Thursday, April 26, 2012
(October 2005, U.S.)
In this century of computer generated images, ongoing film franchises and a ridiculous overkill of comic book super hero movies, it always impresses me when the studios decide to occassionally release a film with a story of a period of our American history. It impresses me even more when filmmakers have the balls to make the film in black and white. So, hail to thee, filmmaker George Clooney for GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK!
Before this film, I admitedly knew almost nothing about Edward R. Murrow. I knew he'd been in broadcasting and I'd occassionally heard the local New York Channel 11 advertise their news program as "winner of the Edward R. Murrow award". Honestly, that was it. I did not know of the man's history in radio journalism during World War II, his extensive involvement in television and with CBS during the 1950s. Most importantly, I did not know of his rather historic conflict with Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, particularly relating to the anti-Communist Senator's actions with the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and his attacks on accused Americans. The film focuses on the theme of media responsibility, and also addresses what occurs when the media offers a rare voice of dissent against the government. Though set in the 1950s, the theme of that dissent seemed all-the-more relevant in 2005 when George W. Bush was still sitting in the White House and our own government seemed just as mistrustful as ever during a post 9-11 world of terrorism, homeland security and what would define a "safe" person in America.
When I watch this film, though, my attention seems focussed on not-so-much the impressive and courageous man that Edward R. Murrow for standing his ground and acting on his convictions against our own homegrown evil, but rather the important and responsible role that television played in the lives of everyday Americans. During the Golden Age of television that was the 1950s, Milton Berle, Jackie Gleason and Lucille Ball may have ruled the entertainment airwaves, but it was television news (particularly CBS) that could clearly be trusted to inform and educate reasonably intelligent American citizens who wanted to hear the truth about their world. How would one possibly describe the news today without becoming truly cynical?? How many times are we going to keep turning on the news and find that the day's top story is that Lindsay Lohan got into trouble with the law AGAIN??? How many times am I going to turn on NBC news and see Chuck Scarborough continuously report the day's worst local tragedies with that same silly grin of his??? Do you see what I'm getting at? While, admitedly, CBS continues to still hold onto some of its integrity with news shows like SUNDAY MORNING and 60 MINUTES, it's become painfully clear that we live in a world where most people are just too damn impatient or too damn stupid to watch the news without some degree of entertaining fluff added to it. And unfortunately, our news media has become so irresponsible by indulging stupid American viewers with this fluff!
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK. confirms that television news and journalism was not only the more trusted and respectable media of decades past, but also makes it crucially clear of just how low in the mud our media has slowly become ever since then...all of this WITHOUT even mentioning the constant plague of singing and dancing reality shows that just won't go away! Oh, somebody please make them go away!!!
I'm proud to say that GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK., in my opinion, is one of the ten best films of the last decade.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Edward R. Murrow (regarding television): "To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck."
In the 1950s, Ed may have been right. If he were still alive to see television today, I don't think he still would have said that.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
(December 1987, U.S.)
Let me start out by saying (again) that I really miss the fame that was Barry Levinson. There was a time from the 1980s into the 1990s when he truly reigned supreme of great films on screen. Today it seems that a Barry Levinson just doesn't carry the weight it once did. One is only left with memories of what used to be. That being said, GOOD MORNING VIETNAM recalls a time during the late 1980s when films about the Vietnam war seemed to come out of every direction and included the great talents of Oliver Stone and Stanley Kubrick.
Levinson's film, in its own small but significant way, in my opinion, attempts to try and humanize the Vietnam war - I say again, humanize, from it's obvious ongoing laughs that we're treated to by the great Robin Williams' (the man speaks for himself so I won't even bother with the obvious!) portrayal of real life Armed Forces Radio Service DJ Adrian Cronauer who arrives in Saigon to boost the morale of our American soldiers in the field with his outrageous and spontaneous humor, his love for great rock and roll, and his irreverence for breaking the rules which repeatedly conflicts with some of the Army's more "stiff" members, particularly Second Lieutenant Steven Hauk (played by Bruno Kirby), the kind of man you'd NEVER want for a roomate! The great laughs are not the only element that serves to humanize the war. At this time of 1965, Vietnam is only experiencing a "conflict" rather than a full-fledged war. The cities are still (more or less) intact and its citizens are still friendly people just going about their daily business. The owner of the popular town bar is an overly-friendly type and the most (seemingly) beautiful girl in town has caught Cronauer's eye and heart.
