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Gone with the Wind
Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable star in the epic Civil War drama.
Director: Victor Fleming
David O Selznick’s remarkably coherent adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s bestseller successfully balances the larger historical backdrop – the seismic changes affecting the South at the time of the American Civil War – with the more intimate story of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), a petulant belle wreaking havoc on the lives of others in her pursuit of Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard) and her dealings with Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).
One of the most popular films of all time, the racism of this celebration of the antebellum South - “ a civilisation gone with the wind” - is shocking today, not just for the stereotyped black roles but even more for slavery as the unremarked backdrop to the doings of our monstrous heroine and the gallant good Old Boys. Black girls fan pretty ladies whilst they rest, happy slaves tend to their masters, insolent slaves are beaten. Hattie McDaniel as Scarlett O’Hara’s house slave won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress: there have only been seven other black women to win in the intervening 81 years. And the stereotype of the sassy black friend is alive and well in American cinema today. The influence and pleasures of its sprawling narrative, its fantastic use of Technicolor and its memorable lush score can be seen in other epic filmmaking from Lawrence of Arabia to The Godfather.