Sunday, December 1, 2013

1939 - GONE WITH THE WIND, is half a good film.

I was less impressed with this viewing (which will be my last) of David Selznick's super production.  The story of the making of this film is very well documented and chiefly focuses on Selznick's detailed and obsessive perfectionism throughout the making of the film.

Selnick hired George Cukor to direct the film.  Cukor spent two years preparing the film and filmed for about 3 weeks at which point Selznick fired him.  Victor Fleming who was filming The Wizard of Oz at the time was pulled off of that film and reassigned to Gone With The Wind.  Fleming hated Selznick's guts but stayed through most of the film but finally dropped out supposedly from exhaustion.

Sam Wood wrapped up directing the film.  The production designer William Cameron Menzies appears to have directed pieces of the film in particular the burning of Atlanta sequences.  It's generally thought the Menzies was the person responsible for bringing any consistent look to the film considering all the cooks mixed up in this film.

The chief problem with Gone With The Wind is the script.  After going thorough practically every screenwriter in Hollywood, Selznick hired Ben Hecht to revise it while filming was actually going on.  Hecht only agreed to work on the film for a week and he apparently rewrote the first part which is the best part of the film.  The second half of the film was apparently written by Selznick and it's one disjointed soap opera like scene after another.  The Scarlet O'Hara love stuff where she carries the torch for Ashley Wilkes really makes watching the film a major effort. 

Gone With The Wind is saved by it's extremely impressive cast.  Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard are excellent.  However, what really holds this very long film together is Vivian Leigh.  It would be hard to imagine how this film would have been without her in the lead.

238 minutes

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