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Gone With the Wind (1939)

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In Gone with the Wind, I always believed the person who really loved and accepted Scarlett for herself was Melanie.  By the end of the movie, I thought Ashley was a spineless weakling, Rhett a hypocritical jackass, and Melanie and Scarlett were the better couple.

 

I re-watched Gone With The Wind recently on a channel that was having a marathon of it, and told a friend that while it's both visually stunning and a classic film, Scarlett was a bitch and I didn't particularly like her. Like Cathy from Wuthering Heights, she spends most of the movie running after the man she thinks will make her happy, only to find out when its too late that she could have been happy all along. Of course, in Cathy's case it was because she thought Heathcliff wasn't good enough for her since he was poor, but Scarlett wasted years chasing Ashley, who loved Melanie, and Melanie thought Scarlett was a much better friend - and better person - than she actually was. Had Melanie not died, Scarlett likely would have never gotten the clue that Ashley just wasn't that into her, and that kind of obtuseness drives me up a wall.

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Of course, in Cathy's case it was because she thought Heathcliff wasn't good enough for her since he was poor, but Scarlett wasted years chasing Ashley, who loved Melanie, and Melanie thought Scarlett was a much better friend - and better person - than she actually was. 

 

But then, maybe the problem was that Scarlett thought Ashely was a much better friend - and better person - than he actually was. She spent the movie convinced that he didn't love Melanie because he clearly wanted to be with her, and it wasn't until the end that she realized that her sainted, noble Ashley wanted her for the same reason that Rhett wanted Belle Watling. 

 

tl;dr: if Scarlett didn't have just a touch of the romantic attachment to the antebellum mythos that she was so tired of in everyone else, she would have realized way sooner that Ashley wasn't noble and thought she was kind of a whore, and looked elsewhere (like, in her bed). 

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But then, maybe the problem was that Scarlett thought Ashely was a much better friend - and better person - than he actually was. She spent the movie convinced that he didn't love Melanie because he clearly wanted to be with her, and it wasn't until the end that she realized that her sainted, noble Ashley wanted her for the same reason that Rhett wanted Belle Watling. 

 

Possibly, but Scarlett's romanticizing of Ashley is coupled with her thinking that Melanie is too simple and stupid for Ashley to love, when the truth is that Melanie is what Scarlett isn't - a good person. Up until the deathbed scene, Scarlett never gets the memo that Melanie has a purity of heart that she lacks, and Rhett tells her that Ashley's wife was that rarest of creatures, a genuinely kind person, and one of the few real ladies he ever knew. Hell, Melanie's refusal to believe the rumors that anything untoward was happening between her husband and her friend was exactly because she was so good-hearted, and it was only her death that made Scarlett realize that she wasn't just a simpering milksop. Melanie died believing that Scarlett wouldn't stab her in the back like that, and Scarlett threw away her chance at happiness with Rhett - scoundrel though he may have been - because she thought Ashley was better than he actually was.

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Possibly, but Scarlett's romanticizing of Ashley is coupled with her thinking that Melanie is too simple and stupid for Ashley to love, when the truth is that Melanie is what Scarlett isn't - a good person. Up until the deathbed scene, Scarlett never gets the memo that Melanie has a purity of heart that she lacks, and Rhett tells her that Ashley's wife was that rarest of creatures, a genuinely kind person, and one of the few real ladies he ever knew. Hell, Melanie's refusal to believe the rumors that anything untoward was happening between her husband and her friend was exactly because she was so good-hearted, and it was only her death that made Scarlett realize that she wasn't just a simpering milksop. Melanie died believing that Scarlett wouldn't stab her in the back like that, and Scarlett threw away her chance at happiness with Rhett - scoundrel though he may have been - because she thought Ashley was better than he actually was.

