MSN.com recently posted an article on 10 classic films arguing that these movies need to be demoted. The article suggested that these films – defined by movie lovers for generations as true classics and in some cases, cinematic masterpieces – are not worthy of the title “classic.” Number one on the list was Gone With the Wind. Fortunately for the author of this article, he admitted that such a suggestion was sacrilegious in nature. Those of us who love GWTW will feel outrage at his suggestion. Shall we line up and take turns with Gerald’s riding crop? I suppose we don’t need to go to those kinds of lengths, but it’s tempting to give such a blasphemer a piece of our minds!
The article stated that GWTW is filled with melodramatics, poor backdrops with inadequate performances by Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Hattie McDaniel, and Butterfly McQueen. It suggests that the film is past its prime and fails to live up to almost seven decades of accolades.
That riding crop is sounding better and better, isn’t it?
The article does raise an interesting question though. Could Gone With the Wind be remade today and have the impact of the 1939 version?
For me, the answer is a resounding no.
I have a soft spot for classic movies, Gone With the Wind in particular. Most of the time – I always prefer the original to the remake. Classics such as 1940’s The Shop Around the Corner (later to become You’ve Got Mail); 1947’s The Bishop’s Wife (later to become The Preacher’s Wife); the 1954 edition of Sabrina; 1961’s The Parent Trap…absolutely delightful films and while some remakes are acceptable and (in some cases) enjoyable films – the originals are almost always the best version. There are rare exceptions. I prefer the 1945 version of State Fair to the 1933 version. Similarly, I prefer...hmm…actually, no…that’s the only remake I can think of that I like better…
One could argue that a remake of GWTW would be far superior insofar as technology goes, but as technology has evolved over 69 years since GWTW was made – it’s a little like comparing apples to oranges. For 1939, technology in GWTW was way ahead of its time. That no ceilings were ever built, but painted on glass is still incredible to me. And I love that the barbeque scene at Twelve Oaks was almost completely painted in…
Additionally, there is not a single Hollywood star I can even begin to imagine playing Scarlett or Rhett. The cast assembled in 1939 was impeccable and it is impossible to imagine anyone reprising the roles with any success. The closest I could concede is possibly Renee Zellweger as Melanie. However, that’s only because I think Renee Zellweger is a remarkable actress who can handle virtually anything she’s handed. But, if anyone ever should dare to tackle a GWTW remake, I would sincerely pity those cast. The shoes they would have to fill are enormous.
I admit that there are elements of the book that I would have loved to have seen in the film. Characters like Dilcey and Will Benteen are terrific editions to the book and one of my all time favorite book-scenes is when Grandma Fontaine compares Scarlett and Ashley to buckwheat and wheat. Realizing that Selznick had to trim the book considerably, I understand their absence and instead of hoping to see them in a remake, I’ll just continue to enjoy these characters and scenes in the book.
Admittedly, my biggest fear in a GWTW remake is today’s trend of gratuitous sex scenes. They would add nothing in my opinion and I am afraid that any director today would add these scenes, specifically the rape scene between Scarlett and Rhett. I’m not a prude, but c’mon – does Hollywood think that no one in America has an imagination?
Bottom line – the idea of anyone even attempting to recreate Selznick’s masterpiece is ludicrous to me. Some things really should not be tampered with but preserved in their original greatness. Selznick’s interpretation of Gone With the Wind is certainly one of them.
What do you think? I look forward to reading your comments!