Gone with the Wind (1939)
Release Date: December 15,1939
George Cukor (uncredited)
Sam Wood (uncredited)
Olivia De Havilland
Available on DVD and Blu Ray in a 70th Anniversary Edition
Check out the weekly 75th Anniversary celebration feature: Gone with the Wednesdays
Still seventy years later heralded “the greatest movie ever made”, Gone with the Wind singlehandedly guaranteed Gable’s immortality to movie goers for decades to come. He is the dashing and ruthless Rhett Butler, a blockade runner from Charleston, who falls in love with headstrong southern belle Scarlett O’Hara (Leigh) at first sight. Scarlett only has eyes for her childhood crush, Ashley Wilkes (Howard) despite that he is engaged to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton (De Havilland).Through the Civil War and Sherman’s march through Atlanta, through the Reconstruction period and the tribulations that follow, Rhett and Scarlett never seem to be on the same page at the same time. It is too late when Scarlett finally realizes she has loved Rhett all along, and she is left alone, having been told that frankly, he doesn’t give a damn.
Newspaper, February 1940
Tremendous, lavish and spectacular filming of famous bestseller lives up to press-notices…which means it’s colossal and a must-see. Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, and many others in a superb Technicolor job.
Motion Picture magazine, March 1940
AAAA 1/2 . Being somewhat of a skeptic your reviewer went armed–with a microscope–to the preview of Gone with the Wind for we just didn’t believe it was ll they (including Margaret Mitchell, the author) said it was and we were determined to find a flaw in it even if it was only a minute one. But we have to admit the thing remained snug in our purse for after the opening sequences of the picture, Scarlett casht her spell on us and we went into a trance from which we haven’t completely recovered yet. Vivien Leigh is magnificent as Scarlett and we don’t believe there’s another actress who could have played the part and looked the part as she did. Clark Gable is superb as Rhett Butler and Hattie McDaniel comes in third as Mammy. In fact, the entire cast is splendid–Olivia De Havilland as Melanie, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes, Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O’Hara, Ona Munson as Belle Watling, Laura Hope Crews as Aunt Pittypat, Harry Davenport as Dr. Meade, Ann Rutherford as Carreen, Evelyn Keyes as Suellen. Butterfly McQueen as Prissy adds a delightful touch of comedy to this dramatic spectacle of the South.
Photoplay magazine, April 1940
So magnificent is this re-creation of the modern classic about the Civil War’s effect on the South that it would take volumes to review it adequately. In brief: Full justice has been done to the novel. Clark Gable IS Rhett. Vivien Leigh is magnificent as Scarlett. Olivia de Havilland does her best work as Melanie. Leslie Howard (Ashley) and the others fulfill all expectations. The whole film is overwhelming, even to the finest Technicolor yet.
Screen Life magazine, July 1941
Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War epic with Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes and Olivia de Havilland as Melanie. Running time three hours and forty-five minutes. Now being shown at popular prices throughout the country. ****
“I think it’s hard winning a war with words, gentlemen.” first line
“Whewww…Has the war started?”
“And you miss, are no lady.”
“I consider it a compliment. Ladies have never held any stole with me.”
“I believe in Rhett Butler; he’s the only cause I know. The rest doesn’t mean much to me.”
“With enough courage you can do without a reputation.”
“One day I want you to say to me the words I heard you say to Ashley Wilkes: I love you.”
“You little hypocrite. You don’t mind my knowing about them, just my talking about them.”
“No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”
“I’m not asking you to forgive me. I’ll never understand or forgive myself. And if a bullet gets me, so help me, I’ll laugh at myself for being an idiot. There’s one thing I do know… and that is that I love you, Scarlett. In spite of you and me and the whole silly world going to pieces around us, I love you. Because we’re alike. Bad lots, both of us. Selfish and shrewd. But able to look things in the eyes as we call them by their right names. Scarlett! Look at me! I’ve loved you more than I’ve ever loved any woman and I’ve waited for you longer than I’ve ever waited for any woman.”
“Here’s a soldier of the South who loves you, Scarlett. Wants to feel your arms around him, wants to carry the memory of your kisses into battle with him. Never mind about loving me, you’re a woman sending a soldier to his death with a beautiful memory. Scarlett, kiss me, kiss me… once… ”
“Would you satisfy my curiosity on a point which has bothered me for some time?….Tell me, Scarlett, do you never shrink from marrying men you don’t love?”
“And to think you could have had my millions if you’d just waited a bit longer. How fickle is woman.”
“What a woman!”
“You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.”
