Sunday, February 13, 2011

The most accurate Movie Line in History: "I Don't Give a Damn."

I've been grateful that TCM, for the last few nights, has been running things that I've already seen or actually own on DVD. It's freed up my time for other pursuits. I'm almost equally as glad that, even as I type this, they are running Gone With The Wind -- a movie that I don't own on DVD, never will, and frankly have never been able to sit through even once.

It's not that I don't appreciate the very evident craftsmanship that went into this movie. It is astonishingly well-made. It's not that I don't like the cast. I mean, what's not to like about the cast?

The problem is simply this: Margaret Mitchell.

Gone With The Wind is one of the worst novels ever written in the English language -- at least, among the ones that take themselves seriously.

Scarlett O'Hara is touted as a Survivor when she's really just a Bitch, Rhett Butler is a scoundrel, and for some reason we are expected to respect him for that. Ashley Wilkes is such a wimpy-boy that he makes me look like Ahnohld SchVARZenegger.

There isn't one single likable character in the novel, and in the movie the actors dutifully portray the characters in all their deep unlikable-ness. The book was one of the most detestable reading experiences of my life, and the movie only accentuates Margaret Mitchell's stupidity and ignorance of the form.

The one thing that the story has going for it is the deep hardship of the Civil War, and its message that somehow, someway, people manage to muddle through the most difficult and horrendous of circumstances. Had it not been for the last ten months of my life, I would not even have been willing to acknowledge that much.

The issue I have is that I just don't care if any of these woefully misbegotten characters survive or not. Every single one of them is, in their own way, contemptible and detestable. How can a writer possibly, successfully convey a message of the virtues or survival when all of the creatures she writes about woud be better stamped from existence?

Scarlett and Rhett belong in one of the Darwin Awards books. They should have done the gene pool a favor by NOT surviving the war!


  1. Oh dear, I am going to have to get in my buggy and come over there and "convince" you otherwise! Alas, I fear you Yankees just don't get it!

    Actually, your reaction is a pretty typical (albeit rather strong) male reaction to this film. But (as you know) I think the film would have made more sense if all of Scarlett's energy & passion was directed at a more worth Ashley (Cary Grant got my vote!).

    Well, since the North did win, I guess we must allow you your opinion (grrrrrrrrrrr).

  2. Your comment made me smile! Gosh, I never thought of Gone With the Wind as another round between the north and the south! I'd dislike these characters just as much if they were Yankees! :-)

    William Faulkner describes some southern women stalking out of a showing of this movie in a display of indignation, so someone down there must agree with me. . .

    If I sounded a little harsh, maybe I was a little angry at myself for taking the time to try to watch the picture yet again, and expecting different results. Wasn't that Einstein's definition of insanity?

  3. Actually, I'm a Yankee myself, but I was just having fun. I would not say it is my favorite film, but it is so iconic - and the 2 lead roles are so perfectly cast - that I find it irresistible. But hey - I am sick of Casablanca, but I dare not speak it for fear of retribution! Stick to your guns! (and don't waste another 4 hours).


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