Was Gone With The Wind really their best film

Discussion of the actors, directors and film-makers who 'made it all happen'

Moderators: Sue Sue Applegate, movieman1957, moira finnie, Lzcutter

stuart.uk
Posts: 1805
Joined: January 21st, 2008, 12:25 pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland

Was Gone With The Wind really their best film

Post by stuart.uk »

While i accept Gone With The Wind is a truly great film, i believe it to be a little overrated, particulary the ending. i get the impression that Margaret Mitchell after writing the great epic wanted to tie up the loose ends. i feel to much happened in such a short space of time. Scarlett's miscarraige, Bonnie's death, Rhett's nervous breakdown, Melenie's death and finally Rhett leaving Scarlett. i felt Rhett and Scarett made astonishing recovery's after Bonnie's funeral to be at Melanie's deathbed 3 days later. the last straw for Rhett appeared to be when Scarlet comforted Ashley just before Melanie's death, something i felt was perfectly acceptable for her to do.

as to my question was Gone With The Wind really the best film all the main players were ever associated with. IMO only Hattie McDaniel as Mami gave her career best performance. she played it in such a way that despite being a slave, then a housekeeper, she was like a second mother to her mistress, whom she knew a good deal better than Scarlett's actual mother.

Clark Gable, though great as Rhett, i think was better in San Francisco, Test Pilot, then in his later Teacher's Pet. there maybe other films, but i haven't seen a lot of Clark's work.

to be fair i would say Vivien Leigh's 2nd best performance was as Scarlett, but i think her best was as unemployed Ballet dancer Myra in Waterloo Bridge, who after beleiving her great love Robert Taylor was dead turned to prostitution inorder to put food on the table.

in the case of the second leads i actually don't like it said that GWTW was their best film. Olivia De Havilland was i believe much better in They Died With Their Boots On, The Strawberry Blonde and To Each His Own. before GWTW Leslie Howard gave better performances in The Scarlett Pimpernel, Stand In and Pygmalion. likewise he was still better when he returned to the UK and made his propaganda war movies like Pimpernel Smith and The First Of The Few. while i liked Leslie as Ashley, i can't help but wonder if a young David Niven, though not the star Howard was at that point, could have been a more realistic Ashley, considering he'd be nearer the character's age

in 1939 Thomas Mitchell, who played Scarlett's father in GWTW, was the yrs most successful actor. i thought him better in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Only Angels Have Wings and of course his Oscar Winning Doc Boone in Stagecoach.

maybe dosen't count, but in a supporting role was Jane Darwell who hit her own one hit wonder jackpot a yr later as Ma Joad in Grapes Of Wrath
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Stuart, the book Gone With The Wind is a very long one. A great deal of the story was either modified or left out to make the movie, but I don't think the movie takes anything away from the book - it's big and excellent in its own way (the book is one of America's better mass market novels and is still read today). It's very likely that the makers of the film assumed that everyone had already read the book (a fantastically successfull best-seller in its day) before they saw this movie. You might draw an analogy to the Harry Potter book vs. movie experience.

I think you should bear in mind that America looks at this movie through a different lens than does the rest of the world. We are not just seeing an epic color movie with big stars; we are seeing our history, for better or worse. Not everyone loves Gone With the Wind (I do), but I think most American movie lovers would agree that it is a very important film to us in terms of American cinema and culture.
stuart.uk
Posts: 1805
Joined: January 21st, 2008, 12:25 pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland

Post by stuart.uk »

Judith

i am keen on both British and American history. i enjoyed a great doc about The American Civil War. in movie terms it made me see Buster Keaton's The General in a greater light, as it's a movie, despite its great gags, comes over as a realistic war story. i think Gone With The Wind does give an acurate view of what life was like in the deep south pre and post Civil War. one think i noticed was the similiarity between Ashley in GWTH and Patrick Swayze's Orry in North And South, in that both were sympathetic to their slaves, unlike past generations before them

i loved Centenial and its 200 yr history of the State of Colorado. Northwest Passage is also a fav, as it's pretty close to acurate, regarding Roger's Rangers trek to the St. Francis River and back again. Roots and Roots The Next Generation are great history lessons of what life was like in 19th century America and it was from The African American point of view

as far as Britain is concerned i love watching docs about The Monarcy. Elizabeth The 1st is an interesting character. a recent film Amazing Grace tells of Britain's involvement with the slave trade
User avatar
charliechaplinfan
Posts: 9087
Joined: January 15th, 2008, 9:49 am

Post by charliechaplinfan »

I too love both the book and the movie. The film is a good representation of the book. The time scale that everything happens in at the end may seem squashed but it is a means to an end, the end of Rhett and Scarlett's marriage, the end of Rhett's love for Scarlett and the beginning of her's for him.

