Gregg, Jill. "David Selznick." St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture, 2002. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g1epc/is_bio/ai_2419201091>.
Gone with the Wind was David Selznick’s biggest claim to fame as a producer. However, he produced several other films, first as a member of a family production company, and later changing between production companies such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Paramount, and RKO. It was not an easy task producing Gone with the Wind, as he was faced with issues regarding casting and multiple directors. In order to get Clark Gable to pay Rhett Butler, he had to give up distribution rights to other production companies. Even finding the female lead was hard work, although it did pay off in the end. After auditioning lines of women in Hollywood, it was decided that Vivian Leigh was the best to play the role of Scarlett O’Hara. The film provided Selznick with 10 Academy Awards to place under his belt, and is still one of the most well-known films of our time.
Selznick did a terrific job in producing the film, especially in regard to the roles he cast. Having read the novel by Margaret Mitchell, audience viewers found the woman cast as Scarlet O’Hara to be just as they had imagined her. This parallel quality is what contributed to the success of both the novel and the film, allowing individuals to create visions while reading and then see them displayed on the screen while watching the movie.
Adams, Amanda. “Painfully Southern”: Gone with the Wind, the Agrarians, and the
Battle for the New South.” The Southern Literary Journal, 40 (2007). .
This article, written by Amanda Adams, describes a popular consensus among men that Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Gone with the Wind, was biased towards the perspective of the female, neglecting to include certain political issues that were pertinent to the Civil War period. It is implied that many individuals believe that the popularity of the novel was due to increased readership by women because of the gender of the author. While writing the novel, Mitchell was not focused on the political happenings in the Confederate states; instead, she was trying to restore an image of the American South through detailed descriptions of the area, people, and culture. The setting of the novel is northern Georgia, which introduces diversity not only through race but also through social and economic status. Since the novel was set in her hometown, Mitchell was well versed with the area. The article continues to discuss the topic of whether or not the book describes the South as a progressive area or an area that is stuck within an old culture and values.
After Mitchell's novel was made into a film, there were still negative sentiments felt regarding the lack of portrayal of the politics, or more male-dominating issues regarding the Civil War and Reconstruction period. Many critics found it troubling that the entire structure was dominated by women, with the story of the film written by a female, the leading character played as a southern female, and the novel and film attracting a generally female crowd. However, the novel and the film show the dedicated participation of Scarlett O’Hara in the Reconstruction years, with Scarlett helping to rebuild and expand the city of Atlanta.
Railton, Ben. “What Else Could a Southern Gentleman Do?: Quentin Compson, Rhett Butler, Miscegenation.” The Southern Literary Journal, 35.2 (2003). .
Ben Railton draws both comparisons and stark contrasts between two eminent novels that emerged in 1936, Gone with the Wind and Absalom, Absalom! Both novels serve as introspections into the history of the southern states, racial tensions, and the sentiments and characteristics of individuals who have had experience with the “Old South” lifestyle at some point in time. Both novels have been reprimanded for the lack of a more thorough inclusion of race and other pertinent issues aside from love and daily life. However, there is more criticism regarding racial factors in Absalom, Absalom than in Gone with the Wind. The emergence of both novels around the same time helped in reinforcing similar concepts and ideas, while also introducing diverse viewpoints from two completely different authors. I found that one of the most interesting aspects of the article was the similarity drawn between both protagonists in the novels, Scarlett O’Hara and Thomas Sutpen.
This article provided information regarding a new novel that was complementary to the story of Gone with the Wind, providing a new perspective on another author’s thoughts and experiences regarding the American South during the Civil War Period. It was interesting to find that the use of African American characters to coincide with white protagonists, for example the interaction between Mammy and Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, was actually not unique to that story but had been a key factor in American novel and film production for many years. The innocence and naiveté that Margaret Mitchell has been criticized to demonstrate in Gone with the Wind in regard to racial tensions and discrimination is found mainly in the second half of the story, during the Reconstruction period; these sentiments are made even more apparent when contrasted with other novels of the era in which authors confront such questions boldly and without much hesitation.
