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Gone With The Wind breezes into area theaters on its 75 th birthday

by Mark Burger

After more than a century of American movies, Gone With the Wind (1939) is still the favorite of many a movie fan to this day. Adjusted for inflation, Gone With the Wind also ranks as the biggest box-office success in Hollywood history.

Now, Fathom Events has teamed up with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Turner Classic Movies (TCM) to bring this epic saga back to movie screens to commemorate its 75th anniversary. Two area theaters – the Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 and The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX “” will host this special cinematic event.

At the Greensboro Grande Stadium 16, the film will be shown 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, followed by encore screenings 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. next Wednesday. At The Grand 18 Winston-Salem, the film will be shown 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. next Wednesday.

The film has been digitally enhanced and restored to its original aspect ratio (1:37), and the presentation is preceded by an introduction featuring long-time film historian and TCM host Robert Osbourne (something of a legend himself).

In the glittering year of 1939, considered by many to be one of Hollywood’s single best in filmmaking history, Gone With the Wind earned 13 Oscar nominations and bested most of its competition by winning eight (in competition) and two honorary awards: Best Picture, Best Director (Victor Fleming), Best Actress (Vivien Leigh), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel), Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, and special awards for William Cameron Menzies (achievement in color enhancing) and for Don Musgrave and Selznick International Pictures for pioneering the use of coordinated equipment. The film also received Oscar nominations for Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Supporting Actress (Olivia de Havilland), Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score and Best Sound Recording.

Margaret Mitchell’s novel, published in 1936, was the best-seller of its time, and once producer David O. Selznick secured the rights to the film, Gone With the Wind was easily the most written-about, talkedabout, and hyped film of its time.

Everybody seemed to agree that Clark Gable would be perfect casting as Rhett Butler. Everybody, it seems “¦ except Clark Gable. Additionally, it took two years of negotiations with MGM, with whom Gable had a contract, for Selznick to secure him for the role. During that time, it is rumored that some 1,400 actresses were tested for Scarlett O’Hara – among those considered were Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner and Susan Hayward, to name a few – before Vivien Leigh nabbed the role, and her first Best Actress Oscar along with it. As for Gable, rumor has it that he figured he was a shoo-in to win his second Best Actor Oscar for Gone With the Wind, only to see Robert Donat take the Oscar home for Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

The making of the film is equally as legendary as the film itself. The production went over-schedule and over-budget, and more than one director called the shots at one time or another – including producer Selznick himself. There was even controversy about the film’s immortal final line: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” (Selznick had to fork over a $5,000 fine.) Few would argue that the end result was worth it.

In retrospect, of course, there are those who claim the film is dated, particularly with regard to the realities of the Civil War – and it’s very true that McDaniel, the first black actress to win an Academy Award, was seated at the rear of the auditorium during the Oscar ceremony. (Even more galling, particularly to the actress herself, is that her acceptance speech was written for her.)

Yet for all the contemporary criticisms and brickbats that can legitimately be leveled at the film, Gone With the Wind remains a Hollywood triumph. There’s no other film like it, and there never will be. Tomorrow is another day, but Gone With the Wind is now and forever a classic. !

WANNA go?

Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 is located at 3205 Northline Ave., Greensboro (in the Friendly Center), The Grand 18 Winston-Salem IMAX at 5601 University Parkway, Winston-Salem. Tickets are $12.50 and advance reservations are suggested. For advance tickets or more information, check out www.FathomEvents.com.

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