I see it a little differently. I think Melanie knew that Ashley was weak and Scarlett was selfish and bullheaded, but she also saw that Ashley was romantic and idealistic and Scarlett was brave and hard-working and in her own way, loyal (she could have solved the Ashley problem by not saving Melanie from Atlanta, after all, and there were plenty of investments that would have paid off better than Tara, and she supported a lot of people who treated her like dirt because they were family) and she loved them anyway. I think Melanie chose to believe them because she chose them. Also, I don't think she was too sorry to see the back of India Wilkes.

I think Scarlett relied a lot on the ways she and Melanie were different, but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that Ashley - who had his own fantasies about Scarlett - was much less of a gentleman than she gave him credit for. The imaginary Ashley in her head wouldn't have kept letting anyone think she had a chance if he loved his wife, and he would have been loyal his wife if she deserved it.

Which is very likely more analysis than what was basically an epic apologia for structural racism deserves, but I find it a little offputting when Scarlett, who pretty much carries the rest of the characters on her back for big chunks of the book, is judged so much more harshly than, say, Rhett the whoremongering rapist war profiteer and Ashley the ineffectual delusional klansman who was married to the saintly love of his life and still led her best friend on. Hell, the catty and profoundly useless Aunt PittyPat gets to judge Scarlett, not that it keeps her from hanging off her like a remora.

Frankly, I think it would serve Scarlett right if she spent the rest of her life carrying Ashley - I suspect she did, actually - but she's far from the most awful person in that book/movie.

Edited by Julia
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With GWTW, there's the usual issue comparing the book to the movie, in that with the book you get insight to what Scarlett is thinking.    is she likable? No.  Does she get things done?  Yes.  Does she get them done with grace?  No.  As Julia notes, it is very apparent in the book that Scarlett carries a lot of people but she is criticized heavily by society for the way she does it (granted, stealing her sister's guy was pretty low, though she didn't do that to give herself pretty clothes, she wanted to save the homestead).  She is selfish, arrogant and entitled, but that doesn't stop her from saving Melane and the baby, getting them out of Atlanta.  

 

I don't think she was intended to be an admirable heroine; the movie of course plays up Vivien Leigh's beauty, with the impression being that she is to be admired only for that.   In the society that Scarlett grew up in, her looks and her ability to act the way men/society expect her to is all the value she has and she is frustrated by this, though it doesn't stop her from using her looks.  I don't think the movie is as clear about this.

 

Rhett the whoremongering rapist war profiteer and Ashley the ineffectual delusional klansman who was married to the saintly love of his life and still led her best friend on.

Great observations - I can't stand Ashley at all, even when he admits he's not made for the new world so he knows he's depended on women to support him.  Blech.  I have no idea what Melanie sees in him, Scarlett at least finally admits to herself that she her idea of what she thought he was probably wasn't the same as what he actually is. 

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I think Melanie knew that Ashley was weak and Scarlett was selfish and bullheaded, but she also saw that Ashley was romantic and idealistic and Scarlett was brave and hard-working and in her own way, loyal

 

 

I agree Melanie knew Scarlett was not perfect, and had horrible flaws, but Scarlett saved Melanie and her baby, and she took care of them afterwards.  Melanie loved Scarlett's strength.  Scarlett and Melanie survived the war together.  That was a powerful bond.

 

When Scarlett first told Ashley she loved him before he was married to Melanie, Ashley told Scarlett he loved her for the wild free person she was, but Melanie was more like him, and gentle.  Ashley made it sound like he was marrying Melanie because she was manageable and he couldn't handle Scarlett.

 

Rhett told Scarlett several times before he married her that he didn't love her.  He was only marrying her because that was the only way he could have her.  Rhett knew about Scarlett's feelings for Ashley, married her anyway, and then told her what a horrible wife and mother she was, all while he was cheating on her.  So how exactly was their marriage not working only Scarlett's fault.

