Directed by: Victor Fleming (and Sam Wood and George Cukor)
Starring: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard, Hattie McDaniel, Thomas Mitchell
Is there anything left to be said about Gone with the Wind? It’s still the big film of 1939. Last I knew, it had still been seen by more people than any other movie ever made, and, when prices are adjusted, it’s still the all-time money-maker. Owing to the fact that it was withheld from TV for so long and was so often re-issued, it has almost certainly been seen in theaters by more people still living than any other old film. (That it has mostly been seen substantially cropped on screens designed for wide-screen formats since the mid-1950s is another issue.) It’s thought of as a Civil War epic, but really it’s a classy four-hour soap opera about a couple of folks with really lousy timing set against the Civil War and Reconstruction Era as flashy backdrop. It’s also the ultimate in corporate moviemaking. It all feels tried, tested and market-researched within an inch of its life to a point that it hardly matters who directed it. The only discernible presence behind the camera—apart from producer David O. Selznick—is production designer William Cameron Menzies. His fingerprints are all over Gone with the Wind, and so much about the film that has become iconic has more to do with him than anyone else—except the stars. I don’t think it’s a great film, but I do think it’s one hell of a movie—if you accept that distinction. There are moments—starting with the manner in which the main title appears on the screen—that are thrilling in the simple fact that they’re so obviously “special” in one way or another. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing it as part of their Civil War commemoration, and due to its length, they’re running it in two parts—which would’ve pleased my father, who always felt it would be fine if it ended at the intermission.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show part one of Gone with the Wind at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.