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(1939/1998) (Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh) (G)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Drama: A Southern belle pursues the man of her dreams through and after the civil war, while continually dealing with a charming and adventurous man who has set his sights on her.
Scarlett O'Hara (VIVIEN LEIGH) is a young and spoiled woman growing up on Tara, a sprawling Georgian plantation during the days preceding the Civil War. Certainly the beauty of any ball, Scarlett can't manage to find a husband while nearly everyone other woman around her doesn't share that dilemma.

Her biggest problem is that she loves Ashley Wilkes (LESLIE HOWARD), a dashing young army captain who's just announced his engagement to her selfless cousin, Melanie Hamilton (OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND). Crushed, she throws a tantrum, an event that Rhett Butler (CLARK GABLE), a handsome adventurer and ladies man, can't help but comment upon. The two immediately believe that they dislike each other, but a few romantic sparks lay the groundwork for later fireworks.

The Civil War then breaks out and Scarlett, who married Melanie's brother, Charles (RAND BROOKS), in an attempt to make Ashley jealous, learns that her new husband has died. Feeling no remorse since she didn't love him, Scarlett goes off to Atlanta to stay with her Aunt Pittypat (LAURA HOPE CREWS). Scarlett's shrewd Mammy (HATTIE MCDANIEL), however, knows that the young lady is really going just to be there when Ashley returns home on leave.

As the war effort worsens and the yanks approach Atlanta, nearly everyone flees, leaving Scarlett and her young slave, Prissy (BUTTERFLY MCQUEEN), to care for Melanie who's now bedridden in the later stages of pregnancy. Once the war has ended, Scarlett returns to Tara and later marries her sister's fiancÚ, Frank Kennedy (CARROLL NYE), a business man who saves the decimated plantation from disclosure.

He's later killed, however, and Scarlett and Rhett eventually get married and have a daughter. Her unresolved love for Ashley, however, drives a wedge between her and Rhett. A series of unexpected and tragic events then follows that tests Scarlett's love and overall resolve.

Perhaps, but I'm sure most would rather see any number of newer releases before heading off to see a four hour, near sixty-year-old movie.
Apparently because they believed it didn't contain material to warrant a higher rating, but we believe it should have received a PG for thematic elements (described in "Our Word To Parents").
  • VIVIEN LEIGH plays a spoiled and self-centered woman who deals with terrible hardship and struggles, and emerges as a stronger person for it (although she partially reverts to her initial ways later in the story).
  • CLARK GABLE plays an adventurous, womanizing man (but still a gentleman) who initially only looks out for himself, but then cares for his family before martial problems drive him to booze.
  • LESLIE HOWARD plays a war hero and businessman who never allows his feelings for Scarlett to cause him to be unfaithful to his wife.
  • OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND plays a selfless woman who remains friends with Scarlett despite rumors about her and Ashley.


    OUR TAKE: 9 out of 10
    Recently selected as the fourth best film of all time (according to the American Film Institute's 1998 survey) and originally released at the end of 1939, this cinematic adaption of Margaret Mitchell's 1936 best selling, Pulitzer prize winning novel went on to win eight Academy Awards (out of 13 nominations), including Best Picture, Director, Actress and Supporting Actress. As impressive as that is, if one uses adjusted figures to account for inflation, it has also yet to be beaten at the domestic box office in the intervening 59 years ("Titanic" comes up about $400 million short).

    While various restored prints have made their way into theaters and on TV from time to time, this version is the first in more than a quarter of a century to feature the true three-color negative Technicolor process, as well as digital sound and the original 1.33 (width to height) aspect ratio. It's near four hour length (222 minutes) may test the resolve of some moviegoers' posteriors (making "Titanic" seem like a breeze to sit through), but if you get the chance and have the time, you should definitely try to catch this film during its big screen rerelease.

    I'll readily admit that I hadn't seen the movie in twenty some years, and that was only on broadcast TV interrupted by commercials and most likely spread out over two nights. Thus, I was anxious to see the film the way it had been first intended, hoping and trusting that this most recent restoration would be as close to the original as possible.

