CORPORATE LINE: Hot-tempered, self-centered, part-Irish Southern beauty Scarlett O’Hara, played to the teeth by Vivien Leigh, loves the gentlemanly Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard). Smug, rebellious, honest, blockade-running profiteer Rhett Butler, portrayed gracefully and naturally by Clark Gable, loves Scarlett. Ashley, who is also in love with Scarlett, marries his genteel cousin Melanie (Olivia de Havilland) because he believes that their quiet similarities will create a better marriage than Scarlett’s passion. Meanwhile, sparks fly between Rhett and Scarlett at their first encounter and continue throughout Scarlett’s first two marriages. Scarlett and Rhett finally wed, but Scarlett continues to pine for her beloved Ashley. Set against the Civil War and Southern Reconstruction, this tragic love quadrangle offers the burning of Atlanta and fields of wounded Confederates as part of its lush scenery. Meticulous backdrops, glorious sunsets, numerous silhouettes, and the ultrasaturated Technicolor film create a hyperreal vision. The romantic score is every bit as lush and dramatic as the photography, borrowing folk melodies from the Old South to make the tragic war concrete. Heavy nostalgic tones pervade the often witty dialogue and larger-than-life charms and faults of the leads.
THE MOVIE: Gone with the Wind is the epic. The only question left to ask is if this is the greatest American movie ever made. Even over four hours this is everything modern films could only dream to be and still dream of becoming.
This cast is phenomenal. Rhett Butler was written for Clark Gable and he delivers one of the great lead men of all time. Vivien Leigh engulfs the character Scarlet O’Hara. Leigh is a beauty that transcends the screen. Hattie McDaniel won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her character Mammy.
The vision. The beauty. The majesty of Gone With the Wind can overwhelm the viewer. This is perfection and the updated print looks wonderful as it captures the details and makes for crisp lines that one can imagine the audience saw in theaters.
Disc One and Two: Along with the film there is a wonderful commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer. He has fascinating insight and wealth of knowledge.
Disc Three: “The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind” runs two hours and has everything you wanted to know about the movie and more. Also included is information on the new print of the film for the 65th release and how it was restored. There are a few shorter featurettes; “The Old South” – 1940 theatrical short directed by Fred Zinnerman, and an interesting newsreel.
Disc Four: “Melanie Remembers: Reflections by Olivia de Havilland” is the first of four documentaries. Olivia reflects on the movie and is one of the only living cast members. “Gable: The King Remembered” and “Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond” are biographies of the two lead characters. The final documentary is about the rest of the cast.
FRANKLY: Honestly, because the Gone with the Wind is such an epic it is nearly impossible to drum up any words greater than to say this is one of the five greatest American movies of all time.
+ Charlie Craine