Thursday, December 15, 2020 Smile of the Day: Gone with the Wind
On this Day:
On December 15, 1939, Gone with the Wind premiers in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from the 1936 novel by Margaret Mitchell. The film was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures and directed by Victor Fleming. Set in the American South against the backdrop of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era, the film tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner. It follows her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes, who is married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, and her subsequent marriage to Rhett Butler. The leading roles are played by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett), Clark Gable (Rhett), Leslie Howard (Ashley), and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie).
Production was difficult from the start. Filming was delayed for two years because of Selznick’s determination to secure Gable for the role of Rhett Butler, and the “search for Scarlett” led to 1,400 women being interviewed for the part. The original screenplay was written by Sidney Howard and underwent many revisions by several writers in an attempt to reduce it to a suitable length. The original director, George Cukor, was fired shortly after filming began and was replaced by Fleming, who in turn was briefly replaced by Sam Wood while Fleming took some time off due to exhaustion.
The film received positive reviews upon its release in December 1939, although some reviewers found it to be too long. The casting was widely praised, and many reviewers found Leigh especially suited to her role as Scarlett. At the 12th Academy Awards, it received ten Academy Awards (eight competitive, two honorary) from thirteen nominations, including wins for Best Picture, Best Director (Fleming), Best Adapted Screenplay (posthumously awarded to Sidney Howard), Best Actress (Leigh), and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, becoming the first African American to win an Academy Award). It set records for the total number of wins and nominations at the time.
Gone with the Wind was immensely popular when first released. It became the highest-earning film made up to that point, and held the record for over a quarter of a century. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the highest-grossing film in history. It was re-released periodically throughout the 20th century and became ingrained in popular culture. Although the film has been criticized as historical revisionism glorifying slavery, it has been credited with triggering changes in the way in which African Americans are depicted cinematically.
The film is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time; it has placed in the top ten of the American Film Institute’s list of the top 100 American films since the list’s inception in 1998. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
When she met her match, their love was set on fire.
Second, a Song:
The score for Gone With The Wind was written by Max Steiner. The American Film Institute ranked Steiner’s score for Gone with the Wind (1939) at #2 on their list of the 25 greatest film scores.
Maximilian Raoul Steiner (May 10, 1888 – December 28, 1971) was an Austrian-born American music composer for theatre and films, as well as a conductor. He was a child prodigy who conducted his first operetta when he was twelve and became a full-time professional, either composing, arranging, or conducting, when he was fifteen.
Steiner worked in England, then Broadway, and in 1929, he moved to Hollywood, where he became one of the first composers to write music scores for films. He is referred to as “the father of film music”, as Steiner played a major part in creating the tradition of writing music for films, along with composers Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann, and Miklós Rózsa.
Steiner composed over 300 film scores with RKO Pictures and Warner Bros., and was nominated for 24 Academy Awards, winning three: The Informer (1935); Now, Voyager (1942); and Since You Went Away (1944). Besides his Oscar-winning scores, some of Steiner’s popular works include King Kong (1933), Little Women (1933), Jezebel (1938), and Casablanca (1942), though he did not compose its love theme, “As Time Goes By”. In addition, Steiner scored The Searchers (1956), A Summer Place (1959), and Gone with the Wind (1939), which is the film score for which he is best known.
The theme that is most associated with the film today is the melody that accompanies Tara, the O’Hara plantation; in the early 1940s, “Tara’s Theme” formed the musical basis of the song “My Own True Love” by Mack David (per Wikipedia).
Thought for the Day:
“I felt ‘Gone with the Wind’ would last five years, and it’s lasted over 70 and into a new millennium. There is a special place in my heart for that film and Melanie. She was a remarkable character – a loving person – and because of that, she was a happy person. And Scarlett, of course, was not.” – Olivia De Havilland
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2020 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky