Tag: gone with the wind

gone with the wind reviews

Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel

Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell has been enjoying a second (or 75th?) wind recently due to the fanfare surrounding the anniversary of the publication of her only novel, Gone with the Wind. Atlanta threw a big party and the Windies, a close-knit group of hard-core GWTW fans (think Trekkies in hoop skirts) even made it into the New York Times. As part of the celebration, GPB Media in Georgia produced a new documentary called Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel. It tells the fascinating life story of the woman who would write the most beloved novel in American history.

A progressive, pseudo-feminist  yet still very much a woman of her time, Margaret Mitchell was born into Atlanta’s high society in 1900 and was raised on stories told by a generation still sore about losing the Civil War. A tomboy with a creative side, Mitchell always loved writing. At age 16 she penned a novella called Lost Laysen which was discovered and published decades after her death and reveals a sensibility for romance and adventure that would later blossom into a Pulitzer Prize-winner. At 18, Mitchell enrolled at Smith College, the ivy league women’s school in Massachusetts, but dropped out her freshman year (1918) when her mother died of Spanish flu.

Mitchell seemed to take after her mother, a suffragette, and was never content to be complacent within the gender roles society placed on women of her generation. In a time when women were meant to be seen and not heard, Mitchell was more interested in playing sports and hanging around with the boys than she was to be in the kitchen and having babies. When the 1920s rolled in, she made the picture-perfect flapper. She accepted a journalist position at the  Atlanta Journal using the pen name Peggy Mitchell and took to the streets, covering important issues of the day and even interviewing Rudolph Valentino.

Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind

Mitchell married twice. Her first husband, Berrien ‘Red’ Upshaw, was a violent alcoholic and a bootlegger who commentators on the documentary think may have been the inspiration behind the character Rhett Butler. After the marriage failed, Mitchell wed Upshaw’s best man, John Marsh, whom she remained with for the rest of her life. It was while married to Marsh and convalescing from a broken ankle that Mitchell began work on her magnum opus. She started with the last chapter and wrote sporadically over the course of the next decade.

“If the novel has a theme, it is that of survival. What makes some people able to come through catastrophes and others, apparently just s able, strong and brave, go under? It happens in every upheaval. Some people survive; others don’t. What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those who go under? I only know that the survivors used to call that quality ‘gumption’. So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn’t.”

The fame that came along with the success of Gone with the Wind was overwhelming. Mitchell refused a direct role in helping David O. Selznick with his screen adaptation and became somewhat of a recluse due to the incessant writing and phoning from people wanting to know what happens to Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler after the end of the novel. She never wrote another book and died in 1949 after being hit by a car while crossing Peachtree Street in Atlanta with her husband on their way to see the Powell and Pressburger film A Canterbury Tale. She was 49 years old.

Margaret Mitchell Gone with the Wind

The documentary itself was surprisingly well made and offered commentary from a host of film historians and Margaret Mitchell biographers including Molly Haskell and John Wiley, Jr., co-author of the new book Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood (which I look forward to finally reading once I’m finished with school. I also have a very nice Q&A with the authors to post here, which I also hope to get up soon). The historical re-enactments which are always the bane of TV documentaries were pleasantly unobtrusive. I also learned a lot about Mitchell that I hadn’t known before, such as her role as a secret financial benefactor for the private, historically all-black Morehouse College. This documentary would have been even better if Ken Burns of David McCullough had added their narrative gravitas, but alas. Beggars can’t be choosers, and it was wonderful as is.

If you haven’t yet seen Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel, you can order a copy from GPB. Recommended!

*Screencaps courtesy of Skye Bugs

cinema archive screentests

Rare Gone with the Wind Screen Test


First, I wanted to extend a huge thanks to everyone who participated in the Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier Appreciation Blogathon over the weekend. I was so impressed with the consistent quality of the posts across the board. You all are a bunch of fabulous writers! We had posts about everything from people who knew Vivien Leigh to why people should stop calling Laurence Olivier a hammy screen actor, and everything in between. I was really glad to see posts about films which aren’t mentioned as often when discussing Vivien Leigh or Laurence Olivier, such as Sleuth, As You Like It and Sidewalks of London. Well done, everyone!

Second, now that I’m in California for a spell, I have a little bit of time to make some actual site updates. First up is some rare video footage of a wardrobe test from Gone with the Wind. It was submitted to vivandlarry.com by Chris, who says that the lady on the left is Margaret Talichett, the former wife of director William Wyler. Talichett tested for the part of Scarlett O’Hara, and then tested as one of the sisters (I’m guessing Carreen, what do you think?). The footage comes from the 1986 documentary Directed By William Wyler.



gone with the wind lists

10 Reasons Why Gone with the Wind is Still Awesome

In the 75 years since Margaret Mitchell published her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the phenomenon that is Gone with the Wind has never quite died down. In 1939, David O. Selznick turned the most popular novel of its time into the most popular film ever made. It is perhaps the film, more than the book, that keeps the fanfare alive around the world today. Yet, in spite of its popularity, Gone with the Wind has come under fire in recent years from film critics who often cite it as outdated and chide its non-PC depiction of slavery. Even with its faults, Selznick’s Civil War epic has stood the test of time and remains the shining beacon of the Hollywood studio era. Here are 10 reasons why Gone with the Wind is still an awesome film.

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