And The Oscar Goes To…

After watching the stunning Blu-Ray of GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), I still believe that GWTW might be the greatest Hollywood film of all time, combining the best artisans and technicians to fully replicate the scope and drama of Margaret Mitchell’s sprawling epic of the Old South. Overseen by studio maven David O. Selznick at a cost of four million dollars, with no less than four or five directors behind the camera (including Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Michael Curtiz and King Vidor) and six screenwriters, notably Ben Hecht (the final credit going to Sidney Howard), it’s a motion picture miracle that it all came together in the theater to become the biggest box-office hit to this day (in terms of adjusted dollars) and garner an unprecedented ten Oscar nominations.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler were destined to be the Civil War crossed lovers, and Leigh’s sexy, strong and stupendous performance ranks for me as one of the most transformative onscreen character arcs. Gable is a charismatic dynamo and except for the moment where he joins up with the doomed confederacy, Rhett Butler is the classic American screen rebel, wise to the hypocrisies of the age, disgusted at the waste of life and love, cognizant that the South must pay for its slavish arrogant ignorance. His repelled attraction to Scarlett makes perfect sense, and they do belong together, except that her selfish nature betrays all those around her. To that end, she represents the tragic romantic lie of the Antebellum.

One can’t watch GWTW and not reflect on its racial components, and there’s no doubt that the presentation of slaves and masters is a Hollywood fantasy non compare, but at least the filmmakers gave the actors some dignity and good lines. Hattie McDaniel was the first black actor to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress — although she was not even allowed to attend the gigantic premiere in Atlanta due to segregation, which prompted Clark Gable to boycott the event until McDaniel convinced him to go. Their relationship in the film is warm and almost equal, with Butler vying for Mammy’s respect; the pair’s chemistry is tangible as they were indeed friends.

As stated, the Blu-ray has been transfered in 8K and looks as spectacular as the recent NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1960). You can see into the candlelight and note the rich velvets of the costumes; even Vivien Leigh’s eyes literally sparkle like emeralds. My favorite scene in the film, when Scarlett O’Hara declares her famous vow to never be hungry again, her silhouette bathed in an orange sunset as Max Steiner’s iconic theme sweeps the camera back, remains a revelation, the crowning cinematic jewel of a studio era as antiquated as the Southern vigor it represents.

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7 Responses to “And The Oscar Goes To…”

  1. I’m from Atlanta & actively avoided this movie until finally caving & watching it last year on DVD. Sorry I waited, it might be, as you note, “the greatest Hollywood film of all time”. One thing, and I have no idea if this was the filmmakers intent, but as far as racial components go, the (old) white Southerners (aka the past) are wrong about EVERYTHING in the film. It’s remarkable. It may be more sly a film than its critics (me!) give it credit for. Anyway, there was more there than I expected and the story really swept me up. Hopefully one of these days the Cinerama Dome or maybe the Egyptian will run it one more time.

    • christian Says:

      Last time I saw it was at the majestic Paramount in Austin in 1999. GWTW is a perfect film to watch once every ten years. I always forget how great it is.

      And I just missed a 70mm screening of Tati’s PLAY TIME !!!!!

  2. This blog needs more pics of HOT STARLETS.

    If I had my own blog I’d post like CHICK OF THE DAY and put up a nice hot pic of like K-Stew or Megan Fox or Carey Mulligan or Amanda Seyfried or Scarlett Johansson or Paris Hilton or Zoe Saldana or Taylor Swift or Rachel McAdams or Miley Cyrus or someone.

    You should consider it.

    • christian Says:

      That’s the same female line-up as a US/PEOPLE/STAR magazine rack. Key words here: “If I had my own blog”…Wordpress takes seconds Lex. Come on. If you can spot/subtitle you can figger out WP and Final Draft….

      • Hey, Christian…

        Do you sort of miss “Dirty Harry” Nolte’s presence on Wells’ blog? (I know you don’t post on HE anymore either, so I’m assuming you get to go pretty much Nolte-free these days.)

        As we both know, I skew right on a lot of stuff, but “Dirty Harry” is maybe the single most brick-wall frustrating persona on the Internet. I cannot help but to read him on Big Hollywood from time to time, beating the same Hollywood Hates America! drum ad nauseam.

        It gets him the hits and he certainly has a devoted fan base, but you can’t even raise a dissenting voice lest he ban you or block your comments. He doesn’t answer e-mails or tweets. At least on Wells’ blog you could call out his BULLSHIT and occasionally pierce the venner to find a once-enthusiastic, smart, likable film geek who somewhere along the way got swallowed up by politics and spin and just regurgitating the party line.

        I’m thinking of creating an entire blog devoted to calling out him and his insane BH posts, just so he’ll finally have to answer his detractors instead of hiding behind his support network of movie-hating fools.

        • christian Says:

          The only thing I miss about Wells blog is pre-Obama election when Wells wasn’t such a think-skinned bully and you had a great selection of comments.

          “Dirty Harry” and I bonded over something or other once at HE and I just accept him as a right-wing talking point — like you at your most obvious. He can’t be any worse about banning than Wells, who contrary to what you say, bans anybody for questioning his hypocrisies. Proving my point that Wells is at heart a conservative.

          But I can’t read Nolte’s site much as the stullifying boredom of Hollywood Haters isn’t worth the time.

  3. speaking of oscars, i m printing the new CARNAGE draft riiiiight now…

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