Gone with the Wind (Fleming/Cukor/Wood, 1939)

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Barmy
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 3:59 pm

#1 Post by Barmy » Tue Sep 19, 2006 2:33 pm

I saw it last night for the first time, in a theater. There was a lot more comedy (intentional or otherwise) than I expected.

My favorite part:

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BWilson
Joined: Mon Nov 15, 2004 6:06 pm

#2 Post by BWilson » Thu Sep 21, 2006 2:25 pm

Is that Colonel Angus?

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domino harvey
Dot Com Dom
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm

#3 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 17, 2008 2:45 am

Given that Gone With the Wind is so much a part of the collective cultural consciousness, it's strange to actually sit down and watch the film. All the famous shots and lines are already ingrained before the picture even begins. As I've gradually worked my way through canonical films which had thus far escaped me, I've experienced this sensation time and again, and it's to the film's credit that it survives its reputation. I'm not sure what I expected a four hour, South-lamenting, Civil War movie to be like, but it was certainly a good deal darker than I expected in tone. Though not the masterpiece it's still sold as, I do agree with the Admin, the film's certainly as endlessly entertaining as it is endless! And ultimately, it's always nice to be able to finally put a film with the film history.

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david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#4 Post by david hare » Thu Jul 17, 2008 4:07 am

It was fascinating reading posts from four years ago!

I still think it's a bunch of pants. And if it has some sort of collective unconcsious thang throbbing away somewhere that's strictly Stateside. I have NEVER owned it to this day.

Which is not to say there aren't one or two interesting Fleming movies. He simply couldnt handle David O. Virtually nobody could. Even after Michael Powell, in the superb Vol 1 of his Auto talks with great insight about the way Hitchcock and one or two others manipulated Selznick (essentially as an egomaniacal idiot) into basically not fucking up their films, Powell himself comes totally undone with the - basically atrocious - Gone to Earth.

The problems with GWTW are the same as Selnick's Personality - obsessive compulsive doisorder, control freakery and - natch - Borderline Personality Disorder. It's an American icon.

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Belmondo
Joined: Thu Feb 08, 2007 9:19 am
Location: Cape Cod

#5 Post by Belmondo » Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:19 am

No film is beyond criticism, but, GWTW comes closest in displaying the studio system at the height of its power and putting everything that could possibly be put up there on the screen for contemporary audiences to enjoy and appreciate.
The novel is also beyond criticism in that many highbrow book collectors do not reguard it as "literature" even as they buy highly sought after first editions of the book which are now hugely expensive.
The novel had an author, the movie did not have an auteur, and frankly my dear, who gives a damn. Movies have always been a collaborative venture and this one may have involved control freaks, micro-management, and lord knows what else, but, it still succeeds in a way that demonstrates all the good things about classic Hollywood and now lets us engage in valuable discussions about:

a) the film itself and all that went into it
b) the studio system with all its strengths and flaws
c) the difference between "classic", "epic", and the ultimate standing of GWTW as new generations challenge that "test of time" argument.
d) race relations, the ante-bellum South and the Civil War
e) the extent to which this is American in a way that can only be American

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#6 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:33 am

davidhare wrote:It was fascinating reading posts from four years ago!

I still think it's a bunch of pants. And if it has some sort of collective unconcsious thang throbbing away somewhere that's strictly Stateside. I have NEVER owned it to this day.

Which is not to say there aren't one or two interesting Fleming movies. He simply couldnt handle David O. Virtually nobody could. Even after Michael Powell, in the superb Vol 1 of his Auto talks with great insight about the way Hitchcock and one or two others manipulated Selznick (essentially as an egomaniacal idiot) into basically not fucking up their films, Powell himself comes totally undone with the - basically atrocious - Gone to Earth.

The problems with GWTW are the same as Selnick's Personality - obsessive compulsive doisorder, control freakery and - natch - Borderline Personality Disorder. It's an American icon.
I wonder what Martha, dvddane (aka Henrik) et al are doing now?

I agree on Gone With The Wind - it is a bunch of astonishing in scale set pieces strung together around one of the most irritatingly self-centred leading ladies (Scarlett) on screen and one of the most soppiest, doe-eyed, limp couples in cinema history (the Wilkes). I wouldn't really want to get to know people who considered Rhett Butler, Scarlett O'Hara or Ashley Wilkes for role models!

It feels like a soap opera before we had the term just with delusions of grandeur that they are "saying something" about the South and the Civil War, in the same way that Titanic probably wanted to feel like it was "saying something" about class and clashing cultures but obviously had much more interest in the manufactured love story and the spectacle (a process that reduces the truly interesting aspects of the historical events to background and quick, easy to grasp stereotyped characters in the rush to get back to the long and drawn out scenes of Scarlett and Rhett or Jack and Rose smooching).

It doesn't mean it is not an enjoyable wallow but little more than that. Though I do find it strange that Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar when any glimmer of thought about her role giving a positive portrayal of black people is almost completely obliterated by Butterfly McQueen's slappable Prissy.

I much prefer Duel In The Sun for over the top, borderline insane, melodrama! The best Jennifer Jones film. :wink:

(Though I do remember being in tears as a kid when she plunged out of the Great Glass Elevator in The Towering Inferno!)

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david hare
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:01 pm
Location: WellyYeller

#7 Post by david hare » Thu Jul 17, 2008 5:35 pm

Oh, Towering Inferno is wildly superior to GWTW!

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

#8 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:02 pm

It really is - I don't remember lobbying my parents for it but it was the first film I was allowed to stay up (very late given the length of the film) to watch! I don't think my dad realised how traumatising that film would be! (Ironically he works as a fire alarm engineer, so perhaps he had a professional interest in seeing the film!) Traumatising in a good way though!

Even though it could be considered a dead end scene (literally!) I always find the couple early on finding themselves trapped by the fire in an ever smaller space, putting a brave face on their situation until they are overwhelmed quite moving, sad and memorable, perhaps because their deaths go completely unnoticed by everyone else.

Jones's exit was one of those "not her...anybody but her...drop the kid but not her!" moments, combined with the manner of her exit and the character being the nicest in the whole film gave me a very early lesson that being good doesn't necessarily mean you are immune from arbitrary bad luck! It was also a good, if heartbreaking, idea to juxtapose McQueen and Newman's victory over the fire with Astaire's loss, not diminishing the loss by focusing totally on the victorious ending - something other disaster movies could learn from!

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