Posts Tagged ‘clark gable’

GoneTara“Gone With the Wind” screens at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, August 2, 2014 in the Durwood Film Vault of the Kansas City Central Library, 14W. 10th St.  Admission is free. It’s part of the year-long film series Hollywood’s Greatest Year, featuring movies released in 1939.


In the wake of “12 Years a Slave,” is it still possible to enjoy “Gone With the Wind” with the same enthusiasm with which it traditionally has been received?

That’s the question I asked myself as I sat down to watch the film for the umpteenth time…but the first time since seeing “12 Years a Slave.”

Steve McQueen’s 2013 historic drama – based on the true story of a free black man from New York who in the years before the Civil War was shanghaied by slave traders and sold to a Southern plantation owner  – was a grueling experience.

Making it particularly effective was the movie’s emphasis not only on the agonies slaves endured, but on the corrosive effect of the “peculiar institution” on the attitudes and personalities of wealthy whites who owned other human beings.

Overnight, “12 Years…” became the definitive cinematic statement about American slavery.

Not that “Gone With the Wind” – either in the form of Margaret Mitchell’s novel or the 1939 Oscar-winning film – was about slavery.  In fact, to the extent to which it was possible, the issue of slavery was avoided, glossed over, and trivialized.

The film isn’t history or sociology. It’s a melodramatic page-turner about spoiled rich hellcat Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and her love/hate affair with courtly scoundrel Rhett Butler (Clark Gable).

Watching the film with an eye to how slavery is handled, I’ve concluded that Mitchell and especially the makers of the film had it both ways.


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Clark Gable, Norma Shearer in "Idiot's Delight"

Clark Gable, Norma Shearer in “Idiot’s Delight”

“Idiot’s Delight” screens at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, January 18, 2014 in the Durwood Film Vault of the Kansas City Central Library, 14W. 10th St.  Admission is free. It’s part of the year-long film sereies Hollywood’s Greatest Year, which offers movies released in 1939.

“Idiot’s Delight” is a movie whose time has come.

And gone.

Sorry to damn with faint praise a film based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, a movie that features Clark Gable’s only on-screen singing/dancing performance. But this is a classic case of a once-celebrated flick that no longer works for modern audiences.

Still, it came out in 1939 and as one of that year’s hits it’s part of our year-long film series Hollywood’s Greatest Year.

“Idiot’s Delight” is about a bunch of travelers representing different countries and political persuasions who are stranded in a posh mountaintop hotel in the Alps. War has broken out (clearly World War II, though it’s not identified as such) and the borders have been closed.


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