Old Lady Movie Night Old Lady Movie Night: "Gone With the Wind" (Part One) Anne T. Donahue

GREAT BALLS OF FIRE, it’s 2013. Can you believe it? I can, because it’s the year that comes after 2012. But if you were still reeling from the fact that it was actually 2012, then oh man, YOU ARE HAVING A BLAST.

Personally, I am really having a blast because I am coming off of the holidays, and into the loving arms of a movie I love. New year, new movies, you guys! And by “new movies” I absolutely mean movies like the one we are going to watch, which is from 1939. But do you know what? IT’S WORTH IT. Full disclosure: I was obsessed with Gone With the Wind when I was in grade eight, and I’ve never fully gotten over it.

I wish I could tell you why I was obsessed. I think I really liked the costumes and also how Scarlett O’Hara DGAF. I even wrote a paper on Vivien Leigh and nobody understood (they’re loss). And now, older, I watch it and really admire that a character like Scarlett was written (I mean, the woman basically braves a war solo, then makes a fortune as a businesswoman despite the disapproval of various town-folk), and also, that Clark Gable exists. (SUE ME. I HAVE A CRUSH.) (Please don’t sue me.)

So let’s get on with it! We have 259252853535 hours of film to go through! IN TWO PARTS (because my GOD, this movie is long). Part one, we begin with Scarlett and friends eating food and hanging out. Also, Technicolor! And again, Clark Cable, who I love.

1. “I’ll think about that tomorrow!”

Is a quote my Dad will STILL repeat to me, because we both couldn’t get over how much we loved when Scarlett said it. (He’d watch the movie with me sometimes in grade eight, too.) True, she’s basically the poster child for procrastination, but I WILL think about something tomorrow if I don’t want to think about it now. Also, maybe that’s just a good mantra for life…? No, it absolutely is not. But I will still absolutely channel her if, say, I owe money on my phone bill and don’t have it today, and will be forced to think about it again tomorrow. Not that anything like that is happening. Or has happened. Or will probably happen again.

2. Also, could you imagine anybody else as Scarlett O’Hara? 

No. That’s a ridiculous question, and I deserve to have my DVD thrown into the sea for asking something so completely insane. I actually just ordered Vivien Leigh’s biography (THE SAME ONE I READ IN GRADE EIGHT #WHAT #WHAT) so let’s all have a moment of silence about THAT. Apparently, people were horrified to hear she’d been cast when she was, and then those same people were served a harsh dose of reality when they realized that she OWNED this role. She owned it. Just like she owned A Streetcar Named Desire which I have yet to see because I am a disappointment to the world of “people who have seen important movies.”

3. We have absolutely all been in the same boat as Scarlett in terms of gentlemen

Or in terms of gentle-MAN, and one gentleman in particular, Ashley Wilkes. THIS GUY. Don’t even get me started. For me, I entertained the idea of several types of Ashley Wilkes from seven to this year (and then I realized that they never change). Here’s who Ashley Wilkes is in real life: a guy who likes attention. Right?! He has a wife! A FAMILY. And he STILL won’t just tell Scarlett he’s not interested — he acts interested just so she’ll keep fawning over him. HELL NO. Especially since we (the people who have watched GWTW) blame her! Well maybe let’s also blame HIM since she probably would have gotten over him had he just ignored her or told her it’s never going to happen. But nooooooo, he just kept giving her hope. This guy. Ashley Wilkes and I are enemies, as are all those who act like him.

4. Also, Mammy is the true star of this movie

FOR REAL. That’s why she won the well-deserved Oscar, and Scarlett listens to everything she says. And because I have no documents proving otherwise, I’m going to assume this applied to off the set, too. Obviously.

5. And poor Melanie in all of this!

Like, COME ON, UNIVERSE. This poor woman descends upon Twelve Oaks, marries her cousin (#why), has the worst pregnancy of life, has an even worse delivery, and then DIES. THEN THE WHOLE TIME, ASHLEY IS TELLING SCARLETT HE LOVES HER. I mean, come on, everybody! At least she has Rhett, who I would have loved her to elope with. And us, guys. She has us, her true friends, in this imaginary land I have created for this movie specifically.

