Manning, Carol S. “The Belle Gone Bad- and Just Gone.” The Southern Literary Journal. 37.1 (2004). < http://proxy.library.upenn.edu:2298/journals/southern_literary_journal/v037/37.1manning.html>
“The Belle Gone Bad- and Just Gone” offers a critical analysis of the image of the “Southern Bell” throughout history. According to author Carol S. Manning, the “Belle Gone Bad,” popularized by characters like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, is an exaggerated, flirtatious version of the traditional Southern Belle that serves to critique the traditional practice of patriarchy in the South. In traditional literature, the “dark seductress” characters, like “bad belle” Scarlett, generally perishes while the pure, “good belle” survives. However, Margaret Mitchell, along with other feminist writers of the period, reverses this trend, granting strength and ultimate success to their untraditional protagonists.
Manning’s article define the evolution of mythological and romanticized images of Southern women as “Southern Belles” and highlights the characteristics that separates her from the realistic woman of the period. As the most famous Southern Belle in history, Vivien Leigh’s depiction of Scarlett O’Hara serves as the most poignant personification of the glorified Southern woman. Her character that balances a demure disposition with a strong will, and challenges the patriarchal society in which she was raised. While Scarlett’s character is reflective of a “believable” Southern woman of the period, it is important to note the influence of Hollywood melodrama on her character. Such influence undoubtedly adds to the mythic, fairy-tale like aspects of Leigh’s depiction of Scarlett O’Hara.
Cronin, Jan. “The Book Belongs to All of Us: Gone With the Wind as a Postcultural Product.” Literature/Film Quarterly, 35.1 (2007).
Jan Cronin’s article discusses author Margaret Mitchell’s reaction to the film version of her epic novel Gone With the Wind. According to Cronin, Mitchell was upset with the film’s appeal to “old southern mythology,” which diverted from the historical realism Mitchell strived to attain in her novel. In the preface of the film, written by Ben Hecht, Mitchell’s commitment to literary historical accuracy is undermined by a lofty and flowery introduction that appeals to mythic imagery:
“There was a land of Cavaliers and
Cotton Fields called the Old South ...
Here in this pretty world
Gallantry took its last bow ...
Here was the last ever to be seen
of Knights and their Ladies Fair,
of Master and of Slave ...
Look for it only in books, for it
is no more than a dream remembered,
a Civilization gone with the wind ...”
The influence of Hollywood on the screenplay produced a more fairy-tale like script, rather than the “seamless cultural narrative” represented by Mitchell’s novel. Cronin does contend, however, that Mitchell herself is guilty of indirectly appealing to the myth of the “Old South” in her novel, as a major theme throughout the novel is the end of the “Golden Age” of Georgia.
Understanding Mitchell’s response to Selznick’s film adaptation of her epic novel provides a unique insight into the historical accuracy the Hollywood project. As Cronin elucidates, Mitchell’s considerable effort to accurately illustrate the social fabric of Georgia during the Civil War is not entirely translated to the film. Instead, the “South” as understood by Mitchell stands in opposition to Hollywood’s portrayal of the region, thereby producing a film aimed at captivating audiences' hearts and imaginations rather than their minds.
Richardson, Riché. “Southern Horrors, Global Terrors.” Black Renaissance, 7.3 (Fall 2007). 30 Nov. 2008.
Southern Horrors, Global Terrors by Riche Richardson analyzes the manner in which producers D.W. Griffith and David Selznick approached translating the racially-charged novels “The Clansman” and “Gone With the Wind” into film. Both novels, set during the American Civil War and rooted in Southern ideology, utilize virulent racist language to illustrate the pervasive bigotry typical of the South during the War period. Griffith’s 1915 film Birth of a Nation, based on the novel “The Clansman,” retains and advances the novel’s racist elements. In contrast, Selznick’s 1939 film adaptation of Gone With the Wind offers an ostensibly less racially-charged account of the War and Reconstruction than both the film’s literary counterpart and Birth of a Nation. Richardson describes the film version of Gone With the Wind as more “sanitized,” ignoring numerous instances in the novel where popular characters like Rhett Butler and Melanie Wilkes dehumanize and devalue African Americans. Further, Richardson contends that Selznick’s omission of many of Margaret Mitchell’s racist elements is reflective of Hollywood’s contemporary rejection of overt racism as distasteful and morally reprehensible.