“You’ve been married to a boy and an old man. Why not marry one the right age, with a way with women?”
“Forgive me for startling you with the impetuosity of my sentiments, my dear Scarlett–I mean, my dear Mrs. Kennedy. But it cannot have escaped your notice that for some time past the friendship I have felt for you has ripened into a deeper feeling. A feeling more beautiful, more pure, more sacred. Dare I name it? Can it be love? ”
“This is an honorable proposal of marriage made at what I consider a most opportune moment. I can’t go all my life waiting to catch you between husbands.”
“I’m very drunk and I intend on getting drunker before this evening’s over.”
“I want you to faint. This is what you were meant for. None of the fools you’ve ever know have kissed you like this, have they? Not your Charles, or your Frank, or your stupid Ashley. ”
“You have her duds ready or I warn you…I have always thought a good lashing with a buggy whip would benefit you immensely!”
“It seems we’ve been at cross purposes, doesn’t it? But it’s no use now. As long as there was Bonnie, there was a chance that we might be happy. I liked to think that Bonnie was you, a little girl again, before the war, and poverty had done things to you. She was so like you, and I could pet her, and spoil her, as I wanted to spoil you. But when she went, she took everything.”
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” last line
Behind the Scenes
Gable’s first film in color. And, at 238 minutes, the longest of all his films.
Gable worked for a total of 21 days and received $120,000. In comparison, Vivien Leigh worked for 125 and received $25,000.
The idea that author Margaret Mitchell based the character on Gable is completely false. The novel was written between 1926 and 1929, before Gable was even in Hollywood.
Filming of Gable’s scenes was delayed several days because his wardrobe didn’t fit, despite the numerous fittings he had attended. He was very irritated and many say that is the only time they saw him lose his temper on the set.
During the filming of the scene where Rhett carries Scarlett up the stairs, the crew played a joke on Gable. Director Victor Fleming kept demanding retakes, over a dozen times. An exhausted Gable obliged and carried Leigh up the stairs over and over again. Finally Fleming said, “The first take was perfect, Clark!”
Gable was fond of the robe he wore in the New Orleans honeymoon scene and kept it. He later wore it again in Honky Tonk (1941).
In the scene where Rhett pours Mammy a drink after the birth of Bonnie, for a joke during a take, Gable actually poured alcohol instead of the usual colored water into the decanter without Hattie McDaniel knowing it until she took a swig.
The scene where Melanie is comforting Rhett after Scarlett’s fallen down the stairs called for Gable to cry on camera. He balked, citing that it was “unmanly” and not true to the character. Selznick told him they’d film it first with him crying, then without, and then he could make the final decision. Upon seeing both prints, Gable agreed that the crying should stay.
Rhett’s line “Maybe you’ll have an accident” to Scarlett before she falls down the stairs was changed from the book’s original line of “Maybe you’ll have a miscarriage.” The word miscarriage was banned from films at that time.
The infamous line “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” appears in the novel as “My dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Although the hunt for a Scarlett was widely publicized, Gable was Selznick’s first choice for Rhett. Gable however wanted nothing to do with the part. He was hesitant to do another period piece after the failure of Parnell a few years prior and he was terrified to portray a character that so many people already had in their minds.
The film had three premieres: Atlanta, New York and Los Angeles. Even though Gable attended the Atlanta and Los Angeles premieres (with Carole Lombard), he did not see the film in its entirety until the 1950’s. At the Atlanta premiere, he spent half the film chatting with Margaret Mitchell and sources say by the second half he had fallen asleep. At the Los Angeles premiere, the Gables, accompanied by Raoul Walsh and Marion Davies, spent the entire running time of the film in the theater manager’s office getting drunk.
GWTW earned Gable his third (and final) Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Although the film racked up the statuettes, winning Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Picture, among others, Gable lost to Robert Donat for Goodbye Mr. Chips. It was later revealed that Gable had come in third; Donat had won by only a few votes over Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
GWTW became a source of extreme bitterness for Gable in later years. Because he had agreed to sign on as Rhett Butler after MGM offered to pay off his wife Ria for a divorce, no thought was given to the fact that he should also ask for a percentage of the film’s profits. He blamed his agent for this oversight and also David O. Selznick for “hosing him over”. The film was re-released in the 1950’s and Gable refused to attend the premiere. With each new re-release, Gable was only reminded of the money he had “been swindled” out of.
Also adding insult to injury, MGM refused to give Gable a personal copy of the film. Gable owned copies of all of his other films and when he asked for GWTW, they said they would sell it to him for $3,000. Gable was furious and of course refused.