    While I obviously can't make such comparisons, I can assuredly state that the film looks wonderful. The colors, while not exactly vivid, are bright, the images are sharp, and few if any scratches or smudges are visible to detract from the overall viewing experience. Likewise, the sound is clean, and for the most part clear, enabling the moviegoer to enjoy the film without the annoying static and popping sounds so often found on such older pictures.

    Modern day audiences may be surprised when they see the boxy, TV-like aspect ratio, especially when compared with today's normal 1.85 x 1 (width x height) screen dimensions. Although you initially may be disappointed by the lack of a wide screen treatment for this film -- it's indicative of the way movies were shot before the more common rectangular features of the 1950's and beyond -- the epic story easily diverts one's attention away from such small details.

    And what a sweeping epic it is -- at a running length of more than four hours (including the intermission) -- the film superbly presents a completely involving story, well-written characters, and outstanding direction. Victor Fleming, who also directed "The Wizard of Oz" and some forty other features, was at times overwhelmed by the scope of the project (and quit for several weeks during it), but still managed to deliver an amazing picture with some amazing footage shot by co- cinematographers Ernest Haller and Lee Garmes (who shared an Oscar for their impressive efforts).

    It's not at all surprising that this film has delighted audiences for decades or that it's still the biggest movie in history regarding pure ticket sales. While part of that can obviously be attributed to the story and Fleming's (and a few other mainly uncredited directors) work, for the most part it's the characters and the performers who inhabit them that have made this picture such a longstanding favorite.

    Oscar winner Vivien Leigh (who later went on to win another Oscar for her performance in 1951's "A Streetcar Named Desire") was just twenty-six at the time and beat out many other more seasoned actresses who auditioned for the part. It's hard to imagine anyone else in this role, however, since Leigh so effortlessly makes it her own. Ranging from the flirtatious socialite who always attracts a surrounding horde of men, to her horrified reaction to the war, and finally to a successful businesswoman, Leigh easily commands any scene in which she appears.

    Clark Gable (whose Oscar nomination for this film was his third after "It Happened One Night" -- for which he won -- and "Mutiny on the Bounty") plays the role that would inspire future adventurous and charming characters throughout the ensuing decades (such as "Star Wars'" Han Solo -- both only believe in themselves and run blockades of different sorts). Handsome and featuring a devilishly wicked sense of humor (and some great lines of dialogue courtesy of screenwriter Sidney Howard and others), Gable is extremely fun to watch.

    It's a tremendous delight watching these two performers appear together. Much like the best romantic comedies featuring two "opposite" and bickering characters who can't stand each other -- who we know are ultimately destined to be together -- their scenes playing off each other are a cinematic treat and easily the most enjoyable for the audience.

    Most of the remaining performances are also outstanding, including Hattie McDaniel (who won for Best Supporting Actress), five-time Oscar nominee Olivia De Havilland (with two victories for "The Heiress" and "To Each His Own"), Leslie Howard (a two-time Oscar nominee) and a host of others.

    Only a few complaints can be registered concerning the film. For one, it's a bit too long, and while one might be hard pressed to pick out which scenes to omit, a few probably could have been shortened. One scene that uses rear projection special effects (where Gable and Leigh "ride" in a carriage in front of a movie screen upon which the background is projected) looks quite fake, and spoils the otherwise quite realistic and impressive shots found throughout the film.

    The ending, as romantically tragic as it is, does push the boundaries of melodrama, what with the deaths, marital problems and other soap opera elements all quickly piling up at the end (including a double whammy death that shortchanges the believability of the reactions regarding the first).

    Others may find some of the proceedings (acting styles, the music, etc...) a bit dated for their own tastes (remembering that this is a near sixty-year-old film). For example, at times the near constant orchestral score that echoes the emotions and sentiments of the scenes (heavy on the violins) may be a bit overbearing, annoying or even too quaint for some moviegoers.

    Even so, those are just minor objections for an otherwise tremendously impressive cinematic experience. From the amazing performances to Fleming's incredible direction and awe-inspiring images -- who will ever forget the camera pulling back to show Scarlett standing amidst hundreds of injured soldiers, or her silhoutted carriage dwarfed by the burning of Atlanta -- this is a film that deserves to be experienced on the big screen. A time-tested favorite, we give "Gone With the Wind" a 9 out of 10.