In assessing the consistency of Gone With the Wind with the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction, Richardson’s article provides a valuable insight into the nature of racism in the 19th Century South. Both novels advance the Southern ideology of the period that aimed to perpetuate black inferiority to the white supremacist class. As the article illustrates, Griffith chose to accommodate such bigotry in his film, while Selznick chose to “tone down” Mitchell’s racist elements. Selznick’s choice to abandon much of the bigotry that pervades the literary narrative may make the film more appealing to contemporary Hollywood and American culture, but makes the film less reflective of the Southern ideology of the period.
Conde, Mary. “Some African-American Fictional Responses to Gone With the Wind.” The Yearbook of English Studies. 26. (1996) JSTOR. University of Pennsylvania Library. Philadelphia. 1 Dec. 2008. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/3508659>
In her essay, author Mary Conde addresses the African American community’s reaction to Gone With the Wind, and the novel’s writer Margaret Mitchell’s reaction to their criticism. The most common criticism of the novel is that it appealed to a mythic and romanticized ideal of the “Old South” that ignores the atrocities of the Civil War and the practice of slavery. However, Mitchell vehemently denies these accusations, claiming that she herself denies the existence of any rosy Southern ideal. Further, it is important to note that her novel’s protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara, does not support the Confederate cause and, as illustrated by her emotional breakdown in the hospital while treating veterans, is deeply moved by the atrocities war. Despite Scarlett’s dismissal of the Confederate cause as a justification for war, many African Americans continue to dismiss Gone With the Wind as a gross misrepresentation of the era of slavery in the South.
The reaction of the African American community to the Hollywood adaptation of Gone With the Wind provides numerous examples of the historical inconsistencies and myths present in the film. Many of these reactions have taken the form of fictional writing intended to undermine the glorification of the “Old South.” Novels like Dessa Rose and Jubilee depict the black woman’s struggle during the Civil War. In both novels, the protagonists are hideously scarred, and the plot is ridden with violence and exploitation. Such novels stand in direct contrast to Mitchell’s novel, and paint a more realistic, albeit grim, picture of the American South in the Civil War.
Juddery, Mark. “Gone With the Wind.” History Today (Aug. 2008). EBSCO MegaFILE. University of Pennsylvania Library. Philadelphia. 1 Dec. 2008.
In his article “Gone With the Wind,” author Mark Juddery analyzes the impact and popularity of the epic film that has sold more box office tickets than any other film in Hollywood. The 1939 film Gone With the Wind depicts popular American folklore, a search for true love, and a historical account of the “popularly glorified” Civil War. The nostalgia and pride associated with the Civil War, along with a love for Hollywood melodrama in American culture, makes Gone With the Wind an enduring classic that cultivates Southern pride.
However, the success of Gone With the Wind cannot only be attributed to the film’s appeal to the glorified “Old South.” The film was also a great technical achievement. MGM studios pooled considerable resources into the production, filming the work in Technicolor and utilizing spectacular set designs and special effects. The grandiose sets, Selznick argued, “satisfy both the audience’s appetite for glamour and Mitchell’s insistence on authenticity.”
In examining the perennial popularity of Gone With the Wind, one may understand the importance of studying the film’s historical accuracy. As one of the most viewed films in Hollywood history, Selznick’s cinematic adaptation undoubtedly shapes the American understanding of the Civil War and the Antebellum Southern culture.
This article compares the novel, “Gone with the Wind,” with another novel written around the same time, “Absalom, Absalom!” It compares the development of male characters in the novels, Rhett Butler and Quentin Compson. Both novels focus on the aristocracy of the South as well as the Civil War and the ante-bellum south. It looks at the effects of miscegenation on both of the characters development. Both see the influence as negative and it effects how they ultimately view the South and its future.
