1939 epic Civil War romance still king of the movie world
Great movies never grow old which is why Frankly, My Dear has decided to put together a list of our top 100 movies – with a little help from our readers of course.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reviewing some of our favourite films, from old classics to modern musicals. Kick starting our top 100 movies list is the film that inspired the blog, Gone With The Wind.
Gone With The Wind tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and her marriage to Rhett Butler (Clark Gable). The 1939 epic historical romance is based on Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer-winning novel and is spilt into two parts as it is a whopping 234 minutes long.
Part one is set on the eve of the American Civil War in 1861. Scarlett O’Hara learns that her secret love, Ashley Wilkes is to be married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland). Scarlett confesses her love to Ashley but he rebuffs her. The conversation is overheard by Rhett Butler who teases Scarlett about her love but promises to keep it a secret. Hurt by Ashley’s rejection, Scarlett consents to marry Melanie’s shy younger brother Charles even though she does not love him. The pair marry before Charles and Ashley leave to fight however Scarlett is quickly widowed when Charles dies from pneumonia and measles.
Soon after Charles’ death, at a charity event to raise money for the war effort, Rhett makes an inordinately large bid to dance with Scarlett. Rhett is determined to win Scarlett but she laughs in his face and says it will never happen. Eight months later, Scarlett is forced to call on Rhett for help when Melanie goes into premature labour. Rhett helps Scarlett, Melanie and the baby to escape the burning city but then abandons Scarlett with a passionate kiss as he goes off to fight. Scarlett returns home to find the town burned and her home deserted by all except her ailing father, her sisters and two servants. Scarlett vows to do anything for the survival of her family and herself.
At the start of part two, the war is over and Scarlett and her family are facing financial hardship. Ashley has returned and Scarlett begs him to run away with her but Ashley refuses to leave Melanie. Realising she cannot pay the rising taxes, Scarlett pays a visit to Rhett in Atlanta but Rhett refuses to help. On her way home, Scarlett bumps into her sister’s fiancé, Frank Kennedy, who now owns a successful general store. Determined to get what she wants, the spoilt and selfish Scarlett lies to Frank by saying her sister has married someone else. Frank marries Scarlett instead, who takes over his business and becomes a wealthy woman.
Scarlett soon becomes a widow when Frank, Ashley and Rhett make a night raid on a shanty town, resulting in Frank’s death. With Frank’s funeral barely over, Rhett visits Scarlett and proposes marriage, and she accepts. They have a daughter named Bonnie Blue but Scarlett still pines for Ashley and pushes Rhett away, telling him she wants no more children. Bit by bit, Scarlett’s nasty and selfish ways start to chip away at Rhett, tearing her family apart. First, she suffers a mischarge after falling down a flight of stairs during an argument. Then, tragedy strikes when Bonnie dies while attempting to jump a fence with her pony.
The film ends with Scarlett dashing after Rhett to beg him to stay. She pleads with him, telling him she had loved him all along but Rhett refuses to stay. He walks away into the early morning fog leaving Scarlett weeping on the staircase, vowing to one day win back his love.
What makes Gone With The Wind truly special is its star performances, particularly that of Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Leigh is exceptional as Scarlett, playing the spoiled, selfish and manipulative Southern belle with true energy and animation. Her magnificent performance won her a well-deserved Oscar for Best Actress at the 12th Academy Awards.
Clark Gable is also is fascinating as the elegant and heroic gentleman. His love scenes with Leigh are memorising and fully of sexual tension, giving the film its vibrancy. It is said that filming was delayed for two years as producer David O. Selznick was so determination to secure Clark Gable for the role.
The film won ten Academy Awards at the 12th Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming) and Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), setting a new record for the total number of wins and nominations at the time.
We think Gone With The Wind deserves a place in our top 100 movies list but do you agree? Let us know what you thought of the film by commenting below and head over to our Twitter account for your chance to win a copy of Gone With The Wind on DVD.