    Although the film wasn't initially rated (it came out before the advent of the MPAA ratings) it has since been rated G. In our opinion, and based on how the MPAA rates other movies, this one should receive a PG rating, if simply for the "thematic elements" (as they so often like to use for their reasoning).

    The war scenes (dead and wounded people, talk of amputating a soldier's leg while he screams, etc...) and other such moments (a little girl dying in a riding accident, the marital problems, etc...) would easily garner a PG rating in any film released today. While not as "realistically" presented as is done in today's movies, some of the events may still be unsettling to younger kids. Therefore, we suggest that you take a look through the material just to make sure.

  • The men at a party drink brandy while talking about the war.
  • Melanie, Ashley, & Scarlett have wine at Christmas.
  • Scarlett finds her father drinking whiskey and takes several swigs herself (and comments that she hopes it makes her drunk -- after returning to Tara and seeing the decimated condition it's in).
  • Rhett, Ashley and another man come home acting drunk, but only to fool some Yankee guards.
  • We see Scarlett drinking brandy and she's somewhat intoxicated.
  • Rhett drinks some sherry and gives some to Mammy.
  • Rhett and Bell drink champagne.
  • Scarlett finds Rhett who's drinking (and admits that he's drunk and plans to get even drunker).
  • We see that Rhett's been drinking again.
  • We occasionally see many wounded or dead people, but none of those moments are bloody or gory.
  • We briefly see a man's very bloody face (after Scarlett shoots him), and then see a trail of blood on the floor as she starts to drag away his body.
  • Ashley has a small, bloody wound on his shoulder.
  • Scarlett has both as she looks down on the lower class people and continuously manipulates others for her own good. She also steals other women's boyfriends and marries them (without loving them) and continually tries to get Ashley throughout the film.
  • Although the film was made in the 1930's and set in the 1860's, some viewers may be offended by some portrayals of African American characters as slaves (serving the white people, fanning the napping young women, etc...) or being called "simple minded" and "darkies."
  • Prissy lies about knowing how to deliver babies.
  • We see people looting the city as everyone flees.
  • Rhett occasionally grabs Scarlett and kisses her against her will (and presumably likewise has sex with her in an unobserved scene).
  • Scarlett's father tells her that she's too lenient with the slaves and that she should be more firm "with the darkies."
  • Scarlett lies to her sister's fiancÚ, Frank Kennedy, and gets him to marry her instead, but only for his money that she'll then use to save Tara from foreclosure.
  • Different men in different scenes attempt to steal Rhett's horse and carriage (that he stole from someone else) as well as one driven by Scarlett.
  • Scenes not listed below that are listed under "Violence" may also be tense to some viewers.
  • Some viewers and younger kids may find the scenes (that aren't bloody) showing all of the dead or wounded soldiers as unsettling. Likewise, they might not like a scene where a doctor states that a man's leg has to be amputated and we hear the man screaming (from pain and fear, but don't actually see the procedure).
  • Scarlett finds herself virtually alone in the city -- as the Yanks are approaching -- with only Prissy to help her deliver Melanie's baby.
  • Some men try to grab Rhett's horse and carriage, and he punches and beats them away. Escaping from them, Rhett, Scarlett and the others must ride through the burning city before some nearby explosives blow up.
  • Scarlett confronts a lone Yankee soldier who's entered her house. Armed, he's trying to steal what's been left, and he slowly and menacingly confronts Scarlett, wanting to know what she's got in her hand. She then whips out her pistol and shoots him point blank in the face. Later, she and Melanie must dispose of the body.
  • Some men grab Scarlett's carriage as she crosses a bridge. As she smacks at them and they try to take the carriage from her, it starts to creep toward the edge. One of her former slaves, however, shows up, hits one of the men and throws another in the creek/river below.
  • During a domestic argument, Rhett pushes Scarlett back down into her chair. He then drunkenly and somewhat menacingly comments that he could tear her apart with his hands and smash her skull.
  • Bonnie dies during a riding accident where she's thrown from her horse.
  • Civil War weapons (canons/guns/swords): Used during the war to injure or kill people, but other than the guns and swords being carried, none are seen used in conflict).