Railton argues that few essays have focused on bother of the novels and few have focused on race within the novels. He argues that race relations are a very strong theme within both books but it is rarely dealt with in essays about the books. Railton not only compares and contrasts the development of the two male characters. He, also, examines how the two novels fit into the broader spectrum of thought in the 1930’s. He looks at how the two novels interacted with southern historical thought at the time.
This article gives some perspective into the creation of the movie. It delves into the themes of the novel which enter into the film, and gives an analysis of race that is different from many essays. The comparison with “Absalom, Absalom!” also allows for new interpretations of the film as a product of its time.
This article examines the character of Scarlett O’Hara in a psychological sense. It looks over her characteristics and social tendencies in an effort to categorize her psychological personality.
Deeks uses Adler’s four types of people, which are categorized by their interest in society and their manner of gaining or working towards perfection. There are three types that actively seek out their goals as well as avoid outside problems and have low societal interest. They are the ruling type, the getting type and the avoiding type. The last type is the socially useful type, which works well and cooperates with his or her society. Deek argues that Scarlett is the getting type.
Deeks identifies certain characteristics which make this type the most suitable for Scarlett. Scarlett is conniving and manipulative towards everyone around her. She uses people to get what she wants through coercion and seduction. She does not cooperate with those around her or attempt to improve the society which she is a part of. She only works to get what she wants and nothing else. This does not make her happy because she cannot interact with the people around her in a way that is not manipulative.
This article gives a specific view of Scarlett as a character and a human being. It is a psychological examination of a character as a human being and not just a fictional being. That makes the character more tangible and provides a different angle of the film.
This article discusses major themes within the novel and briefly compares them to those of the movie. Beye argues that the novel portrays both blacks and women as slaves to white men within the old southern society. Women are forced into marriage and life of servitude to their husbands. They must play out certain roles and are not permitted to even dress comfortably.
Beye argues that Scarlett struggles to detach herself from this slavery through identification with male characteristics. She does not act as the other docile southern females act. Instead, she is outspoken and predatory. She takes after her father in that she works for what she wants. She is shown and strong and willful and this is what allows her to survive in a society that is collapsing. Scarlett is able to adapt and does not stay in a position of servitude towards men. She realizes soon in the book that she does not need men to succeed. She manages her own business. It is a novel deeply rooted in the feminine perspective. Rhett Butler is not the same character that he is in the movie. Instead, he merely plays the compliment to Scarlett and little else. He is not the same powerful prescience that he is in the movie.
The novel is also seen as more racist in some sense than the movie is. Scarlett seems harsh on the blacks and comes to have a low opinion of them in the end. Beye argues that the connections between Scarlett and the blacks are not the same as the movie. This argument toward the book gives a picture from which to view the movie. It is clear that the movie was not an entirely strict interpretation of the novel.
Today, almost every film receives a big premiere and a grand opening. There is a red carpet and photographers. It is an essential part of the requisite publicity package. The excitement generated by these events attracts people to the theaters and helps boost film revenues. However, at the time Gone with the Wind was produced, it was rare that a film received such fanfare.
Daily Variety provided coverage of the Gone with the Wind premiere and declared it to be one of the biggest premieres of the time. On the front page of the paper, the morning after the premiere, it was reported that the Atlanta "staged the greatest celebration in its history." The theater, the Loew's Grand, was transformed into the Wilkes plantation house. When people passed by the theater they were curious about what was happening and why the facade of the theater had changed. The response which they received generated publicity for the film. Searchlights, which were visible for several miles, let everyone know that it was premiere night. All of the major stars of the film (and others) - Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Olivia de Havilland, Evelyn Keyes, Carol Lombard and Claudette Colbert attended. The theater held 2,019 people on opening night, each of whom paid $10 per seat, with the money going to charity. Producers were also in attendance. The next week, there was another premiere in New York. Even with all of this hoopla, there were disappointments. Everything was neither perfect nor did it run smoothly. The late nights took a toll on executives. All of the fanfare and glamour got in the way of business. Additionally, there were reports of disappointing initial grosses. This was blamed on pre-Christmas shopping and "psychological overselling" - because of all of the publicity, people assumed that there would be long lines and therefore did not even bother to come to the theater. Despite some "brief hiccups" the movie went on to gross $390 million worldwide.