 

Not only, did all the people who were willing to let Scarlett pay the bills, while judging her for her actions, gossip about her, but Belle who was having sex with Scarlett's husband also felt entitled to criticize Scarlett.  {face palm}

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Maybe I'm naive, but I thought Rhett did love Scarlett but would never tell her so because then she would know she had him.  Once she knew she had him, odds are Rhett would have gradually (or quickly) lost Scarlett's respect, something he would not accept happening.  And I thought Rhett started out faithful to Scarlett, and only sought out Belle's company after Scarlett said he'd never touch her again (because after having Bonnie, she couldn't get her figure back, I think?).  I thought it was pretty clear that marital relations were nixed by Scarlett; and while it may not have been admirable of Rhett to go elsewhere, it might be considered human to do so. Must re-read, as it's been a while since I went over the details of the story.

 

That being said, I still admire Scarlett for her strength and agree that her hangers-on didn't appreciate her. Though I looked at characters like Aunt Pitty Pat as sort of a Greek chorus for the values of the time; that is, she is the mechanism telling the viewer/reader just how scandalous Scarlett's behavior is for a woman of her era.  Scarlett's mother was just as strong as her daughter, but exercised her power more subtly, like telling Mr. O'Hara that the overseer had to go; Scarlett would probably have just told the overseer he was done herself.

Edited by harrie
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I don't think Rhett was a great human being, harrie, but I agree that he did love Scarlett for who she was.   He is hypocritical - he admires her for what she is, wants her to love him, but puts on a public face for the "old guard" of society so that Bonnie will be allowed to associate with the "right" people.  He scorns them but wants Bonnie in their world.  I know I can't look at it with modern eyes, but he encourages Scarlett to be who she is and accept the consequences for her behavior (like using convict labor), but he doesn't follow through.  I get wanting the best for your children, but did he really want his daughter to grow up constrained as Scarlett was?  That's more of a negative to me than him visiting Belle.  

 

Scarlett is not really self-aware, but in the book at least, she does realize that things she is doing will put her outside of society, and there are a lot of lines where she wants to be like her mother but she doesn't know how.  Except for flirting, she really is unable and probably unwilling to put on the public face expected of her. For that she is shunned, and her children (book, since she only has Bonnie in the movie) as well, until Rhett decides to play the game for Bonnie's sake.  

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I find it a little offputting when Scarlett, who pretty much carries the rest of the characters on her back for big chunks of the book, is judged so much more harshly than, say, Rhett the whoremongering rapist war profiteer and Ashley the ineffectual delusional klansman who was married to the saintly love of his life and still led her best friend on.

 

I can't stand GWTW, but Scarlett is pretty far down the list of my problems with it.  The above is a terrific summation of why that is.

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Branching off an interesting discussion about GWTW from Unpopular Opinions, I've created a thread and moved some posts here. You can talk about the movie and the book as much as you want.

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There's also a scene in the movie where Ashley somewhat objects to their using convict labor at the mill.  He tells Scarlett that slavery was different, and besides he was planning on freeing all the slaves once his father died.  Then Ashley agrees to go along with Scarlett's decision to use convict labor.  Ashley's supposed high ideals never translate to actions, but somehow that's never his fault.

 

I can't remember the name of the movie, but it's about an African American man who was a slave, is freed after the war, and is being tried on trumped up charges.  His attorney is a Civil War hero who fought for the North, and spoke out against slavery before the war saying it was wrong and immoral.  As the trial goes on, the African American man realizes his attorney is racist and confronts him about it.  The attorney tells him, "I fought to make you free, not equal."  He goes on to express that he believes African Americans are inferior, should accept their place in society, and not try to rise above it.  So he considered slavery wrong, but racial discrimination was acceptable.

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I love this book. Obviously it's racist, but I'm used to ignore that kind of things when I read old books. My favourite thing about this story is the contradiction between the moral values of  the world Mitchell wanted to celebrate and the moral values of her main character. While Scarlett's an antihero, I have no doubt that Mitchell admired her and wanted us to admire her too (at least, her strength and her determination). That was an interesting choice. Her heroine isn't the kind of woman her beloved South wanted Scarlett to be. 

 

Also, I love her. She's full of flaws and so human and amazing. You can sense her confusion every time she realizes she's not like the other people she knows, that she doesn't feel the same about the war, the yankees, motherhood... I always have sympathy for that kind of outsiders.

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I used to like this movie because of the costumes, but being older, I can't ignore the racism.  Though you got to hand it to be Mammy who had Scarlett's number and wasn't afraid to call her out on her bullshit.

 

But the only character I really liked was Melanie.  She was extremely loyal to her friends, and I think the scene where she crawls out of bed, dragging that sword ready to attack the intruder proved that despite her appearance she was no simpering ninny. 

 

Scarlett's romanticizing of Ashley is coupled with her thinking that Melanie is too simple and stupid for Ashley to love, when the truth is that Melanie is what Scarlett isn't - a good person. Up until the deathbed scene, Scarlett never gets the memo that Melanie has a purity of heart that she lacks, and Rhett tells her that Ashley's wife was that rarest of creatures, a genuinely kind person, and one of the few real ladies he ever knew. Hell, Melanie's refusal to believe the rumors that anything untoward was happening between her husband and her friend was exactly because she was so good-hearted, and it was only her death that made Scarlett realize that she wasn't just a simpering milksop.

 

 

Exactly.

 

I also liked the friendship between Rhett and Melanie.  He had a lot of respect for her and always made it clear that whatever he thought of Ashley, he always had Mellie's back.

Edited by Spartan Girl
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I can't stand Ashley at all, even when he admits he's not made for the new world so he knows he's depended on women to support him.

I always thought that this was the point when Scarlett should have realized that Ashley wasn't the man she thought he was. I loved how in the book, someone described Ashley as a turtle on his back.

 

 

Maybe I'm naive, but I thought Rhett did love Scarlett but would never tell her so because then she would know she had him.  Once she knew she had him, odds are Rhett would have gradually (or quickly) lost Scarlett's respect, something he would not accept happening.  And I thought Rhett started out faithful to Scarlett, and only sought out Belle's company after Scarlett said he'd never touch her again (because after having Bonnie, she couldn't get her figure back, I think?).  I thought it was pretty clear that marital relations were nixed by Scarlett; and while it may not have been admirable of Rhett to go elsewhere, it might be considered human to do so. Must re-read, as it's been a while since I went over the details of the story.

In the book, Rhett and Scarlett had a quarrel during their honeymoon when Rhett noticed Scarlett daydreaming about Ashley while they were in bed. Their marriage really hit the skids when Scarlett kicked Rhett out of her bed because she didn't want to gain more weight after Bonnie and because she had a little chat with Ashley in which he tells her he couldn't stand the thought of Rhett corrupting her.

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In the book, Rhett and Scarlett had a quarrel during their honeymoon when Rhett noticed Scarlett daydreaming about Ashley while they were in bed. Their marriage really hit the skids when Scarlett kicked Rhett out of her bed because she didn't want to gain more weight after Bonnie and because she had a little chat with Ashley in which he tells her he couldn't stand the thought of Rhett corrupting her.

 

Thank you, BatmanBeatles.  At least I remembered it almost halfway correctly.

 

The racism of GWTW bothers me; but the movie/book were created long before our civil rights movement, and the story itself is set in an even more racist era and when slavery was a fact of life.  So I cringe at times, but have come to accept GWTW for what it is:  A love story to a time and society long gone by written by a Confederate apologist, some of whose characters embraced the KKK*.  It's fiction, and I don't particularly identify or cheer for any of the characters, so in that way I have either compartmentalized things or distanced myself from the story; this may be a shortcoming on my part, but it is usually how I deal with subject matter I find distasteful. 

 

*Okay, that description came way too easy and is painted with a very broad brush but I will leave it for now.

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I meant Ashley - wasn't he in the Klan and didn't he help hang a free black man as some kind of act of "justice?"

