An 85th Anniversary Surprise Booking ... (2024)

An 85th Anniversary Surprise Booking ... (1)

Gone with the WindBlew Back Last Week

An 85th Anniversary Surprise Booking ... (2)

A part of me is for shortening Gone with the Wind to simply Gone. Andyet there are pockets that care, 116 of them showing up for a Fathom Events runthis past week, my local six-plex using GWTW for one matinee (Sunday) and twoevening runs (Monday, then Wednesday). Admission was $10, which means they collected$1160 total. That may have been more than Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire or KungFu Panda 4 took for comparable play. I dealt myself in for Sunday afternoon,time served one hour, as here is where audible reaction most occurs, at least that was case on distant occasions when me and audiences intersected.Back then prints were bad, good, worn, intact … one never knew. This time GWTW was digital and that translates more/less to idiot proof, so worrynot of wrong ratio or faded color. This looked and sounded OK if dimmer, thoughI’d guess audiences by now are resigned to that. GWTWran in a smaller roomto seat 125, so Sunday’s 55 seemed a crowd. Here was chance to see what Rhettand Scarlett could do with 2024 viewership. Obviously none came on casual impulse … not toa four-hour film, most having seen GWTW I expect, never on a big screenperhaps, as was case with the lady who cuts my hair who pledged weeks ago notto miss her all-time favorite movie “as it was meant to be seen.” I had ears upfor response to specific scenes well recalled for how each played ahalf-century back. Would they go same directions again? Answer was yes, with afew surprising no’s.

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Gone with the Wind
was pondered last at Greenbriar in 2010. Manycomments were posted, these worth a latter look after fourteen years elapsed.I tried this time to put myself in the place of today-folk watching a 1939release. Were any there who had never seen GWTW? If so, they were in for somethingunlike all that is modern filmmaking, and more so, storytelling. Is anycurrent film so heavily scored? I’d like to think someone among theuninitiated might “discover” the music and want more of same sort, or is thattoo wishful thinking? Love for lush accompany might be too high a hill foranyone young (even old) to climb, for didn’t movies abandon classical/romantic modelsby the sixties, certainly the seventies? I felt keenly Wind'sage when ThomasMitchell did his Tara speech and the camera rolled back for a majesty take.When was this sort of thing last attempted? Gone with the Wind defines narrative-driven,bearing in mind this isn’t something moderns necessarily want, so does GWTWsuffer for its discipline and careful construction? Characters are dense andpiled high. Could you scroll, text, as so many do, and still keep up? Lots insista movie permit all this, which may be why coherence matters so much less now. No film today is remotely like Gone with the Wind,whereas on 1967-68 occasion for a major reissue, there were still features thatharked back, at least tentatively, to the epic original. Imitators steppedboldly forward just ten years before, Raintree County and lately mentioned Band of Angels. I wasn’t nervous watching GWTW for not being responsible forhow it would be received, my days for bringing anything vintage before current watchershappily and mercifully passed.

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Gone with the Wind
was for years a gateway drug to old film addiction. Exposureenough, repeated enough, made a rest of the Classic Era simpler to access, easierto enjoy. How possible was it to sit a civilian down for black-and-white recitalby faces all of which were unfamiliar? During the sixties-seventies at least, morepeople saw GWTW than any way-past title saveTheWizard of Oz, opportunity arising to widen their acquaintance with at least the four principalsfrom Wind: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, and Olivia DeHavilland. Gableas lure brought groups of sorority girls to my 1975 collegiate run of Honky Tonk, all of them there for knowing him as Rhett Butler. My sister long ago satthrough televised Intermezzo with me after recognizing Leslie Howard, and howmany tolerated Errol Flynn pictures I showed at school for familiar face OliviaDeHavilland showing up in them? Clark Gable acknowledged in later years that Gonewith the Wind was what primarily kept his name alive and enabled public forgivenessfor weaker movies he had done. Ever asked someone who liked GWTW if they’dseen anything else with one of its stars? Had they not, chances are they might bewilling to. Wish I could have polled Wind’s exiting audience last week, me as modern-dayJohnny Grant with Rock, Pretty Baby’s crowd. As it is, my stay was lessthan whole of runtime, truth of matter being I’m hard pressed to sit among anaudience that long. Comfort of home has become too comfortable. When Blu-Raylooks hands down better than anything they can project upon public screens …well, that’s progress of a sort I suppose, but are we richer for it? Me for thedoor once data was gathered.

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Query to all: Was Gone with the Wind the only Clark Gable starringfeature where he did not end up with the girl? Did Leslie Howard reallysacrifice himself so the Germans would not realize the Brits had broken theircode? Had Vivien Leigh’s bipolar condition become a handicap by the time sheplayed Scarlett, and if not then, when? I knew a collector named Herb Bridgeswho lived in Atlanta and had the largest GWTW stash of anyone under one roof.We visited him once and I got to hold the green Paris hat that Rhett broughtScarlett. Also went to a high school basketball gym where the Scarlett portraithung, and you could still see a dent where Rhett threw his glass against it. Pleased to report 2024’s audience laughed at samespots they had before, the biggest when Aunt Pitty fainted at the bazaar, amost appreciative when Rhett says “And you, Mrs. Hamilton, I know just how muchthat meant to you.” Suppose Selznick penned that line? It could have been anyof a dozen credited, or not, scribes. Either way, it's deathless. Most interesting and unexpected was the viewing55’s non-reaction at Rand Brooks’ proposal to Scarlett, specifically hisskipping away after her acceptance for “Mr. O’Hara, Mr. O’Hara!” Later when we’reshown a letter from the War Department informing Scarlett of Charles’ death wherein Measles is listed as the cause, audiences of my past tittered or laughed outright once eyesscrolled to the bottom, but this time, and for a first time I’ve experienced, there was stillness. Do present-day neighbors feel a greater compassion for Charles Hamilton thancrueler counterparts I grew up among? What a difference fifty years makes. Annrecalls patronage stood up the street and around our local bank’s corner to see aSunday matinee for Gone with the Wind at the Liberty in 1972. Comparing thiswith the 55 I saw it with seems a considerable drop down, the Liberty seating700 in those days, but saints be praised for mere fact Gone with the Wind wasshown theatrically at all, it among oldies I’d least expect to turn up in thisor any present year.

An 85th Anniversary Surprise Booking ... (2024)
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