6. But remember when Charles Hamilton — Melanie’s  brother — tells Scarlett he loves her 10 minutes after meeting?

AND SHE MARRIES HIM? Imagine? You show up to a party. You basically hate everyone there, and then flirt with this one guy to make another guy jealous (ill-advised — please don’t do that), and then the flirt-ee is all, “I LOVE YOU.” So instead of moving very far away from him and going into a different room every time he goes into the one you are in, you marry him. Imagine you do that. Just… imagine. Like the John Lennon song, but with far less hope.

7. I will say that I think it would absolutely suck to have to wear black for what, 16 years?

How did “in mourning” work? Either way, being a society girl or abiding by rules like this, would just be the worst. I mean, if you truly love someone and you’re in mourning, valid — those are feelings. But HAVING to wear black and stay in seclusion? No thank you. Thus, Scarlett, you SHOULD want to dance at this place where Rhett Butler is! (Does everybody know what scene I’m talking about?) And you SHOULD dance! Also, shout-out to Melanie who doesn’t care what Scarlett does. (See? The best character. And she totally gets the short end of the stick on top of it all. OF IT ALL.)

8. “I believe in Rhett Butler, that’s the only cause I know”

DROPS EVERY MIC THAT HAS EVER BEEN MADE. Rhett Butler, ladies and gentlemen. And then he bids on Scarlett so she can dance with him. WHATTA MAN. Congratulations, everyone involved in this decision, you did it right. Also, okay. I’m going to sound like a major “golden age”-type thinker, but DANCING. Whatever happened to it? I will tell you what the last thing I want to do is: go to a bar and grind with some bro, and just . . . ugh. No. We ruined it, everyone. And not even “we.” Our parents? Who is responsible for this? WHY ARE BARS SO GROSS NOW.

9. But seriously every time Scarlett asks Rhett about Ashley or mentions Ashley to Rhett I don’t eve know how to deal

Right? Just . . . my GOD. NO! STOP IT! Even just have the tact NOT to say his name, Scarlett. Even if you mentioned people who are anybody OTHER than Ashley, just to get the necessary information. Like, “Oh, is [Ashley's best friend who you both know] going to be there, maybe?” THERE YOU GO. Also, I mean, even when the Ashley Wilkes equivalents of my life existed, I was very quick to pretend I didn’t like them at all to anybody who wasn’t them. I don’t know if that’s better or worse. But I will say that props DO go to Scarlett for being persistent? At least there’s that.

10. And fine, I will say it again: we really are all Scarlett O’Hara

So it’s Christmas, and everybody shows up from the war to be with their families, and Scarlett stands in the corner and watches Melanie and Ashley make out on the train platform while she wears her new hat (which was a gift from Rhett, played by my boyfriend, Clark Cable). WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE. ALL OF US. EVERY ONE. Dressing all fancy to see someone you like, then watching that person be all couple-y with whoever they’re with. And what do you do? If you’re Scarlett, you watch in horror and disgust. If you’re the rest of us, you . . . watch in horror and disgust. So, see? We are all Scarlett O’Hara.

11. UGH ASHLEY STOP IT

And now Melanie’s too sick to get out of bed. And what does he do? Fish for compliments from Scarlett while he makes her tie on a sash that she made him. Giving her lines like, “You made it? Then I shall treasure it all the more.” GIVE IT UP, YOU HORRIBLE MAN. But that’s not all! Now he has to ask Scarlett to look after his wife when he knows Scarlett is in love with him. WHO DOES THAT? I’ll tell you who: Ashley Wilkes, the devil. Oh my goodness now they’re making out in the hall. GET OUT OF HERE, WILKES. WHO ARE YOU. THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE.

12. I will say that Gone With the Wind does a really great job of highlighting the horrors of the Civil War

Now this is coming from a Canadian person who hasn’t seen Lincoln yet or actually any Civil War movie, BUT I will still say that it’s very hard not to be affected by this movie. For 1939, that’s quite a feat — especially since in 2012, years of really violent movies have absolutely left most of us desensitized. But I still tear up from Scarlett working in the hospital (the amputation scene! I HATE IT) almost straight through until she gets back to Tara. And then that’s even worse, because, well, well get to that. [EMOTICONS ARE NOT ENOUGH]

13. Belle Watkins! YOU GO, GIRL

And let me just say that Scarlett and the rest of those women need to STEP OFF and stop calling Belle “trash.” So she’s an escort or something! Who cares! She’s a person, and a GOOD person, and a smart businesswoman, and a friend of Rhett “I am the man” Butler. Belle Watkins seems like the type of dame I would absolutely care to be associated with. She also seems like the type of person who tells it like it is, and therefore, would likely become some sort of life guru for me and those I care about. Don’t worry, Belle! HATERS ARE GOING TO HATE.