 

Frank Kennedy was killed and Ashley wounded on a klan raid against a squatter colony where Scarlett was nearly raped (Big Sam, who was from Tara, saved her). Rhett pretended to the police that they were having to carry Ashley back home because he got drunk at a whorehouse. Melanie pretended that happened all the time. It was made clear that the men were all (except for Rhett) klansmen for the usual lofty reasons people gave for being klansmen.

Edited by Julia
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Thanks, Julia - I'll reread (or re-watch if possible) again before making more half-assed comments.

 

Oh, please don't feel weird about commenting - I read this book and watched the movie back when I was a geeky kid who substituted my fannish enthusiasms for human contact (we did that back in the day). So I probably remember more about this movie/book than I do about where I left my house keys. Which makes me the weird one, to say the least.

Edited by Julia
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Julia, I did much the same thing, but usually with Casablanca.  So I get it; I'm just frustrated that I don't remember GWTW as well as I thought I did.

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I showed it to a group of high school students one year and none of them had ever seen it.  Their verdict was Scarlett was a bitch, Melanie was cool, and Rhett was good in the end because he was a good dad.  They hated Prissy and groaned whenever she came on screen.

 

Regarding the Ashley KKK stuff not all the students caught on that it was the KKk that Ashley was involved in.  I don't think they ever state the name in the movie.

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All the Scarlett-Ashley-Melanie BS could've been nipped in the bud right at the beginnjng.

Scarlett was young, then, and romanticized the idea of being in love. Why she picked Ashley, I will never know, because they have nothing in common. However, Ashley right at the beginning tell Scarlett that he loves her he can't help loving her, because he was a simpering, Southern Gentleman. he didn't, or couldn't, be honest with Scarlett and tell her that he didn't love her in that way. That he loved her as a friend only and that he admired her strength.

yes, Scarlett is a b****, Ashley is weak, Frank is weak, charles is weak, India is a b****, and most of the other women are either flighty, or harsh, with the exception of Ellen, Mammie, Belle & Melanie, Rhett's a scoundrel, Mr. O'Hara is eccentric. To me the only man who has any worth is the doctor.

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Scarlett was young, then, and romanticized the idea of being in love. Why she picked Ashley, I will never know, because they have nothing in common.

In the book she said it was because he was so mysteries and stand-offish. If he had returned her flirtations, she would have gotten bored and moved on to the next guy.

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I showed it to a group of high school students one year and none of them had ever seen it.  Their verdict was Scarlett was a bitch, Melanie was cool, and Rhett was good in the end because he was a good dad.  They hated Prissy and groaned whenever she came on screen.

 

Regarding the Ashley KKK stuff not all the students caught on that it was the KKk that Ashley was involved in.  I don't think they ever state the name in the movie.

 

The production specifically avoided the KKK reference and just called it a "political meeting". The movie also left out the book's usage of the n-word. Calling it an effort to be racially sensitive is probably going too far, but the book is even more inflammatory and moviemakers at the time had to deal with criticisms from black groups/media about the story's content and toned some things down in response.

 

I read a comment once that GWTW is really the love story of Scarlet and Melanie, proven by how the story kind of peters out once Melanie dies.

 

Some screen tests for Scarlett, Melanie, Ashley and Mammy:

 

Edited by Dejana
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I really can't see Melvyn Douglas as Ashley.  Who thought that would have been a good idea?  Jeffrey Lynn looked good, and he was a front runner for a long time.

 

Some of the screen tests were probably about assuaging egos among the studio's talent roster and keeping GWTW in the news. Teenage Lana Turner as Scarlett? Yeah, that was going to happen. The nationwide casting call for Scarlett probably always had 0.00000001% chance of plucking some unknown from obscurity to lead such a major film, but it gave fangirls hope and added to the hype.

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Ashley was too much a coward.  To me, that makes him the object of Mitchell's true scorn.

 

Scarlett's sin was pride and the convictions that came with it - the opposite of Ashley, but awful in a different way.  To me, she was most definitely a villain.

