Happy Monday, everybody! When I’m not writing novels, I loves me some movies! I’ve have about nine hundred titles in my DVD collection, thanks to constant visits to used DVD stores and a steadfast refusal to fully embrace streaming technology. (What can I say? I like looking at the DVD box art.)
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, every week I’m going to take the time to break out a film in my collection and screen it. I decided to pick the oldest movie in my collection, which happens to be from 1939. Next week, I’ll move forward to 1940 or so, and choose a movie that either (A) I’ve never seen before or (B) I’ve haven’t watched in years.
This weekend, I watched the oldest movie in my collection. I've enjoyed GONE WITH THE WIND for the first time. I’ve never seen it before, and I feel a little guilty calling myself a movie fan when I haven’t even watched the most sweeping epic of the 20th century. It’s been sitting in my collection for about a year now, and I thought it was time to give it a view.
Although I wrote a film review column back in high school, I’m not going to attempt to make a film review of my movies here in my blog. This movie has already been extensively covered by wiser and more eloquent reviewers than myself in the past---hell, whole books have been written about the movie. So what would be the point? Instead, I’ll just share all the passing thoughts and observations I had while watching this interminably long movie for the first time.
1. So the movie starts with an overture? I believe that’s French for “You have time to get more snacks and soda before the actual movie starts. Yowza!”
2. George Reeves, the actor who played Superman in the 1950s television series, sure looks strange with red hair and pantaloons. I’m not kidding, that’s him as one of the Tarleton twins in the opening scene. It was literally the only reason, as a kid, I was remotely interested in checking this film out.
3. I have to question whether or not the house servants, even the ones as apparently well treated as slaves on the O’Hara plantation, were really that jolly and happy in their jobs. We could get into a whole ‘nother deeper debate about that…let’s just move on.
4. Scarlett O’Hara says “Oh, Fiddle-dee-dee” so often, I wanted to make a drinking game out of it.
5. Wow. Scarlett O’Hara changes her mind about men more than she says “Oh, Fiddle-dee-dee.” Fickle tramp.
6. Rhett Butler seems to chuckle at anything. Seriously, Scarlett could be calling him a filthy whore mongering alcoholic, and he would just laugh it off. New drinking game rule! Take a shot every time Rhett chuckles at something she says.
7. So…yeah. Scarlett marries Melanie’s brother Charles, and then he immediately dies from pneumonia, like, a few seconds later into the film. Even Goldie Hawn’s short marriage in Private Benjamin lasted longer than that.
8. I’ve never lived in Georgia, so I don’t have a particular affinity for the Confederate states and how they lived their lives. But a half-hour into the movie, as we come to the ball where Rhett bids on a chance to dance with Scarlett in a charity auction, even I have to admit there’s a certain charm and beauty to the genteel folk of the Civil War era. I'm starting to appreciate the film at this point.
9. Okay, straight up? Prissy’s voice makes me want to bang my head against a wall. She’s a great character, but her screechy voice? Gah!
10. When I first started watching the movie, I saw Scarlett as a fickle, self-centered young girl. As I got to the end of the first act----the delivery of Melanie’s baby, the death of Scarlett’s mother, the annihilation of both Atlanta and Tara, the rows and rows of dead Confederate soldiers in the streets, the attack by the rogue soldier, and the scene where Scarlett sadly munches (and gags) on the turnips in her destroyed fields----I saw Scarlett convincingly grow from a spoiled girl to a determined woman. Vivien Leigh totally deserved her Oscar. I’m hooked now, let’s grab a snack and head on into Act 2!
11. I had to pause the movie and run to Google to refresh my memory on what a Carpetbagger was. History class seems like it was so long ago.
12. Oh, Scarlett?! I know you swore to never go hungry again, but you flat out stole your sister’s fiancé to pay the taxes on Tara? That’s cold, girl. That would get you and your sister Suellen a guest spot on Jerry Springer.
13. I really could have lived without seeing Bonnie’s accident towards the end of the movie. It’s going to be a long time before I let Cameron get on a horse now. Or at least, allow my elementary-school-aged daughter jump fences!
14. My favorite character was probably Melanie, played by Olivia de Havilland. Sympathetic, kind and pretty, she was the one who deserved the most happiness. GONE WITH THE WIND is a 75-year-old movie. Imagine my surprise to discover that this actress is actually still alive at age 100! Seriously, look it up! More than any of the others, she truly did discover that tomorrow is another day!
15. Hattie McDaniel fully deserved her Oscar award for her portrayal of Mammy. But seeing snippets of GONE WITH THE WIND televised when I was a kid, I was always convinced that she was also the woman chastising her cat in the original Tom and Jerry cartoons.
16. All kidding aside, I’m glad I watched it. For a film from 1939, I was constantly surprised at the sumptuous details, cinematography and costuming. Plus, now that I’ve seen Scarlett O’Hara destroy her curtains to make a suitable dress to attend a fancy party, I finally get the joke from that old Carol Burnett sketch. So it’s a relief to get that mystery that’s confused me for twenty years finally resolved.
Now, can someone just give me the cliff notes for the follow-up novel SCARLETT?
I’m just not up for watching a sequel featuring the warrior chick from Willow and a former James Bond. Cheers, y'all!
John Yeo Jr. is the author of Mama Sauveterre's Curiosity Shoppe, and The King's Tournament. Both of his books are available at Amazon. His new book, The Infinite League, will be available in June 2017.