This article is very informative, revealing the inner workings of the industry and psyche of the public at the time. Although society has evolved and experienced many changes, much has stayed the same.
It is amazing that a film could be so successful 70 years ago when there were far fewer venues for promotion and fewer theaters to generate a large gross profit. This article also reveals that the formula for a successful film is very similar to today - the celebrities, the publicity, the promotion, the premiere and the fanfare. It is a formula as old as the movies themselves.
Margaret Mitchell had been working as a reporter for a newspaper when she fell from a horse and was forced to resign. She was confined to her small, one-bedroom apartment which she nicknamed "The Dump." Ms. Mitchell was given a typewriter as a gift in order to occupy herself within the confines of her house. She was told to write "what she knew." Secretly, she began to write a book. Given the endless flow of people and friends who came through her apartment, she found it very difficult to hide the manuscript. It seemed unlikely that the novel would ever be published because she kept it a secret from anyone who would be able to publish it for her. However, Mitchell's friend who worked at a publishing company discovered parts of the novel in Mitchell's home. The friend informed her boss, Harold Latham, of the "masterpiece" she had found. Latham flew to Atlanta and questioned Mitchell regarding the novel. However, Mitchell did not want to turn in the novel to the publisher. She claimed that it was "lousy, and she was ashamed of it." In a brilliant use of reverse psychology, Mitchell's friend said to her, "well, I would never expect that you would write a good novel, you don't take life seriously enough." Mitchell was angered by this, raced home and immediately gave it over to Latham. She said "take it before I change my mind." Latham read the novel and changed the name of the main character to Scarlet. This was the inception of one of the most successful novels in history. Gone with the Wind was finally published on June 30, 1936 and had almost just as much impact on Atlanta as the actual events that were detailed in the book. It sold more copies than any other book except for the Bible.
This is a revealing source which details the way in which the phenomenally successful novel, Gone with the Wind, came into existence. It is amazing to think that its author thought that her creation was "lousy." Additionally, it is fascinating how a true phenomenon can be born out of seemingly mundane events and thoughts. One of the greatest, best-selling books of all time is a product of a leisure project on a typewriter in someone's living room. Mitchell did not sit down with the intent of writing a phenomenon; she was just trying to keep herself busy when she could no longer work as a newspaper reporter.
One most consider the novel, Gone with the Wind, as a precursor to the film. It is important to understand where the novel came from and the thought process of its author. It is further fascinating that the novel was as huge a success as the film. Often, a book is successful and interesting, while the movie version of the novel is not. Margaret Mitchell wrote a novel and spawned a film that entertained in its time, continues to be of interest as a period piece, and will continue to entertain many generations to come.
Gone with the Wind is one of the most popular films of all time. But why is that? The author of this article suggests several reasons. He says that the audience has a love/hate relationship with the film and its characters. This relationship with Gone with the Wind has to do with the ways in which ideas, specifically ones relating to sex and gender are "both referenced and violated" in the film, most specifically, regarding Scarlett O'hara. This article outlines exactly what those criticisms are in order to prove that the audience's relationship with the film stems from the way in which sex and gender are presented.
I found this article to be an alternative view to the traditional exclamation that "Gone with the Wind is the best movie ever, a phenomenon!" It is interesting to contemplate the underlying causes of the relationship which Gone with the Wind has with its audience. The author views the film from a sociological perspective. This is a more intellectual approach to the explanation of the popularity of the film.
It is also interesting to consider the fact that the audience does not always love the film or its characters. This is a more realistic way in which to consider the popularity and impact of Gone with the Wind. Life is not perfect and neither are real people and their life stories. Margaret Mitchell recognized this fact when she wrote the novel. I think that the audience appreciates the fact that the characters are flawed and, therefore, made more real. As a result, there are moments when one loves Scarlett O'hara and other times that she is despised. It is because of this portrayal of human realities that the audience can appreciate the film and accept it as a true rendition of relationships and society.
This article sheds light on two issues. The first, that the relationship that the audience has with the film is complex and not always perfect. The second is that while the film is popular, it is not because it represents pure escape. Rather, people love the film because they can relate to the humanity and truth in the situations portrayed.