As just your ordinary average Eric, I cannot possibly contemplate the life of a soldier during wartime. However, I do have my own thoughts and experiences regarding the great healing power of laughter and can only use my very vivid imagination to try and relate to a soldier's morale when it's boosted on a daily basis via the comedy of a great radio DJ. Do today's soldiers at war have the pleasure of being able to hear Howard Stern's antics while fighting abroad? If they do, that can only be a good thing.
GOOD MORNING VIETNAM is by far one of Robin Williams best film roles (one that doesn't involve being a doctor or a teacher, too) and this film is perhaps one of the few real funny stories about war that I've seen since Robert Altman's M.A.S.H (1970). When you watch, listen and laugh, you can't help but wonder if the real Adrian Cronauer was (or is) just as crazy on the radio as Williams portrays him to be. Frankly, if you were to see the man's picture on the web, you'd guess not. But any man who could have the last work on his superior by telling him, "You are in more dire need of a blowjob than any white man in history." (actually, Robin, I AM!) is my kinda guy!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Adrian Cronauer: "Excuse me, sir. Seeing as how the V.P. is such a V.I.P., shouldn't we keep the P.C. on the Q.T.? 'Cause if it leaks to the V.C. he could end up M.I.A., and then we'd all be put out in K.P."
Thursday, April 19, 2012
(December 2006, U.S.)
First of all, take a good long look at the movie poster for THE GOOD GERMAN.
Now take a look at this...
Can you say HOMAGE with a great big capital 'H'??
I have to give Steven Soderbergh the just credit he deserves in that he's one of the most diversified film directors of our time. From low budget independents like SEX, LIES & VIDEOTAPE (1989), to crime films like OUT OF SIGHT (1998) and OCEAN'S ELEVEN (2001), to the science fiction remake of SOLARIS (2002), it seems he's managed to create an impressive variety of stories to tell. THE GOOD GERMAN is shot in black-and-white and is designed to imitate the appearance of film noir from the 1940s, although it also includes material – such as sex scenes and profanity – that would have been prohibited by the Production Code of the time. Set in Berlin following the Allied victory over the Nazis, it begins as a murder mystery, but weaves in elements involving the American postwar employment of Nazi rocket scientists in operation. The film's title alludes to the notion of "a good German", one who ostensibly was not to blame for allowing Adolf Hitler to persecute the Jews and others, and who did not see the Holocaust as it occurred before his or her eyes. In addition, the title is an allusion to the phrase common among soldiers of the Allied Powers during the invasion of Europe after D-Day, that "The only good German is a dead German" - and the consequences of this death are the seed for all that follows in the story of the film. Thematically, it centers on the German post war guilt, and whether it is possible to survive the atrocities while being unaware of and not complicit in them.
George Clooney as Jacob Geismar, an American war correspondent, is far from Humphrey Bogart's character in CASABLANCA (1942). As a matter of fact, Jacob is hardly the tough guy at all. It can almost become irritating to watch this guy repeatedly get his ass kicked so many times, particularly by a shrimp of a soldier like the character Tobey Maguire plays. Jacob, though, serves as not only our protaganist in solving the murder mystery of this film, but his love interest for Lena Brandt (played wonderfully by Cate Blanchett), a German Jew, is also key to the story. The two of them have a history, but as irony would have it, he and the rest of the American and Russian military forces are searching in vain for her husband (presumed dead), Emil Brandt, a former SS officer and Chief Production Engineer of the V-2 rocket, which is what will clearly define the world's future in this post-war environment. Lena is a tormented character because it's very clear from the beginning that she's not only had to struggle (as a prostitute) to survive but is also running away from her wartime sins which she also considered necessary for her survival at the time. While her loyalty to her husband (who's actually alive and in hiding) is key, she's ultimately a woman who's determined to get out of Germany, with or without her husband or Jacob. Her final exit from Berlin is hardly an escape, but rather an intruiging departure from not only a war torn country, but her sins of handing over Jews to the Nazis, as well, all in the name of her survival. The final scene at the airport, with the dreary fog that can only truly be expressed and appreciated in glorious black and white, is the greatest homage to CASABLANCA I've seen on film since Woody Allen did it in PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM (1972).
