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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gone With The Wind (1939)

A willful, spoiled Southern belle (Vivien Leigh) finds her way of life destroyed when the Civil War reduces her family's wealth and home to rubble. When the war is over, she is determined to become rich again at whatever the cost. There's not much one can say about this great American epic, in which the war between the States serves as a backdrop to the love/hate romance between Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara and the rogue Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). O'Hara is one of the great film heroines and Leigh's performance is sheer perfection and matched every step of the way by Gable who was born to play Rhett. It's a romanticized view of the Old South that never existed except in myth and if one is looking for a historical examination of the Civil War and the Reconstruction, this isn't it. But it's an irresistible movie. Victor Fleming gets the directorial credit though a couple of other directors (George Cukor among them) are said to have directed pieces of the film. The superb cast includes Leslie Howard (a bit wan), Olivia De Havilland (who makes niceness attractive), Hattie McDaniel (simply magnificent, her speech on the staircase will break your heart), Thomas Mitchell, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Rutherford, Barbara O'Neil, Victor Jory, Isabel Jewell, Jane Darwell, Ward Bond, Butterfly McQueen, George Reeves, Harry Davenport, Ona Munson and Laura Hope Crews. The only disappointment is Max Steiner's nondescript score.

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