This article, by Ben Railton, compares and contrasts two immensely successful novels, Gone with the Wind and Absalom, Absalom!. 1936 was an incredible time for both the historical and Southern novel. The two novels studied are perfect paradigms of this fact. Gone with the Wind and Absalom, Absalom! present many similarities and differences between their key characters and settings. These are "two interpretations of history which were coming into conflict at precisely the moment of this coincidental joint publication."
This article provides a unique view of Gone with the Wind. By comparing the novel to another important work of the time, a very different perspective is presented in light of the historical issues of Absalom, Absalom!. This comparison of the two important novels is a means of understanding the framework of Gone with the Wind from a completely different perspective.
As an influential and important producer, David O. Selznick was involved in enough films to be considered one of the greatest producers of all time. It was his involvement in Gone with the Wind that secured him his place in cinema history.
Initially, Selznick worked for his father's company, Lewis J. Selznick Productions, until it went bankrupt in 1923. Then, in 1926, Selznick moved to MGM and worked as a script reader and assistant story editor. He climbed the ranks to become supervisor of production until he was fired because of constant disagreements with Irving Thalberg, the then head of production. In 1927, Selznick was named production chief at Paramount. After the Depression and salary cuts, he moved to RKO and worked as studio boss. When Irving Thalberg became ill, there were many changes made within MGM in the production area. Louis B. Mayer convinced Selznick to return to MGM (coincidentally, Selznick was married to Mayer's Daughter.) With his new job, Selznick was intent on bringing more prestigious films to the screen.
In 1936, Selznick left MGM to become an independent producer, founding Selznick International Pictures. Gone with the wind was his most memorable film produced at this time. There were many problems that occurred during production of the film. Among the myriad of issues was the involvement of six different directors and the relinquishment of distribution rights to MGM in order to get Clark Gable to star in the movie. In the end, Gone with the Wind won ten Academy Awards and is considered to be one of the most important films ever produced.
After a huge tax debt forced Selznick to auction off his company, he formed a new company, David Selznick Productions. Selznick now became more of a talent scout than a producer. He discovered many successful actors and actresses, including Jennifer Jones. In 1949, Selznick married Jones and gave up his independent producer status. He became "something of a joke for his obsession with his wife," producing mediocre films, certainly nowhere near the quality standards of his previous work. Although he continued to work in Hollywood his preoccupation with his wife's career forced him into the background of the industry. Despite this end to his career, David O. Selznick is a name that is "firmly planted in motion picture history." He was the biggest of independent producers at a time when there was rarely such a thing. This site reveals a detailed history of Selznick, why he is considered to be one of the greatest producers of all time, and his tremendous impact on Gone with the Wind.
It is extremely important to understand the background of a producer in considering the product he creates. Selznick's life experiences and opportunities had tremendous influence on the films he made. David O. Selznick's contributions to Gone with the Wind cannot be minimized in understanding the overall impact of the film and its success. Without him, who knows how the film might have traversed it complicated path? Gone with the Wind would certainly not have become the film as we know it today.
Max Steiner was born in Vienna. His grandfather was a "musical impresario". His godfather was Richard Strauss. For a short time, Steiner studied with Gustav Mahler. Steiner studied violin, trumpet, piano, and organ. From the age of twelve, he conducted concerts and from the age of eighteen, he worked a great deal in Britain. Following the outbreak of the war in Europe, Steiner accepted an invitation to move to New York where he spent many years working on theater production, conducting, orchestrating, and producing arrangements for many shows and musicals. Steiner worked with George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Sigmund Romberg before he moved to Hollywood to work for RKO and then Warner Brothers.
Steiner worked in Hollywood from the 1930's until the 1960's. He worked on several musicals as musical director and is now known primarily as a composer. His work on the scoring of films includes such masterpieces as "Tara's Theme" from Gone with the Wind, which is instantly recognizable. This work is significant in its representation of Tara - the house and plantation - and its important role in the film. Steiner received many Academy Award nominations and won three times. The "Max Steiner Award" was created in his honor for film music which recognizes Steiner's pioneering role in the early development of the craft of score composition.
