Posted by Miriam Bale on Sat, Mar 13, 2010 at 1:38 PM
Molly Haskell, author ofFrankly, My Dear, will introduceGone with the Wind at Film Forum on Sunday afternoon.
Gone with the Wind plays this weekend in Film Forum’s Victor Fleming festival, but is it really a Fleming film? Uber-producer David Selznick is the most consistent author, and Selznick doppelganger George Cukor directed a significant amount of scenes, giving this domestic war film some moments more delicate and subtle than anything else in Fleming’s oeuvre (and after macho Fleming was brought on replace the openly gay Cukor at Clark Gable’s urging, the “women’s director” went on to coach Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland on weekends, at their insistence, throughout the shoot); and Vivien Leigh gives a scarily mercurial performance in almost every scene, owning the film entirely. At the time of the film’s release, Frank Nugent in the New York Times wrote, “Is it the greatest motion picture ever made? Probably not, although it is the greatest motion mural we have ever seen.”
It’s a mural made by many hands, and the esteemed critic Molly Haskell’s latest book, Frankly My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited does a fabulous job of parsing out the contributions. She reveals nuggets like Howard Hawks’ supposed uncredited contribution in rewriting some of the dialogue in the last section, the battle of the sexes showdown between Rhett and Scarlett, which helps make sense why this particular section feels like an entirely different film from the historical romance of Part 1. Another uncredited writer was F. Scott Fitzgerald; Haskell's digging suggests that what he eliminated from the film may be as important as what anyone else contributed. She also describes writer Ben Hecht maintaining as a point-of-pride that he had never nor never would read the mass-market epic romance on which the film was based—so Selznick and Fleming stayed up all night on a diet of...