I wouldn't like to say how accurate Margaret Mitchell's history is, I'll leave that for an American. I've always begrudgingly liked Scarlett and always been in love with Rhett. What girl wouldn't be 8)

Rhett Butler is the best Gable performance in my mind but he has a wider range than often given credit for. It Happened One Night is my other favorite Clark performance.

Vivien Leigh is an excellent actress. I have a lovely book full of pictures of her quite a lot taken on stage in her various performances. She tackled many of the great female roles. I haven't seen as many of Vivien's films as I would like. She inhabits Scarlett, she's note perfect to the Scarlett of the book, as is Clark's Rhett. I'd love to have seen her and Larry on stage but I'm too young. Two other film roles I think she excels in Anna Karenina (she's much better than Greta) and Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire. She inhabited too well the role of Blanche too, many seeing it as the beginning of her descent into depression.

Olivia De Havilland was wonderful as Melanie. The only duff note is Leslie Howard as Ashley. Not his fault but he is too old to play Ashley.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
stuart.uk
Posts: 1805
Joined: January 21st, 2008, 12:25 pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland

Post by stuart.uk »

For some reason English actresses seem to make better Southern Belles. like Vivien Leigh before her, Lesley Anne Down was brilliant in the North And South trilogy, even if the last wasn't up to the standard of the previous two
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

stuart.uk wrote:For some reason English actresses seem to make better Southern Belles.

Sorry? Come again?? Huh??? :?
stuart.uk
Posts: 1805
Joined: January 21st, 2008, 12:25 pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland

Post by stuart.uk »

i didn't mean to cause any offense by suggesting English actresses make better sothern belles. it's just that the likes of Vivien Leigh, Lesley Ane Down were so convincing. Joanna Whalley also played the role in the sequel Scarlett with Timothy Dalton. Viv also did A Streetcar Named Desire

having seen some of the screen tests for Scarlett i believe American actress Paulette Goddard would have been a great leading lady in the film. Paulette prove she could do it in Reap The Wild Wind the following yr, as she was romanced by both Ray Milland and John Wayne

while i raved about Lesley Anne Down in North And South, American Terri Garber was just as brilliant as Lesley's wicked sister-in-law Ashton

Carroll Baker was another great southern belle. it maybe doesn't count as she really played a Texican, but boy did she drawl in The Big Country
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

I think one of the reasons British actors can sound so convincing playing American southerners is that our southern accent is really a drawn-out British accent -- the "drawl" is an English drawl, extra-long. It seems to me that many British actors, when called upon to play Americans, sound more southern than anything else (well, sometimes they sound Canadian). I'm not including those who do American accents really well, like Peter Sellers and so many others.

Did you see that thing in the news recently -- a poll done in the UK about which British actors can do convincing American accents? Apparently, the actors called the worst don't sound "American" to the British ear. I was surprised, because most of those cited as the worst (including the recently cancelled Bionic Woman, Michelle Ryan) sound fairly accurate to these American ears. I suppose it comes down to what you expect to hear.
stuart.uk
Posts: 1805
Joined: January 21st, 2008, 12:25 pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland

Post by stuart.uk »

i thought The Bionic Woman was a hit. a dvd series of the show is now on sale in the UK. i thought it might be more realistic than the Lindsay Wagner show with action heroines more acceptable today. I was interested to discover Michelle Ryan used an American accent. as she was clearly spotted for her Zoe Slater in Eastenders, i thought her Jamie might be a cockney living in America. Edward Woodward for example got The Equalizer because of his British secret agent Callan. he just used his English accent in the American show.

Michael Caine can do several American accents. Charles Laughton could play a southern polititian. Angela Lansbury can do varing American accents and seems to me to speak normally as an elderly English woman.