14. And listen, not to objectify, but Rhett, you can DRESS

And not just for the Civil War-era south, FOR NOW. And he shows up wearing his suit, and in his sweet carriage, and THEN admits that he’s a man who “likes her just for who she is.” AMEN. Also, though, can we talk about WHY Scarlett hates Rhett so much? Is it because he knows about Ashley? I’m genuinely asking. I just realized I don’t actually know. I mean, they danced together and she was pretty cool about that…? What happened? WHAT AM I MISSING. SHOULD I HATE RHETT TOO? #FEELINGS

15. Oh boy and then Melanie goes into labour

WELP. That’s a day ruiner. And not in general! Having a baby isn’t a day ruiner! I mean, Melanie going into labour when they need to escape Atlanta or be killed is a day ruiner. That is some terrible, terrible, terrible timing. Just the worst. Even Melanie’s probably like, “Honestly, I’m sorry. This was the worst. Even if I had gone into labour YESTERDAY, it’d be better. Even if I had gone into labour ON THE DRIVE.” And then everyone would nod and say, “Yeah, that was pretty brutal. Like, literally ANY OTHER TIME IN THE WORLD would have been better.”

16. AND PRISSY

Great balls of fire WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER. Although it was a family joke — circa 1999 — to sing “there’s no place like home” (what Prissy sings when she gets back to the house) because my Mom hated that scene more than anything (“WHY IS SHE JUST SINGING LIKE THAT”). WALKED being the operative word, because she was told to RUN to get the doctor because Melanie was HAVING A CHILD AT HOME WITH NOTHING BUT LIKE, A SHEET. Oh, but good news, everybody: Prissy actually lied about knowing how to deliver babies, so now Scarlett gets to do it herself. I think by that point I don’t even know if I could yell at her…? I think I’d just probably start crying and try to invent a cellphone or a time machine to get me into the future, where we were anywhere else. Like a hospital. In 2013. And I would force Prissy to become a midwife or a doctor so she’d never say she didn’t know how to deliver babies again.

17. Scarlett’s breakdown is totally justified

So here’s probably what Daniel Powter wrote “Bad Day” about: you’re stuck delivering the child of the guy you’re in love with (“in love” because he is the worst human and I refuse to imagine they could ever be together), and then you have to escape under the cloak of darkness via horse and carriage while a city blows up around you. Here’s how I would react: less like Scarlett. Less crying into Rhett’s arms, and more, “HELL NO I DID NOT LEAVE THE SOUTH SIDE FOR THIS.” (Tim Meadows in Mean Girls, guys, come on!) I don’t even really know what that means, but I would build overhead sprinkles just so I could set them off for drama’s sake.

18. But seriously, for 1939 this movie is INTENSE

Right?! I know I just said it a few points earlier, but for the love of all that is good, ATLANTA IS BURNING AND IT LOOKS PRETTY REAL. Like, *I* couldn’t do it. None of us! We couldn’t make this movie. (Unless you are a movie producer, and in this case, you can absolutely make this movie. Congratulations.) Yet it still stands! And Rhett’s suits are still great! And Scarlett is badass! And Melanie’s going to pass out in the back of the wagon! Congratulations, 1939. You win this round.

19. Then Rhett leaves Scarlett and calls her selfish?

NOW THIS I WOULD HATE HIM FOR. Right? I understand that he wants to join up with “the cause,” but here’s the thing: he is leaving three young women and a NEWBORN BABY alone in a wagon in the middle of the war! I can absolutely confirm that if somebody did that to any of us, it would be a relationship ender. And I’m not saying you need a guy to “protect” you, but you absolutely do need as many people as you can when you’re walking through a wartorn country. Like, six minutes ago, a bunch of men were trying to JUMP ON THE WAGON AND STEAL IT. Good LORD, Rhett.

