Gone With the Wind: Great Timeless Passion Between Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler

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Introduction

Set in the old south during a trivial time for the states during a time of war. Margaret Mitchell depicts a great everlasting love story of a passionate couple surviving a dreadful time. While unfolding the destruction and burning of the Old South, but also the rebuilding of cities that were affected by the civil war. Gone with the Wind is an exhilarating, hauntingly, intense film that viewers will remember for generations.

Background

During the time of filming, it was a time of great political strife in the world. With the beginning of unrest in Europe and the possible involvement of the United States was worrisome. As Americans watched the Old World of Europe Crumble, they were assured by the film that their American world would live on, no matter what might happen (Levy). In London during the war, Gone with the Wind was well received as well as unshackled Europe after the war. It was not accepted in Germany, where they viewed Scarlett O’Hara as a bad role model resulting in the banning of the film.

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On the home front, the film references the period of The Great Depression. When Scarlett returns to Tara and has the powerful monologue of As God as my witness, as God as my witness, they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this, and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again-no, nor any of my folks! -if I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill! As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again (Gone with the Wind). This was a huge boost for the Americans who survived that Great Depression.

One of the most valuable things to come from the film was the renewal of southern pride. The producer’s glorification of the Old South was seen by southerners as a healing of North-South tension still left over from the civil war (Levy). Over a million people assembled to Atlanta for the premier.

Production

With an all-star cast, casting for the film proved to be a trying task and one that was thoroughly followed by the word (Harry Ransom Center p3). In response of the public interest, an immense amount of fan mail was sent. The producer decided that it would be best for an unknown actress to play Scarlett. Selznick decided to send Katherin Brown on a journey across the eastern united states, especially in the south to find the unfamiliar actress who would play Scarlett in the Southern Talent Search (Harry Ransom Center p3). However, unsuccessfully they found other actors to play other parts. Alicia Rhett was discovered during this search and was later cast for the role of India Wilkes (Harry Ransom Center p3). However, Selznick finally found his Scarlett, whose name was Vivien Leigh. This casting turned into the most controversial (Martin p8) because Leigh wasn’t southern nor American, she hailed from Britain. It took the director two years before deciding that Leigh would be his Scarlett.

When casting for the leading male role, an offer was given to Clark Gable who at first declined. The reason for turning down the offer was due to Gable believing no screen adaptation could live up to the expectations of the general public (Bauer p2). Due to compulsion from the studio as well as public demand, Clark decided to accept the offer to play Rhett.

With the leading male role cast, next up would be the casting of Scarlett’s other love interest being cast. Ashley Wilkes played by Leslie Howard. Howard was forty years old when filming began. Leslie was known to dislike the role, feeling he was not right for that role he would not be believable as the handsome twenty-one-year-old Ashley (Dayani p5).

Gone with the Wind remains one of the longest movies to receive the Best Picture Oscar (Dayani p8) with the movie coming in just under four hours. While still remaining the highest-grossing box office films of all time, also setting bests for Academy Award wins and nominations. With many of the actors receiving Oscars for their roles.

One of the first scenes to be shot was the burning of Atlanta. With a cost of $25,000, it was also the most expensive (Dayani p4). This scene resulted in 15,000 gallons of water to drown the flames and a total of 30 acres of backlot being burned. Some abandoned sets from notable films like King Kong were also set ablaze (Dayani p4). Over 113 minutes were filmed with only a few short minutes being used.

Cultural Reception

Overall, Gone with the Wind was a well-received in the United States, but there were protests. Soon after rights to the novel were received, the studio received a series of postcards and letters arguing that the book was un-American, anti-Semitic, anti-Negro, pro-Ku Klux Klan, pro-Nazi, and fascists (Harry Ransom Center p2). Due to such a reaction from the general public, some scenes and choice of words were removed from the film. Some of the reasons it became an American staple was due to feminism, addressing the social turmoil from the Great Depression and toned-down white supremacy.

Controversies

Some of the greater controversies surrounding this iconic film including unfair wages, prejudice and the animosity between Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. The imbalanced wages were drastic between the lead actor and actress. While Clark Gable was said to have received almost $120,000 for his 70 non-consecutive days of filming. While Leigh only received a measly $25,000 for over 125 days on set (Dayani p8).

Due to the segregation law in Atlanta at the time Hattie McDaniel who played Mammy, later won an Oscar for Best supporting Actress. McDaniel was not allowed to attend the premier (Mahoney p4). Due to this the actor who portrayed Rhett, Clark Gable decided to boycott the premier.

The dislike between the two actors is well known. Vivien was known to loath doing scenes that involved Gable, she claimed he had foul smelling breath. Many say he had horrible smelling breath was due to his dentures (Dayani p16).

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