Steven Soderbergh clearly (and proudly) pays great homage here to films from the Classical Hollywood studio-era. It's unfortunate, though, that most modern multiplex audiences of today have neither the patience or the appreciation to spend some time with a film such as this, which serves to remind us of not only the way films used to be (because they were BETTER!), but of the way films CAN STILL BE if they're treated just a bit more like art and not quick opening weekend grosses. While critics were generall positive with THE GOOD GERMAN, it don't think it got much of a wide release. I managed to see it on screen at The Paris Theatre in New York City, one of the few single screen theaters that remain in the city, and as it turned out, the ONLY theater that was screening the film at the time.
Here's looking at you, kids!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Lena Brandt: "I'm a Nazi myself! Did you know that? It's true! Heil Hitler!"
Jacob Geismar: "You're not a Nazi!"
Lena: "No, not a Nazi, none of us, just something to join like a sport club! How could you fuck someone for all those years and not know them?"
Jacob: "Stom it!"
Lena: "Did you ever FUCK a Nazi?"
Jacob: "Cut it out!"
Lena: "How about a Jew?"
Jacob: "Why won't you let me help you?"
Lena: "A Nazi AND a Jew both, better yet!"
Jacob: "You did nothing wrong!"
Lena: "I SURVIVED!"
Friday, April 13, 2012
(September 1990, U.S.)
"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster." From the moment Ray Liotta's character of Henry Hill says that great line, we know we're in for a rollercoaster ride of Mafia fun, Martin Scorsese-style! Even though Scorsese hadn't done a gangster film since MEAN STREETS (1973), when I first learned of GOODFELLAS, I figured I knew enough about the famed director to know what to expect as soon as I got on line to buy my ticket. I wasn't disappointed, nor was any other fan of the genre. After all, it's DeNiro, it's Pesci, it's Scorsese...it's fucking GOODFELLAS, people, and you know you love it!
Unlike Francis Ford Coppola's legendary GODFATHER trilogy, GOODFELLAS is an American crime saga that takes the viewer deep into the organization and this is, admitedly, largely due to Henry Hill's ongoing narration throughout the film. The narration, though, is not your tradional verbal entourage that you may have heard in classic film noir stories or the like. Henry is telling us a story as if we were having a deeply personal conversation with him throughout his colorful life. With phrases like, "Believe me..." and "What you have to understand...", we're being taken along on a very intimate journey through his life in the Mafia and the connections and relationships he's formed along the way.
But just why is it that we love Mafia wiseguys so damn much? Why do we love Mob movies and why were most of us glued to HBO every week to see the latest episode of THE SOPRANOS? Yes, they're flashy, they're colorful, they do whatever the fuck they want and they don't give a fuck what others think about it. Perhaps, as everyday human beings, we can only fantasize about having such a lifestyle where we have the ultimate freedom to live as we choose, take what we want and tell the world to go fuck itself. Even when these colorful, and undenyably very dangerous characters are facing great peril in their lives, it's easy to find ourselves so caught up in things that we wish the "bad guys" all the luck in the world that will get them out of it. For myself, whenever I'm watching that specific race-against-time-day in May 1980 of Henry Hill's life unfold nearly hour-by-hour, I'm actually nearly sick to my stomach with tension because I already know that something real bad is going to happen by the time the day is concluded. This is the time when Henry will finally pay his dues to not only society, but to those he's been around all his life. For this film, it's almost sad because, like it or not, we've been rooting for the "bad guy" all along.
