Epic romantic drama based on Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer-winning novel set during the American Civil War. Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) often uses men to get what she wants, but is unable to get the one man she truly desires, Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard). She soon meets her match in the roguish Captain Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) and in the war itself which destroys the genteel way of life she has always known. With determination she rebuilds her life from the shattered remains the Union Army leaves behind. Despite its sometimes troubled production (director George Cukor was replaced by Victor Fleming, with Sam Wood brought in when Fleming's health failed), the film won ten Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress.
David O. Selznick wanted Gone with the Wind
to be somehow more than a movie, a film that would broaden the very idea of what a film could be and do and look like. In many respects he got what he worked so hard to achieve in this 1939 epic (and all-time box-office champ in terms of tickets sold), and in some respects he fell far short of the goal. While the first half of this Civil War drama is taut and suspenseful and nostalgic, the second is ramshackle and arbitrary. But there's no question that the film is an enormous achievement in terms of its every resource--art direction, colour, sound, cinematography--being pushed to new limits for the greater glory of telling an American story as fully as possible. Vivien Leigh is still magnificently narcissistic, Olivia de Havilland angelic and lovely, Leslie Howard reckless and aristocratic. As for Clark Gable: we're talking one of the most vital, masculine performances ever committed to film. --Tom Keogh