Chaplin, Joyce. “Slavery and the Principle of Humanity: A Modern Idea in the Early Lower South.” Journal of Social History, 24 (1990).
This article, written by Joyce Chaplin and printed in the Journal of Social History, describes the change in treatment and sentiment regarding African Americans. Initially subjecting African Americans to forms of physical abuse and bondage, whites, particularly those in South Carolina and Georgia, eventually began to realize that slaves were also people and therefore did not deserve forms of inhumane treatment. In the following years, blacks were subject to exploitation through social, political, and psychological means. While it was agreed that blacks deserved proper treatment, they were still not seen as equals with whites in regard to intelligence and social or political conscience. This resulted in the withholding of certain rights and privileges from African Americans, controlling the amount of education they were able to receive and keeping contributions to society to a minimum. The implementation of humane treatment produced less harmful methods of punishing slaves; however, these methods were still quite efficient in regard to the purpose of controlling the behaviors of the slaves.
Gone with the Wind tends to depict the general treatment of slaves as humane, and the viewer sometimes feels as though the slaves are content with their status, rarely plotting to escape from the slave-owner and family. The slaves are, however, portrayed as being of low intelligence compared to the rest of the white characters in the novel. This is due to the oppression of slaves in regard to their minimal exposure to education and classes of higher social standing. While it is rare to find signs in the novel or film of owners physically harming their slaves, the film producers did a bit of injustice because such actions did exist occasionally. Again, this is one of the biggest critics of the Gone with the Wind as both a popular novel and film.
Adams, Jesse. “Local Color: The Southern Plantation in Popular Culture.” Cultural Critique, 42 (1999). .
This article by Jessica Adams examines the symbolism and role of plantations in the history of the American South and the Civil War. The presence of plantations resulted in the need for slaves or cheap labor to maintain the land, which was often a large source of agriculture. Therefore plantations, which are markers of southern history, were grounds for the establishment of issues such as racism and slavery. Today, enthusiastic tourists visit some of the existing plantations in order to directly observe the land where much of American history was defined. During the period of the War, it was common to see African Americans working outside of the plantation, picking cotton or cultivating other crops. Inside, however, the whites were found within aesthetically pleasing rooms, drawing a clear line between the slaves and the slave-owners.
The film Gone with the Wind gave many Americans insight into the southern mentality; however, throughout the film this mentality transforms into values that can be found across the nation. Towards the end of the Civil War, the symbolism of the plantation moves from the manual labor of slaves to the manual labor of the people usually found inside the plantations. The protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara, receives a drive to keep enduring the hardships and concludes the film with the statement, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” This final sentence shows the extent as to how much Scarlett has matured throughout the course of the war, especially since the beginning of the film shows her giggling and flirting with two brothers. This transformation made Scarlett a paragon for feminist qualities in the eyes of southern women, both white and African American.
Flinn, John. “Gone with the Wind, 1939.” Independent, The London 29 June 2007.
The filming and final production of Gone with the Wind was a long process, taking nearly one year to complete. The film emerged in 1939, three years after the novel was published by Margaret Mitchell. This major hit had no problem succeeding in theaters, attracting masses of audiences with each screening. One negative aspect was the length of the film, approximately three hours and 37 minutes, but it was agreed that there would be no cuts in order to incorporate all aspects of the novel. Some criticized the film, stating that there was no need to include lines from the original book in verbatim. After encountering both pieces of work, it is apparent that the critics lost, with the lines in the film accurately reflecting the lines found in the novel. The work and precision that went into the production of the film can also be seen within the casting of characters. Both Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, played by Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable, physically and mentally resemble the essence of the characters that readers had previously imagined.
The inclusion of certain lines from the novel, however, proved to be profitable. Generations after generations were able to quote and recognize Rhett Butler’s famous line to Scarlett, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” While most stories that are created go on to become either popular novels or popular films, Gone with the Wind is unique in that the foundation of Margaret Mitchell’s story was turned into both a successful novel and cinema.