 

As I see it, while Scarlett as a girl fell for Ashley's elegant mannerisms, her crush became an obsession serving her pride.  She will win him over because she can.  An added bonus was to later potentially stick it to her self-defined rival, Melanie.  Ashley was quite right when he told Scarlett that she would come to resent the stew out of him.  She would.  Then she would be more miserable than she had ever been as there would be no more personal relationship challenges that made any sense, or were much difficult.  

 

Rhett was no prize in a moral sense, but he readily admitted it.  Belle was arguably an early feminist.  They did what they did without apology and ultimately took actions which put them on the "right side of things."  They did not act out of pure selfishness as the war became hopeless.  Scarlett did take care of Melanie, but we all saw her revert to form once things turned around.  

 

For me, the movie is a masterful work of art.  

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I think they glossed over Tallulah a little too quickly. She was southern royalty (her dad was the Speaker of the House and a prominent Roosevelt ally), and there was a lot of support in the south for her getting the part despite the fact that she was more than twice as old as Scarlett was at the start of the movie.

Poor Leslie Howard looked so uncomfortable.

"Resent the stew out of" is a great expression.

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Some of the screen tests were probably about assuaging egos among the studio's talent roster and keeping GWTW in the news. Teenage Lana Turner as Scarlett? Yeah, that was going to happen. The nationwide casting call for Scarlett probably always had 0.00000001% chance of plucking some unknown from obscurity to lead such a major film, but it gave fangirls hope and added to the hype.

 

Vivian Leigh was an unknown, at least in the US.

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Some of the screen tests were probably about assuaging egos among the studio's talent roster and keeping GWTW in the news. Teenage Lana Turner as Scarlett? Yeah, that was going to happen. The nationwide casting call for Scarlett probably always had 0.00000001% chance of plucking some unknown from obscurity to lead such a major film, but it gave fangirls hope and added to the hype.

 

But Scarlett was 18 or so, wasn't she?  Still, a teenage actress might not have the chops to play a teenager. I do think the talent search was more publicity than actual search.

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Scarlett's sin was pride and the convictions that came with it - the opposite of Ashley, but awful in a different way.  To me, she was most definitely a villain.

 

As I see it, while Scarlett as a girl fell for Ashley's elegant mannerisms, her crush became an obsession serving her pride.  She will win him over because she can.  An added bonus was to later potentially stick it to her self-defined rival, Melanie.  Ashley was quite right when he told Scarlett that she would come to resent the stew out of him.  She would.  Then she would be more miserable than she had ever been as there would be no more personal relationship challenges that made any sense, or were much difficult.  

 

 

For some reason, I respect Scarlett; and mostly for that reason, I see her as more a flawed hero than a villain.  But I agree that Ashley became more of an obsession of hers than anything else.  She doesn't feel true love for him, and on some level he may know that.  I think that if Scarlett had been able to have loved Rhett Butler, he would have been a good match for her; he would likely have loved her for herself but would call her on the bullshit and maybe make her somewhat human.  But I don't know that she would have stood for that.

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Vivian Leigh was an unknown, at least in the US.

 

I wasn't speaking of unknown movie actors, but the casting call that went out to the general public, similar to the ones decades later for the Harry Potter movies. The "Southern Talent Search" visited several colleges, Junior League and theater groups in the region to audition hopefuls. It seems Selznick was genuinely interested in finding a Scarlett this way for a time, though the more cynical view is that it was more about finding a new star for his studio who could be put under contract fairly cheaply. The person in charge of traveling to all the stops, who actually had to see "debutante groups [who] giggle" and "every Miss Atlanta from twenty yearsback" (her words, the STS page has links to her audition observations and memos to Selznick) was a little warier about the effort having any real value to the movie, outside of publicity. Still, the actress who played India Wilkes did end up getting on the production's radar through one of these casting calls.

 

But Scarlett was 18 or so, wasn't she?  Still, a teenage actress might not have the chops to play a teenager. I do think the talent search was more publicity than actual search.