Max Steiner's music style is highly distinctive. He does not use subtle nuances, but rather, his language is very direct, illustrating the emotion of the film at particular moments in time. Although Steiner has his signature style, he has been known to borrow an idea or melody from other sources. He has also been criticized for "Mickey Mousing" the film. However, Max Steiner made his mark as a pioneer in the composition of music for film. He created several music scores for films, some of which have become renowned for their power and drama, i.e. King Kong.
Steiner was another key component contributing to the success of Gone with the Wind. The blockbuster movie was further enhanced by the powerful score which complemented the intense plot and scenery. This issue illustrates the magnitude of Steiner's influence in the film industry. The public was aware of Steiner's reputation and when his original score for Gone with the Wind was played, the audience instantly recognized it as Steiner's work. This important facet of the film not only contributed to its overall impact, but most certainly helped contribute to its success.
For three days in 1939, celebrities descended on Atlanta, Georgia highlighting the events of the Civil War and its aftermath while overshadowing the events of World War II at the time. This article, written exclusively for About North Georgia by Larry Worthy, details the events of those three days. As with movie premieres today, all of the stars of the movie arrived in town to promote the film. Not only did they come to give interviews and attend the premiere, but they also performed acts of goodwill, such as greeting Civil War veterans, in order to create positive press for the film and its actors. The thought process was that the public would want to see the film if they liked the stars in it.
There were also special events dedicated to the film in order to generate "buzz" and publicity. The "Gone with the Wind ball" attracted a "remarkable" guest list. By the time the day of the premiere arrived, the town was infused with excitement, not only for the film, but also the celebrities. The premiere was a huge event at the Loew's Grand Theater. There were celebrities galore, spotlights sweeping the sky, traffic closures, and a crowd of about 300,000. People waited to get a glimpse of their favorite celebrity as they emerged form their chauffer driven limousines to give radio interviews. Four and a half hours later the premiere was over. The film's stars went on to another premiere in New York the following week. A little known fact surrounding the New York premiere is that Laurence Olivier proposed to Vivien Leigh on the flight out and she accepted. The glitz and glamour of the Gone With The Wind premiere seventy years ago was unique in its time but has remained a standard for movie premieres even today.
Gone with the Wind is a film that continues to be relevant because of the time period portrayed, its social influences, and overall importance in the history of film. The release of Gone with the Wind on DVD is significant for a number of reasons. The enhancement of the actual film and the special features added make the DVD an important addition to any film library and just as significant as the film's initial release.
Included in the DVD's content is an in depth interview with Olivia de Hallivand, who plays Melanie. She was nominated for an Academy Award, however, she lost to Hattie McDaniel, who played Mammy. (There is speculation that the reason McDaniel won was as compensation for not being invited to the movie's Atlanta premiere.) In de Hallivand's interview, she reveals the chaos which occurred behind the scenes during the production of the film. For example, directors and writers came and went with alarming frequency.
The most impressive part of the DVD, which makes the DVD "vital and gorgeous", is the attempt to revert to the quality of the original Technicolor process in which the film was shot. The evolution of Technicolor is a significant facet of film history. Gone with the Wind was to be the test of the new Technicolor technology. The production of the film centered around brilliance and contrast of color as well as intricate scenery shots. Much of the original impact of the film lay in the quantity and quality of color schemes throughout the production. As the technology of film progressed, Technicolor was deemed old fashioned and new technology improved upon the once spectacular visions produced by the once unique color delivery system. The Gone with the Wind DVD has resurrected the original screen's Technicolor version of the film.
I feel that it is of great significance and interest for today's audience to see the film just as it was presented in its original form. The use of Technicolor had a significant impact on the audience of the time. Every aspect of a film contributes to the way in which an audience views, comprehends, and appreciates the film. With all the technology available today for production quality enhancement, it is important to have the ability to revert back to the original film version and screen it in its purest form. With every generation producing new audiences with interest in the film, the release of the DVD has made this important piece of film history readily accessible to an even wider audience. The attraction of the DVD lies in its special features. For film buffs and people who are knowledgeable about the history of film and production values, the remastering of Gone with the Wind in Technicolor is an important feature which, perhaps, trumps all of the other aspects of the DVD.