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Review: Gone With The Wind

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I went to see Gone With the Wind today at the Paramount. I am now profoundly disturbed. Unbeknownst to me, the screening was heavily attended by a group of pathetic rednecks who decided to hoot and holler every time anything vaguely anti-Northern came on. I nearly vomited when the crowd cheered Scarlett shooting the union deserter. They weren’t cheering her killing a potential attacker, they were cheering her killing a Yankee. I was born and raised in Texas, yet this outlook still baffles me. What is it that makes southerners hold onto their Civil War heritage? To me this is a blight on the history of the south, not something that should be held up as a positive.

I wasn’t much happier with the film itself. Shockingly I had never seen GWTW before, and its blatant and pervasive racism caught me off guard. To me the idea that any aspect of the so-called genteel ante-bellum life should be held onto is disgusting. This society has nothing worth reminiscing over.

The film is actually fairly weak in my opinion. Strong performances from Gable and Leigh and great cinematography make it watchable, but it is little more than three and a half hours of melodrama. I really think that the only reason that the film is still watched is by the klan crowd and for its ability to maintain itself over its running time.

Gable, however, is a God of cool.


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About Jesse Trussell

  • Eric Berlin

    Jesse — So we can surmise that the Paramount is located in Texas?

    I think it’s a very good, if not great film, myself (true northern Yank and Yankee fan that I am). It does present some antiquated stereotypes of race (the subservient yet sunshiny house slave, etc.) but I don’t recall it being much worse than that.

    I get more caught up in Scarlett’s story, myself, which is quite a good one.

  • Sarah

    GWTW is one of the most enduring pieces of cinema history and is worth seeing even purely based upon this. I appreciate that the racial stereotypes and prejudices are confronting however I think that the film itself is incidentally racist, true period in which it is set – the Civil War.

    The movie is based around the spectacular book by Margaret Mitchell (which I strongly recommend reading for further characterisation of Scarlett which the film neglects) and the plot is not, in my opinion, pure melodrama but rather an inspiring story of one woman’s courage and will to survive despite the formidable odds against her.

    Personally (as neither Yankee nor Redneck), I think that the film is among the best ever made. It appeals to the lowest common denominator with love, lust and violence and also those who are more sophisticated with it’s exploration of the complex relationship between the two protagonists as well as Max Stiner’s beathtaking score which adds another dimension to the film.

    GWTW is a film everyone should see, purely so they can form their own opinion of it. Love it, hate it or endure it, this is one of the few classic films people are still talking about more than sixty-five years after it was completed.

    Oh and yes, Gable IS the God of cool.

  • Rob

    I have tried to watch this film 3 or 4 times and gave up after 20 minutes. The acting seems so hammy, you know, overdone to me. I couldn’t stand it. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of many films made during that era for the same reason. Everything seems over-acted and unnatural.

  • Rodney Welch

    Has it ever occurred to you that your own favorite movies may be “over-acted” and “unnatural,” you just don’t realize it, and that maybe your grandchildren will?

    It’s an immature criticism launched by young people against movies guilty of being made before they were born, which can also be said of Jesse’s clueless review.

    I don’t think GWTW is a great film, but it’s a vastly entertaining one — and it seems somehow aesthetically wrong to hold the racial attitudes of the 1930s against it. Yes, I blanch at watching the black stereotypes, but that doesn’t take away from the great wonderful sprawl of the story, which is compelling from start to finish.

    Weirdly, Jesse seems to have enjoyed himself and hated himself for doing so. His statement that “the only reason that the film is still watched is by the klan crowd and for its ability to maintain itself over its running time” is confusing. Isn’t that like saying only a racist would sit through such an interesting movie?

    one the one hand he wants to say that only racists watch it, on the other hand he finds it compelling.

    you don’t have to be a racist to find it vastly entertaining
    The film is actually fairly weak in my opinion. Strong performances from Gable and Leigh and great cinematography make it watchable, but it is little more than three and a half hours of melodrama. I really think that

    movie is just an assemblage of racist attitudes

  • Jesse Trussell

    Now that I’ve had a chance to put a little distance between myself and the film, I find an interesting thing occurring. Cinema is such an interesting art form because for all the individuality of the viewing, it’s the unspoken community of the theater that really sets many of our emotions, at least in my case.