 

Scarlett is 16ish when the story starts at the beginning of the Civil War and in her late 20s when it ends, I think. For the later years, a teen actress probably would've been a stretch. Especially next to Leslie Howard.

Edited by Dejana
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Oh, please don't feel weird about commenting - I read this book and watched the movie back when I was a geeky kid who substituted my fannish enthusiasms for human contact (we did that back in the day). So I probably remember more about this movie/book than I do about where I left my house keys. Which makes me the weird one, to say the least.

I gotta laugh at this Julia, I am the same way.  I read the book something like 30 yrs ago and clearly remember getting to the end and thinking some pages were missing or something! 

 

The thing I remember about Scarlett from the book was that she wanted to be like her idolized mother and just wasn't.  Scarlett wasn't especially self-aware but she knew she was acting outside of society's expectations for her, so I did like that about her.  She kept pushing without really planning, even though she *knew* people would disapprove - sometimes she cared and sometimes she didn't.  Her idolization of her mother isn't shown in the movie.

 

I don't know anything about Margaret Mitchell so I don't know if she wanted to simply tell a story or what.  I don't think she intended Scarlett to be someone to root for all the time, she was too mean spirited and narrow minded in her own way, but i did root for her sometimes.  There's a comment in the book where Scarlett remembers being good at math, which was not something valued in a woman at that time.  When she finally got her own business, she pushed too hard chasing the dollars, but again it was kind of understandable - she didn't want to lose Tara or be poor, etc.  She didn't really have any ideals to lose; she's compared to other women who are poor but happy because they are doing it the *right* way.  I don't think MM really explored the lifestyle differences that much, what was the *right* way for a woman to do things, Scarlett was pretty much shown to be running her business the *wrong* way - using convicts and I think she cut corners in other ways to make a profit.  

 

Ashley was the teen crush because she couldn't have him and didn't really know him; as she got older he represented what was for her an easier time (you know, never mind all that nasty slavery stuff).  She realizes when Melanie dies that she will be supporting Ashley but at that point it doesn't make her happy.  At the end, is she intended to be grown up now, realizing she had what she really wanted all along and now it's lost?  Pretty depressing LOL.

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I think that if Scarlett had been able to have loved Rhett Butler, he would have been a good match for her; he would likely have loved her for herself but would call her on the bullshit and maybe make her somewhat human.  But I don't know that she would have stood for that.

 

Which is sad, because if you look at the clip above, one of the scenes is the one where she more or less begged Ashley to take her away (which would have made both of them dead to everyone they ever knew) because she couldn't stand being the one in charge any more, and she just wanted to let it go. Which was more or less what Rhett wanted to give her, and Ashley couldn't have given her at gunpoint. 

 

Actually, if you look at it that way, it's sort of a creepy fore-runner of Atlas Shrugged.

The "Southern Talent Search" visited several colleges, Junior League and theater groups in the region to audition hopefuls. It seems Selznick was genuinely interested in finding a Scarlett this way for a time, though the more cynical view is that it was more about finding a new star for his studio who could be put under contract fairly cheaply.

I'm pretty sure that's how they found Edythe Marrenner / Susan Hayward.

 

Ashley was the teen crush because she couldn't have him and didn't really know him; as she got older he represented what was for her an easier time (you know, never mind all that nasty slavery stuff).  She realizes when Melanie dies that she will be supporting Ashley but at that point it doesn't make her happy.  At the end, is she intended to be grown up now, realizing she had what she really wanted all along and now it's lost?  Pretty depressing LOL.

Seriously. I can't decide whether Margaret Mitchell was just Dorothy Parker-style bitter about what the world does to women or if she just didn't like us very much. I suppose they're not mutually exclusive.

Edited by Julia
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The thing I remember about Scarlett from the book was that she wanted to be like her idolized mother and just wasn't.

She was more like her father. Shrewd and quick tempered.