Roger Moore said once that living in America gave him opurtunities he didn't have in the UK, because he was only one of a few English actors in America, so Brit parts were more available
Synnove
Posts: 334
Joined: March 8th, 2008, 10:00 am
Location: Sweden

Post by Synnove »

I remember reading that a lot of British people complain that Hugh Laurie, who plays an American doctor in the TV series House, doesn't speak an entirely convincing American accent. He's said something to that effect himself in an interview, that he thought he sounded horrible when he listened to himself afterwards. But many American viewers of the show are surprised when they learn he's British. Apparently he does a good job after all.

I can feel that way sometimes. When I hear Ingrid Bergman talk American slang in her thick accent I get very annoyed. It's one of my quibbles with Notorious. But Americans don't seem to mind it that much.
stuart.uk
Posts: 1805
Joined: January 21st, 2008, 12:25 pm
Location: Dundee, Scotland

Post by stuart.uk »

My fav Ingrid film is The Yellow Rolls Royce she plays an American diplomat. i wonder if she'd been even more convincing playing a European polititian

i gather Hugh Laurie's double act partner Stephen Fry also did a tv series in America. i bet he still kept his Brirish accent
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Synnove wrote:I remember reading that a lot of British people complain that Hugh Laurie, who plays an American doctor in the TV series House, doesn't speak an entirely convincing American accent. He's said something to that effect himself in an interview, that he thought he sounded horrible when he listened to himself afterwards. But many American viewers of the show are surprised when they learn he's British. Apparently he does a good job after all.

I can feel that way sometimes. When I hear Ingrid Bergman talk American slang in her thick accent I get very annoyed. It's one of my quibbles with Notorious. But Americans don't seem to mind it that much.
I don't watch Hugh Laurie's show House, but I've seen a few bits of it, and he sounds to me like someone very self-conscious about his diction. Maybe it's gotten better as he's gone along.

I thought Michelle Ryan's American speech was pretty good, although I noticed that in many scenes she appeared to be dubbed over; and I wondered if it was her own voice I was hearing in those scenes.

We are so used to Angela Lansbury that I don't think anyone cares if she has an English accent or not. Since her Murder, She Wrote is set in New England, it doesn't really matter, as many people in that region (especially the Upper Class types) have English-sounding speech. That's the kind of speech referred to as "Mid-Lantic," that is, halfway between British and American. Most of my Boston friends talk that way, as opposed to the flat and nasal "pahk youah cah in Hahvahd Yahd" kind of accent most people think of as Bostonspeak. (Oh, in case you need translation, that is supposed to be "park your car in Harvard Yard," and is used by non-Bostonians to indicate a typical Boston accent. You will find that on US TV shows set in Boston there are virtually no actors who have Boston accents - it's hard to do.)

I think the reason we Americans don't mind "slang with an accent" is that we are a nation of immigrants, and people speaking colloquial English in accents of all sorts is nothing unusual here.
benwhowell
Posts: 568
Joined: April 16th, 2007, 3:14 pm
Location: Las Vegas
Contact:

IMHO

Post by benwhowell »

I never got around to reading the novel, but I've seen the movie several times and each time (despite knowing what's about to happen) it feels like I'm seeing it for the first time...because there's just SO MUCH to see and hear and feel. It isn't my all-time favorite movie, but it is truly an amazing cinematic experience.
Gable is wonderful, but my favorite performance would be his final role-in "The Misfits." That role stripped away all the "movie star" bs and gave us Gable at the top of his craft in an honest, complex and heartbreaking performance.
Vivien is a fabulous "southern belle," so it's hard for me to choose between Scarlett and Blanche.
As for Hattie (whom I adore in everything)-I'd have to choose Mammy as her best role...simply because she (and correct me if I'm wrong) has the most screen time in this movie than any other.
My favorite line from the movie was spoken by Hattie. I really don't know why it's my favorite, but I love it and I find myself saying it at random...
"I's gwine-a put these britches in the boirling pot."
Handsome Johnny Eck
User avatar
charliechaplinfan
Posts: 9087
Joined: January 15th, 2008, 9:49 am

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Yes, Gable's performance in The Misfits is very good. I forgot about that one when I listed my favorites. Clark as Rhett is just so darned handsome 8)
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
Post Reply