Gone with the Wind (review by Doug Smith)
Loaded with racial slurs and blatant chauvinism, “Gone with the Wind” exemplifies everything the south was and everything that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson want the country to become. Speaking of those two, I’m sure they would applaud the fact that David O. Selznick was fined $5,000 for electing to leave the word “damn” in Rhett Butler’s last line. Believe it or not, some people actually left theaters during the movie because of that word. Some other options for the infamous line included, “Frankly my dear … I just don’t care,” and “…it makes my gorge rise,” which, quite frankly, could be interpreted as something far worse than “damn.”
This movie is pretty much a love story, in a twisted way, with a little war thrown in the mix to kick it up a notch. Let me just write out this royalty check to Emeril here and I’ll continue. There. Now then, pretty much everything in this movie is right on target. The acting, the cinematography (some of the shots quite literally can take your breath away, even though a lot of it is simply matte paintings), the directing, the music, etc., are all extraordinary. Alas, it’s my job to lampoon a movie no matter how good they are, so, here it goes.
Clark Gable smirks his way through the role of Rhett Butler, as only he is able to do. Vivien Leigh plays Scarlett O’Hara, who looks like she could be The Rock’s inspiration for The People’s Eyebrow when she gets pissed off. Leslie Howard is Ashley Wilkes, the guy that Scarlett wants to lure into her web. Olivia de Havilland plays Melanie Hamilton, who got to Ashley before Scarlett could get her meat hooks into him. Also, keep your eyes open for future Superman, George Reeves as Stuart Tarleton.
The movie starts off with a little rolling intro saying how the South is “no more than a dream remembered.” Sure, maybe a hot, sweaty, Nyquil induced, fever dream. Slavery and chauvinism aren’t exactly my idea of a nice dream. Anyway, after that rolls by, we see Scarlett and two of her little boy toys talking about war. But that’s a topic that doesn’t involve much thought, so they quickly change it to something much better: a barbeque being held at the Wilkes Plantation. Eventually, the conversation leads to how Ashley Wilkes is going to ask his cousin (yes, his cousin, I told you this was the south) to marry him. This infuriates Scarlett because, even though she’s probably leading on about 20 different boys, Ashley is the one she loves.
Scarlett goes storming off down her driveway and then we see a brief little confrontation involving who’s the foreman out in the fields. It quickly gets resolved. Thank goodness, because for a while there, I simply couldn’t take the suspense.
After that little bout of character introduction, Scarlett’s father gets home so she whines to him a little bit and he makes it better by telling her she’ll inherit land. Vivien Leigh was very good at whining in this movie. Later on in the evening, Scarlett’s mom gets home after helping a woman give birth. She tells one of her workers that the child was his and “thankfully, has died.” So, once again, you can see just how the South was such a great big, wonderful dream world. “A child born out of wedlock? KILL IT! Anything that goes against the Bible? BURN IN HELL! Oh, but slavery’s okay.”
The next day, it’s off to the Wilkes Plantation for the aforementioned party! Pretty much all we see of the party, though, is Scarlett making a little whore of herself and lots of guys getting all hot and bothered over her. That is, until Ashley proposes to Melanie (his cousin … need I remind you of that little Jerry Lee Lewis-ism?) and she accepts. Then Scarlett throws one of her little hissy fits because things aren’t going her way (she does this throughout the entire movie) and, while all the girls are supposed to be napping, she sneaks downstairs while all the guys are talking about war. After eavesdropping on them for a while, she manages to track down Ashley and declares her love to him. Maybe that isn’t a good description. It’s more like she thrusts her breasts out at painful angles and practically begs to be humped like the leg of the owner of an unneutered dog.
I’m not exactly sure why Scarlett’s so moist over Ashley. He looks like he could be her grandfather and probably needs about five Viagras to do anything. At any rate, Ashley does confess that he has feelings for her. However, he still plans on marrying Melanie, because, he says, “…she’s like me.” Yeah, well, maybe that’s because she’s your friggin’ COUSIN! They argue a little more and pretty soon Scarlett’s having another of her little fits, so she slaps Ashley (who then leaves), gives the People’s Eyebrow and throws a vase at the fireplace. Just then, Rhett pops his greasy-haired head up off of the sofa, having heard the whole ordeal. She yells at him, too, and then leaves. Rhett makes a couple snide comments and laughs. And there’s the movie in a nutshell: Rhett making snide comments and Scarlett yelling.
A little bit later, Melanie’s brother proposes to Scarlett and she accepts, basically just to make Ashley jealous. Unfortunately for Scarlett, pretty soon the Civil War starts and the goober she married dies.
During the mourning process, Scarlett and Melanie go to Atlanta, where they attend a bazaar. As luck would have it, Rhett is also at the bazaar, in all his smug glory. From this point on, the movie just pretty much keeps going … and going … and going. The Energizer Rabbit’s got nothing on this movie. To sum it up, the war begins and ends, Scarlett marries someone else and he promptly shoots himself, and it isn’t too long before Rhett and Scarlett get married and procreate. Alas, Scarlett still loves Ashley and eventually Ashley’s wife catches him and Scarlett embracing. Oh, no! A hug! How terrible! From this point on, Scarlett’s third marriage quickly progresses downhill. Having a miscarriage and losing their daughter to a fatal horse accident doesn’t exactly help, either.
I’m actually going to stop right here, because, frankly, the movie’s four hours long and if I gave a complete play-by-play, you’d be reading for days. I hope “Berlin Alexanderplatz” never shows up on my review list. Besides, pretty much all of you know what “Gone with the Wind” is about and how it ends and, if you don’t, you really need to see it. And for all you film nazis out there who are just itching to fire a flame mail at me because I poked a little fun at a cherished film icon, I’ll leave it on a high note. This really is an excellent movie and should be in everyone’s video or DVD library. (Incidentally, if it’s not in your library, you can easily buy it, using the handy dandy links over on the left side of your screen.) I give this movie five yaks.