 

In the book she thought that once she had money and security again she could be the southern lady her mother was and everyone will love and approve of her. Of course, when she did get those things with Rhett, she had burned too many bridges and her reputation was beyond repair.

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I love this  topic. I've seen this movie more times than I can count. I've read the book twice. I've even read Scarlet but the movie sucked. I can't get through the scene where Mammy tells Mellenie what happened after Bonnie dies without sobbing. That gets me every time. 

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I do too. Not only did he cheat on her mentally, but he was a lousy provider. He was only good for reading books and daydreaming.

 

I found that so frustrating. He's not too noble to take the paycheck, but he's too noble to earn it? Because it would be bending his principles to pry the stick out [wherever noble antebellum failures keep their sticks] and actually help run the business - which might have given him some influence over _how the business was run_ - but his fastidiousness could stretch to letting the married woman he was stringing along support his wife?  

 

But then, I always figured Melanie knew who both Ashley and Scarlett were, and that she loved them anyway.

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I do too. Not only did he cheat on her mentally, but he was a lousy provider. He was only good for reading books and daydreaming.

 

As I recall, Ashley found a position in a bank in New York, but Scarlet and Melanie insisted that Ashley work at the lumber business.

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Wow, I've found my GWTW peeps!

 

While the book was superior in many ways to the movie, one of my favorite changes was the editing out of the characters Will (who ended up marrying Suellen after Scarlett snared Frank) and Archie (the grizzled oldtimer that showed up when Scarlett and Melanie moved back to Atlanta). The net result of this was that Hattie McDaniel's Mammy inherited some of their best lines ("He's her husband, ain't he?" and "Don't you doubt Miss Melly's word!"). I feel it rounded out her character and gave the film's Mammy more depth than the book's Mammy had.  I think these additional scenes contributed in no small way to McDaniel's Oscar win (in addition, of course, to her wonderful scene describing Rhett's breakdown to Melanie as they both climbed up the stairs.)

 

Just my two cents. :)

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I always figured Scarlett wanted Ashley because he was the one thing she couldn't have.  I didn't really think it through any further than that to what he represented for her.  Just that every other man in her vicinity wanted a piece but he could've cared less one way or the other and it pissed her off that he was seemingly not charmed by her.  And she thought Melanie was beneath her, so the fact that he chose her just pissed her off even more.

 

*shrugs*

 

I also figured that's why she finally realized in the end that she loved Rhett.  Because he was done with her now and she wouldn't have it.

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I dunno. She seemed generally distressed and shocked that Ashley was going to marry Melanie. Even though her father told her that the Hamilton's & Wilkes always marry each other.

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So happy to have found this thread! I've seen the movie countless times but like the book better.

I never liked Rhett. I thought he was a total hypocrite that encouraged Scarlett to not care about her reputation until they married and had Bonnie. I hate the whole "poor Rhett, Scarlett was so mean to him" idea. He married Scarlett knowing exactly who she was but was self centred enough to think he could content her with his fabulous self.

I don't feel Melanie was the saint she's made out to be either. In the book she let that horrid wife murderer Archie live with and work for them and frankly, if she were a man I'm pretty certain she'd have joined up with the KKK herself. She certainly condoned it.

Thank goodness Paulette Goddard didn't get the part of Scarlett. IMO her screen tests are cringeworthy.

I always figured Scarlett wanted Ashley because he was the one thing she couldn't have.  I didn't really think it through any further than that to what he represented for her.  Just that every other man in her vicinity wanted a piece but he could've cared less one way or the other and it pissed her off that he was seemingly not charmed by her.  And she thought Melanie was beneath her, so the fact that he chose her just pissed her off even more.

 

*shrugs*

 

I also figured that's why she finally realized in the end that she loved Rhett.  Because he was done with her now and she wouldn't have it.

I always thought this too. I can see her turning her Ashley obsession to Rhett and spending years trying to get him back.

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Ashley in the book was pretty reprehensible, but Ashley in the movie was played by a British war hero that intellectual women like my mother found more appealing than Clark Gable.

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