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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, October 03, 2014

Movie Review - Gone with the Wind

The review below was posted back in September of 2010.  Unbeknown to me, I apparently watched Gone with the Wind just four short years ago, but for some reason I had blocked it completely from my memory.  This past Wednesday, I watched this classic ten-time Academy Award-winning film again -- this time on the BIG SCREEN -- and I actually think my review below really still tells all my feelings about director Victor Fleming's epic.  

The film is about 45 minutes too long, but the soap opera is a surprisingly effective romance spearheaded by Vivien Leigh whose performance so easily could've stooped to over-exaggeration, but she somehow manages to reel it in with her character's sassy (read: bitchy) demeanor.  Scarlett O'Hara as a character really stands the test of time and Leigh is really giving a classic performance.

While I may not love Gone with the Wind as much as others, I can see why it's considered a classic.  From a cinematic perspective, it really is a work of art considering the era in which it was made.  It really does stand the test of time.  I only hope I remember in the years to come that I enjoy it...for some reason, this is a movie that I groan about whenever it's brought up as a "classic."  However, it deserves that moniker.  

Original Review from September 2010 is below:

Gone with the Wind (1939)
Starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Hattie McDaniel, Leslie Howard, and Olivia de Havilland 
Directed by Victor Fleming

The only problem with Gone with the Wind is that it's too long.  Clocking in at 238 minutes (that's two minutes shy of four hours) if you include the "entrance," "intermission," "entr'acte," and "ending" music as it would have been presented in 1939, the film slowly meanders along its soap operatic path.

Here we're presented with the Civil War -- North against the South -- but it really doesn't matter.  That's just the backdrop to the epic love story between the headstrong southern belle Scarlett O'Hara and the philandering Rhett Butler.  Rhett falls for Scarlett, but she's in love with the bland Ashley (that's a guy), but Ashley's marrying his cousin (as they were wont to do back then), the heartwarming Melanie.  Such drama!

Yes, it's silly, but the story is surprisingly effective.  I dare anyone to deny that Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara is a bitch, but that's what makes her so interesting.  Yes, she's the biggest flirt in all of Georgia which angers all the women in town, and, after she steals the men away from their ladies, she simply breaks their hearts, but she's really just a woman trying to make it in a male-dominated world.  While it may seem like she hasn't changed a bit from the opening reel to the closing one, the fact of the matter is, she really has grown to be self-sufficient (despite her endless reliance on men).  She did what was necessary to survive -- more than she ever thought she would be able to do.

And that's what makes her so attractive to the womanizing Rhett.  Clark Gable plays this Southern Casanova with wit and charm, always well aware of Scarlett's manipulations and never allowing her to walk all over him.  Plus, he gets to spout some great lines -- the most famous being "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," but my favorite being "You need kissing badly.  That's what's wrong with you.  You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how."  Coming out of anyone else, it may sound silly and trite, but coming from Gable, it's kind of fantastic.  Without a doubt, both Gable and Leigh (the later of whom won an Oscar) are stellar here, rising above the melodrama and making the film much better than it has any right to be.

Aided by a rather touching performance from Olivia de Havilland as Melanie, the woman who unknowingly shatters Scarlett's dream of being with her perceived true love Ashley, and Oscar-winning Hattie McDaniel as Mammy, the house servant with the voice of reason, director Victor Fleming manages to pull out some amazing performances from his actors.  Fleming also crafts a beautiful looking film as well.  There are some wonderful shots here -- ones that resonate even hours later -- Scarlett walking through a field of wounded soldiers, a beautiful red-hued sunset at the O'Hara plantation named Tara to name just two.  The use of Technicolor (in its early stages) and a sweeping Max Steiner score are both stunning, adding some oomph to the already powerful images.

If only the film were an hour shorter.  A three-hour running time would've been perfect.  At four hours, this film's pushing its luck.

The RyMickey Rating:  B (9/2010)
The RyMickey Rating:  B+ (10/2014)

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