy Behlmer, the documentary The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind, newsreels and international errata, and a selection of documentary shorts and profiles. If you're a fan, you'll kill yourself if you don't purchase this box set.



Gone With the Wind

Facts and Figures

Run time: 238 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 17th January 1940

Box Office Worldwide: $400.2M

Budget: $4M

Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Production compaines: Selznick International Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 69 Rotten: 4

IMDB: 8.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: David O. Selznick

Starring: as Scarlett O'Hara, as Rhett Butler, as Melanie Hamilton, as Gerald O'Hara, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes, Barbara O'Neil as Ellen O'Hara, as Suellen O'Hara, as Carreen O'Hara, as Stuart Tarleton, as Brent Tarleton, as Mammy, as Pork, as Prissy, Marcella Martin as Cathleen Calvert, as Dr. Meade, Leona Roberts as Mrs. Meade, Cammie King as Bonnie Blue Butler, Eric Linden as Amputation Case, J. M. Kerrigan as Johnny Gallagher, as Tom - Yankee Captain, Jackie Moran as Phil Meade, as Reminiscent Soldier, Lillian Kemble-Cooper as Bonnie's Nurse in London, Yakima Canutt as Renegade, Louis Jean Heydt as Hungry Soldier Holding Beau Wilkes, Mickey Kuhn as Beau Wilkes, Olin Howland as A Carpetbagger Businessman, as Corporal, Robert Elliott as Yankee Major, William Bakewell as Mounted Officer, as Maybelle Merriwether, Ona Munson as Belle Watling, as Mrs. Merriwether, as Emmy Slattery, Paul Hurst as Yankee Deserter, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson as Uncle Peter - Her Coachman (as Eddie Anderson), as Aunt 'Pittypat' Hamilton, Carroll Nye as Frank Kennedy - Guest, Rand Brooks as Charles Hamilton - Her Brother, Alicia Rhett as India - His Daughter, Howard C. Hickman as John Wilkes (as Howard Hickman), Everett Brown as Big Sam - Field Foreman, as Jonas Wilkerson - Field Overseer

Also starring:

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