Gone But Not Forgotten
Seventy years ago this month Gone With the Wind won the Oscar for Best Picture. We spoke with Charlotte-born film critic Molly Haskell, author of Frankly, My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited (Yale University Press), about the film's biggest surprises and why the movie should have been a flop.
What made you decide to write the book?
When I was approached by a publisher [to write the book] I had to seriously think about whether to do it. I had questions about the film's messages, but you ultimately realize that it's accurately depicting the way particular people felt at the time. Viewers, including myself, are just amazed at Vivien Leigh's performance as Scarlett O'Hara. She doesn't reform, is basically antiromantic and antimarriage. She even steals her sister's boyfriend! But we admire her fierce independence, and the fire behind Leigh's eyes is impossible to ignore.
What would surprise people the most about the movie?
It had five directors, fifteen screenwriters, and Leigh was cast at the last moment. This movie could have been an absolute failure.
Hattie McDaniel's performance also seemed to open doors, didn't it?
It's incredible that despite some of the film's viewpoints, it yielded the first Academy Award for an African American. She holds her own against Leigh -- not an easy thing to do.