Tag: gone with the wind

classic film events london

Hollywood costumes come to London!

(Via the V&A)

On October 20, the Victoria & Albert Museum brought Hollywood filmmaking to the heart of London. Hollywood Costume, curated by designer and historian Deborah Nadoolman Landis (Raiders of the Lost Ark), is an ambitious and beautiful exhibition that illuminates the central role costume design has played throughout a century of Hollywood filmmaking. As a previous resident of southern California, I’ve seen a fair share of old Hollywood costumes before. I’ve even been lucky enough to try some on (it turns out that with enough sucking in, I’m the same size as Hedy Lamarr). But none of these experiences had prepared me for the sheer volume and awesome spectacle of this exhibition.

I met up with Zoe from Vagabond Language on a particularly cold day a couple weeks ago. Exhibitions are always more fun when you see them with someone else who enjoys the subject matter as much as you do. Several of the most iconic outfits in film history were on display. Most astonishingly, they weren’t behind glass cases, but out in the open with strategic lighting and projected images that made it seem as if we had stepped into a Technicolor fantasy.

The exhibition is arranged in three sections: Deconstruction (designer’s research), Dialogue (innovation and design), Finale (a huge mash-up of noteworthy designs).  There were costumes worn by everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Matt Damon – Mary Pickford to Meryl Streep and just about everyone in between; we’re talking Hedy Lamarr, Carole Lombard, Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Depp, Greta Garbo, Kate Winslet, Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland – they even had the original ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz shipped over from the Smithsonian.

vivien leigh gwtw dresses

While I enjoyed the full range of costumes on offer, there were two that particularly stood out to me. These were the green curtain dress and  red ostrich feather dress worn by Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, which were among those recently restored by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. This exhibition marks the first time the costumes have been in the UK since the 1940s and it was surreal to view them up close. I’d seen a version of the green dress at the Atlanta History Center back in 2009, but was quite unprepared for the vision of the red dress. Major kudos to the people who did the restoration. It looks absolutely stunning. It also reaffirms the fact that Vivien Leigh’s waist was smaller than my thigh.

Aside from ogling at the artistry on display, I was quite surprised to see that many of the older costumes came from a select few collectors or costume companies in Los Angeles and Asia. It must have taken quite a while for the curators to track all of them down, let along negotiate for them to be shipped to London.

Whether you’re in to fashion, film or plain old nostalgia, Hollywood Costume has something for everyone and should be on the top of every tourist’s list of things to see and do in London.

*Hollywood Costume runs until January 27, 2013. Advance bookings strongly recommended.


gone with the wind

Banned Books Week: Gone with the Wind

From September 30th to October 6th, readers, writers, publishers and booksellers across the United States will be celebrating Banned Books Week in an effort to bring attention to the harmful effects of censorship. Books have been banned in select libraries and schools for a number of years and a number of reasons. Some titles have been challenged multiple times by teachers/school board members/leaders of moral and religious groups because the content expressed within their covers is deemed offensive.

The American Library Association has organized a Virtual Read-Out, inviting lovers of the printed word to read aloud from their favorite banned or censored books. My contribution is a not-so-dramatic reading of one of my favorite passages from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. This book, which happens to be my favorite novel of all time, has come under fire several times in the past for its depiction of slavery, its free use of the word “nigger”, and the loose morals of Scarlett O’Hara. I’m currently on my fourth read-through of this brilliant tome. Eight years have passed since I last picked it up, but I can say that I still love it after all this time; I connect with Scarlett in different ways and, as always, Mitchell’s imagery is some of the best I’ve read in any novel.

It’s also a real tongue-twister to voice out loud!

What’s your favorite frequently challenged book?

cinema experiences gone with the wind guest post

{Guest Post} Gone with the Wind at the Egyptian Theatre

Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind

I always love reading about other people’s cinematic classic film viewing experiences. Some films were simply meant to be seen in the cinema, as is the case with Gone with the Wind. Last weekend, GWTW was screened at the magnificent Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. This venue, home to the American Cinematheque, is a haven for film nerds in the movie capital and has a special place in my heart. So, when I learned a couple of my friends were meeting up and going to the screening, I immediately invited one of them to write about her experience for vivandlarry.com. Luckily she said yes!

Marissa recently relocated from New York to Los Angeles where she is currently enrolled in the Archival Studies graduate program at UCLA. This past May, she attended A Weekend with the Oliviers, the event put on through vivandlarry.com in London. Over in LA, as someone who has always loved film and film history, Marissa is enjoying all the city has to offer.


No other film has made more of an impact on my life or means as much to me as Gone with the Wind, and just as I’ll never forget watching it for the very first time when I was eleven, I’ll never forget the experience of seeing it for the first time on the big screen. This is something that I had hoped to do for a long time and was able to experience last Saturday.

I had the great fortune to see Gone with the Wind at the beautiful and historic Egyptian Theatre. The grandeur of the theatre is a sight to behold in itself. Kendra, a very thoughtful friend, put me in contact with her friend Mark and I was able to share the experience with him and his friends, which made the viewing all the more enjoyable.