    Seeing this film with an audience that had what I consider to be an appalling reaction left me with such a negative taste in my mouth that this piece was my immediate response. I had such a strong reaction agaist how I perceived them that it affected my ability to look at the film. Now that I am removed more from the external forces that turned me off, and after taking a little more time on my second review, I see GWTW slightly differently. While it definitely bears many of the unfortunate marks of its time, this is also an undeniable achievement in good ol’ Hollywood spectacle. When you can pack a film with half a dozen Oscar worthy performances you are doing something right.

    I’d like to thank everybody who has posted for helping me to remember to take a step back before I go.

    Oh and in case anybody ever comes to Austin, TX try to see a movie at the majestic Paramount theater. Such an amazing place.

  • Chris Kent

    I’m sort of with Jesse here Rodney, though you make some good points. After hearing so much about Gone With the Wind (GWTW), I sat down one evening and watched it on television many years ago (though not the night it played against Elvis and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

    I was rather stunned at its overwhelming mediocrity. I have always thought the legend of GWTW was far more interesting than the film itself – multiple directors, larger-than-life actors, one of the first films in color, gigantic budget. I understand and applaud the timeless appeal of other films made during this era including The Yearling, Wizard of Oz, It Happend One Night, Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights, The Philadephia Story, but GWTW puzzles me. There are some grand set pieces and Clark Gable is a hoot – though calling him the King of Cool is like calling Henry Fonda a real hip cat. Sorry folks, but Brando, Dean, Clift, Bogart and McQueen are the kings of cool…..

    Anyway, I find this film to be melodramatic, unbelievable and so corny as to make me vomit. The film has not aged well in my opinion. It is sexist, racist and woodenly acted by a limited supporting cast. I think Hollywood to this day still hangs it hat on the “GWTW Greatness” hook simply because it made many, many people filthy rich. It was great escapism for a Depression-era, WW II-hovering, emotionally troubled crowd.

    Perhaps it was one of the first films to make moviegoing a grand experience, on the level of IMAX or 3D in later years – this was before television. But in terms of sophistication or wit, this film receives very low marks. I wouldn’t even list it as one of the 50 greatest films ever made.

  • Al Barger

    Jesse, this seems more a review of the audience than the movie, but that’s pretty interesting, too. Even beyond that, you seem to have initially choked on your own racial issues such as to miss the actual movie.

    But you come back nicely in these comments, trying to think it through, revising and extending your remarks thoughtfully.

    Overall, an excellent first effort. Welcome to Blogcritics!

  • Scott Butki

    I’m not a doctor nor do a play one on tv but I do do movie reviews and here’s my prescription from one blogcritics newcome to another:

    Watch old movies like this at home
    on dvd. This is what I’ve done as I’ve gone through and watched the movies reviewed in a great book called
    100 essential movies.

    There are two benefits:
    1) You watch it alone without the distracted biased opions of others for or against it.

    2) Most dvds for classic movies have a commentary that helps place the period piece in perspective.

    Take, for example, Chaplin’s movie about Hitler. The movie talks about how dangerous and crazy it seemed at the time for Chaplin to take on the dictator whereas now it looks dated and funny in parts but akward too.

    That’s my 3 cents (thats two cents adjusted for inflation but with a tax cut)

  • Al Barger

    Ah yes, The Great Dictator, Chaplin’s heroic failure.

  • Scott Butki

    Great piece on that wonderful movie.
    You said much more than I did in my short review which should be posted tomorrow.

  • Bob A. Booey

    Is this that new movie starring those cute boys Will Ferrell, Jimmy Fallon, and Adam Sandler?

    That is all.

  • Gruble

    Ugh – another white-guilt interpretation of an american classic. Take your mealy-mouth immature nonsense to another country if you have to fixate so much on “Racism”. You make me sick – and you are a shitty reviewer.