  • Explosives blow up in railroad cars.
  • Pistol: Used by Scarlett to shoot and kill a man carrying his own pistol.
  • Phrases: "Darkies" (what some white people call the slaves), "Shut up," "I hate you," "Wench," "You stupid fool," and what sounded like "Scum."
  • Scarlett gargles with cologne, trying to cover up the smell of liquor on her breath.
  • None.
  • A moderate amount of suspenseful and/or tense music (of the old-fashioned, 1930's style) accompanies some scenes throughout the film.
  • None.
  • 1 damn is used as an exclamation.
  • Scarlett shows some cleavage in her outfits, particularly in one scene where she bends over.
  • There is talk of an unmarried woman bearing a child (that dies).
  • Referring to Rhett, Scarlett says that he looks at her like he knows what she looks like "without my shimmy on."
  • Some cancan dancers show a little cleavage.
  • Rhett likes to hang out with Bell, a "lady of the night" (but we never see any activity).
  • A drunken Rhett forcibly carries Scarlett to her bedroom and presumably forces himself upon her (we don't see anything), but the next morning she appears to be happy that he did.
  • Rhett often smokes cigars during the story.
  • The men at a party smoke cigars.
  • Two of Scarlett's husbands die, but since she didn't love them, there's little grieving on her part.
  • Some family members get bad news about their loved ones from the Battle of Gettysburg.
  • Scarlett learns that her mother died of typhoid (and sees her lying on her death bed).
  • Scarlett watches as her father -- who's gone quite senile -- dies after falling from his horse.
  • Rhett and Scarlett's martial problems grow as the story progresses, they talk about divorce, and Rhett takes their daughter away for a while (where she cries for her mother).
  • They must also deal with their daughter's later accidental death.
  • Melanie's son is quite upset (as are others) when they learn that she's dying.
  • The historical backdrop of the story -- the Civil War.
  • Life in the South before the Civil War on plantations and with slaves.
  • We see the results of a great deal of war related violence (many injured and dead soldiers, etc...), but don't actually see much of it as it occurs).
  • Scarlett slaps Ashley after he states that he's still going to marry Melanie. She then takes a small vase and throws it across the room into a wall, shattering it.
  • We hear sounds of the war in one scene with the thundering boom of canon fire and the resulting explosions.
  • Later we see many men who were injured in the war, but not the actual fighting.
  • A carriage explodes from a canon shot, and later we see many destroyed and damaged buildings.
  • Scarlett slaps Prissy for earlier lying about knowing how to deliver babies.
  • People throw a bench through a storefront window as looting breaks out in Atlanta.
  • Some men try to grab Rhett's horse and carriage, and he punches and beats them away.
  • Many buildings in the city burn and fall to the ground and several railroad cars filled with explosives blow up.
  • Scarlett slaps Rhett for suddenly kissing her.
  • Scarlett violently whips the sickly horse that's barely pulling their carriage and it drops to the ground dead.
  • Scarlett smacks one of her sisters for saying that she hates Tara.
  • Scarlett shoots a menacing intruder point blank in the face, killing him.
  • Scarlett throws a handful of dirt and hits a man -- who wants to buy Tara -- in the face.
  • Some men grab Scarlett's carriage as she crosses a bridge. As she smacks at them and they try to take the carriage from her, it starts to creep toward the edge. One of her former slaves, however, shows up, hits one of the men and throws another in the creek/river below.
  • Yankee guards report that some people were killed and buildings burned in a shantytown (and Ashley, Frank and others were presumably involved -- with Frank reportedly being killed from a gunshot and Ashley returning somewhat injured, but we don't see any of the violence).
  • Rhett kicks open a door and then throws his glass at a painting of Scarlett.
  • During a domestic argument, Rhett pushes Scarlett back down into her chair. He then drunkenly and somewhat menacingly comments that he could tear her apart with his hands and smash her skull. Moments later, he carries her to her bedroom where he presumably forces himself upon her (although the next morning she appears happy that he did).
  • Scarlett accidentally falls down their long stairwell (causing her to miscarry) after she and Rhett get into another argument.
  • Scarlett and Rhett's daughter dies during a riding accident where she's thrown from her horse, and we hear that Rhett ran out and shot the pony that was involved in that accident.

  • Reviewed June 22, 1998

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