Before the film was shown, the programmer said that our socks would be knocked off and he was right. Viewing the digital print and hearing Max Steiner’s score at the Egyptian Theatre added even greater depth to the movie. Being part of a large audience was truly a unique experience that enhanced and heightened moments of humor and tension.

There are so many exceptional elements that come together seamlessly to make Gone with the Wind so very special, but above all it’s the brilliant performances by Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and the rest of the cast that always mesmerize me. The experience of seeing it on the big screen was even better than I imagined and, as always, when watching it, I didn’t want it to end.


If you’ve had a chance to see a Vivien Leigh or Laurence Olivier film on the big screen and want to share your experience with other fans, feel free to get in touch.

Check out more Cinema Experiences here.


Interview with author Ellen F. Brown

Gone with the Wind 75th anniversary

2011 marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of my favorite of all favorite books, Gone with the Wind. Back in August I wrote about the documentary Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel, produced earlier this year for PBS, and just a couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the insightful and wonderfully written biography of the book Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood. Today, I’m excited to share with you an interview with Ellen F. Brown, the award-winning author of A Bestseller’s Odyssey. Ellen was kind enough to answer questions relating to her research and some of the interesting things she and co-author John Wiley, Jr. unearthed relating to Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier’s experience during the huge uproar surrounding Selznick’s blockbuster film.

Continue reading

books gone with the wind

Book Corner: Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Altanta to Hollywood

Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood

No single work of fiction has had a more lasting impact on American popular culture than Gone with the Wind. The Pulitzer Prize-winner has spawned endless merchandise, two sequels, a lively fan fiction community, and the highest grossing film of all time; not to mention more book tie-ins than you can shake a stick at. This is a story that still fascinates readers and cinephiles the world over and has attained a kind of cult status. If you haven’t heard of Gone with the Wind, it’s safe to assume you’ve lived your life under a rock—there is no escaping it. If you’re a fan, chances are you’re familiar with the wealth of material just waiting to be discovered by those who have just fallen under the spell of Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler and the saga of the South during the Civil War. But just when you thought you’d seen and read everything, authors Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley, Jr. came along to prove that there was at least one stone yet unturned.

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, written to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the novel’s publication in 2011, is not your standard biography. Rather than focusing on Margaret Mitchell, this book chronicles the life of the story she created, from its inception in turn-of-the-century Atlanta to the multi-million dollar cash cow it remains today. How did this book, written by an unknown author, become such a successful “blockbuster”? Why does it still resonate today, and how has this resonance changed in the last 75 years?  Brown and Wiley conducted an impressive amount of archival research to reveal the answers to these and many other questions. Gaining access to never-before-published material, including correspondence between Mitchell and Macmillan editor Lois Cole, and historical records at the University of Georgia, the co-authors have painstakingly retraced every step in the life of this international publishing phenomenon.

The recent PBS documentary Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel offered an overview of the famously reclusive author’s post-GWTW life, but Brown and Wiley manage to delve even deeper. A very reluctant celebrity, Margaret Mitchell was unexpectedly thrust into a spotlight that never dimmed in her lifetime. She also played a large part in managing the trajectory of her book, and experienced many disappointments and pitfalls, especially after it had become a success. The legal battles that this first-time author had to endure at the hands of the publishing and film industries would be enough to turn any budding novelist away from writing a book. She was handed bad deals by Selznick International and, on occasion, Macmillan. The agent that she and husband John Marsh entrusted to handle foreign copyright stole over $30,000 in royalties. Fans besieged her by post, phone and in person demanding a sequel. Gone with the Wind remained such a constant for the rest of Mitchell’s life that she never had time to write another novel. Yet with the help of her husband and lawyer brother Stephens, Mitchell was able to keep a relatively firm hand on her greatest creation, and ensure that it would remain a profitable endeavor long after she died.

Brown and Wiley cover everything from the issue of racism to those pesky unauthorized sequels (Alice Randall’s 2001 debut novel The Wind Done Gone managed to encapsulate both things, and she was shut down by the Stephens Mitchell Trust on account of the latter) with an intelligent, objective eye. They even reveal a bit about the failed (authorized) sequel written by Vivien Leigh biographer Anne Edwards that is now under lock and key in special collections at UCLA. In the manuscript for Tara: The Continuation of Gone with the Wind, Edwards reunites the principal characters only to kill one of them off. Given how close fans hold Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler to their hearts, perhaps it’s best this sequel never made it onto bookshelves.

I would highly recommend making space on your own shelf for Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood. Brown and Wiley’s well-written, informative account of this unstoppable literary and cinematic phenomenon will surprise and enlighten even the most die-hard fans.

Buy Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood: Amazon | Waterstones | Barnes & Noble

*Stay tuned this weekend for a Q&A with author Ellen F. Brown right here at vivandlarry.com!