Yeah, no. Not good enough.

20. I hate the road trip scene

Yes, I know it’s not a road trip. Obviously, it’s the worst journey in the history of time and space. I hate it. I actually cannot with that entire scene for several reasons (read: two): the screaming baby and the sickly horse. I FEEL REALLY BAD FOR THE HORSE, OKAY? I really, really hate the horse part. Animals in movies are just too much. I’ll never see War Horse for that very reason.

21. Prissy is also afraid of cows

Which I laughed at until I remembered how I absolutely freaked out the other day when too many pigeons came near me. But seriously, Prissy. COWS? Sweet merciful tiny dancer. YOU HAVE SEEN THE WAR HAPPEN. And speaking of things we can never un-see . . .

22. Remember Uncle Billy in It’s A Wonderful Life?

I do, because that was the last movie we all watched together. (#MEMORIES) And do you want to know a fun fact? He played Scarlett’s Dad in GWTW. Only now, he is not the fun-loving horse-jumping gentleman of one hour ago. He is a broken man, who is obviously suffering from post-traumatic stres, and now I can’t separate him and Uncle Billy. Because something’s wrong with me? And whenever I see Uncle Billy I think “please stay away from horses!” and whenever I see Mr. O’Hara, I think, “DO NOT TALK TO POTTER AT THE BANK.” Never, “That man is an actor who was in two different movies.”

23. But her homecoming really is a reminder of how much of a force Scarlett is

I think we get really hung up on her love life, but HELLO, let’s forget that for a second and focus on the fact that she not only MANEUVERED A CARRIAGE WITH PEOPLE IN IT through the entire south, she gets home, finds her mom has died TRAGICALLY (the day before), then pulls it together and starts delegating tasks because she refuses to be held down. YOU GO, GIRL. This character gets. it. done. #BOSS

24. “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”

I also learned that in this scene, she goes into the garden, digs up mushrooms or plants or something, eats them, covered in dirt, then throws up before making this declarative statement. I am 100% confident in saying the former would do it for me: I would probably just curl up at that point and beg people to spoon food me soup. Or anything. Or just … go back for the time machine I’d built for when Melanie was having her baby.

25. INTERMISSION

And so that’s where we’ll leave it for this week! PART ONE, it’s pretty real. Though PART TWO (why am I capitalizing these words?) is where the real magic happens. Not to spoil anything, but Rhett plays a PRETTY big role in the next hour or so of television. And not to spoil anything again, but my patience with Ashley Wilkes plummets even more somehow. How? Well you’ll just have to come back in approximately seven days.

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  1. Ashley Wilkes, I freaking hate that guy!

  2. hilare. having just watched this movie not too long ago i have to say, i could not have agreed more with every. single. thing. you just said. it’s as if you were me, and i was writing this article myself. kudos, looking forward to part 2

  3. i read this book when i was in 8th grade and again just last year. i need to watch the movie again (#obvi) but I was blown away by the story when I read the book again. Talk about standing the test of time!

  4. im pretty sure you are my inner thoughts writing this! i too became obsessed with gone with the wind in 8th grade and it was my first book report ever (which is a big book to tackle at that age). i could watch this movie over and over and over again.
    did you know mamie was banned from attending the premiere in atlanta because she was black and clark gable, who was like her BFF was going to protest the premiere but she made him go? did you also know that this is the still the highest grossing film ever?
    i love you for writing this. cant wait for part 2

  5. I just want to say first of all that I love you for loving Clark Gable and knowing who he is. And this movie is AWESOME. (And extremely long) I have an “old lady movie night” almost every night. Old movies are the best! Thanks for writing this article! :)

  6. I have to agree about Melanie. I feel for the poor woman. I suppose the whole marrying within the family thing is like the English Royal Family marriage-thing of the past: marry within the family, so the blood stays blue. But if I were Melly, I would be all up in Scarlett’s face, telling her to back off (and maybe smack Ashley).

  7. Have not watched this in YEARS. But I think it might be time. But one thing I DO remember is HATING ASHLEY WILKES. I mean…RIGHT? The worst! Even to my sixth grade self, I remember thinking wouldn’t it be nice if he died in battle? And then Scarlet+Rhett 4evs!

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