More than any earlier film of Scorsese, GOODFELLAS is memorable for the ensemble nature of the performances of Ray Liotta, Robert DeNiro and crazy Joe Pesci. The film is beautifully cast from the leading roles to even the bit parts. How can one resist not feeling affection for the ensemble group of gangsters we're introduced to in the nightclub as Henry tells us their outrageous names that makes you feel like you're hearing names from the "Little Rascals". How many times have you found yourself saying "Get the papers, get the papers" as an homage to Johnny "Two Times"? And not to be ignored, there's also the flash in some of Scorsese's directorial choices, including wonderful freeze frames, fast-cutting and the occasional long tracking shot. None of it seems superfluous, in the least. Every crisp minute of this long, teeming Mafia film vibrates with absolute outlaw energy that is both powerful and explosive. It's simply one of the best films of Martin Scorsese's long career. In fact, I can safely say that if he'd done no other film but GOODFELLAS, RAGING BULL (1980) and TAXI DRIVER (1976), he would have been a legendary filmmaker, nonetheless.
Now here's an interesting personal story. In 1997, I was taking a class at New York University on screenwriting. During his lecture, the young professor made it a point to stress that writing a story with narration was very ill-advised and he proceeding to give us a list of bullshit reasons for such a claim. Finally, not being able to listen anymore, I felt the need to call him on his conviction and list more than several very successful film that featured narration, including MILDRED PIERCE (1945), LOLITA (1962), A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971), ANNIE HALL (1977), BLADE RUNNER (1982), FIELD OF DREAMS (1989) and FORREST GUMP (1994), just to name some. But the film I stressed more than any other to discredit the professor's point was GOODFELLAS. When I was finally finished shooting off my big mouth, I asked him, point blank, how he could make such a claim and teach it as a rule of writing. While I can't recall his exact response, I do remember that he managed to change the subject on me and suggested that we all move on. It was then and there I decided that these teachers of screenwriting didn't have a fucking clue of what they were talking about and it was the last time I ever took a screenwriting course. Yes, people, I had FOUGHT THE POWER!
Finally, there's a particular moment that takes place in the kitchen of Henry and Karen Hill that I'm afraid I'm forced to call Mr. Scorsese on due to its gross inaccuracy, and that's this - married Jewish women do NOT, under any circumstances whatsoever, EVER willingly get down on their knees to give their husband a blowjob, no matter how grateful they may be! Ask any man out there who's married to a Jewish woman and he'll tell you the same goddamn thing! It just doesn't happen (not on THIS planet, anyway!).
Despite my great love for DANCES WITH WOLVES (my wife's favorite film!), it's GOODFELLAS that I feel should have won the Oscar for best picture of 1990. It's certainly one of my top ten favorite films of that decade.
Favorite line or dialogue (you KNOW what I'm going to write, don't you??):
Henry Hill: "You're really funny. You're really funny."
Tommy DeVito: "What do you mean I'm funny?"
Henry: "It's funny, you know. It's a good story, it's funny, you're a funny guy."
Tommy: "What do you mean, you mean the way I talk? What?"
Henry: "It's just, you know. You're just funny, it's...funny, the way you tell the story and everything."
Tommy: "Funny how? What's funny about it?"
Anthony Stabile: "Tommy no, you got it all wrong."
Tommy: "Oh, oh, Anthony. He's a big boy, he knows what he said. What did ya say? Funny how?"
Henry: "Just...ya know...you're funny."
Tommy: "You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?"
Henry: "Just...you know, how you tell the story, what?"
Tommy: "No, no, I don't know, you said it. How do I know? You said I'm funny. How the fuck am I funny? What the fuck is so funny about me? Tell me! Tell me what's funny!"
Henry: "Get the fuck out of here, Tommy!"
Tommy: "Ya motherfucker! I almost had him! I almost had him! Ya stuttering prick, ya! Frankie, was he shaking? I wonder about you sometimes, Henry. You may fold under questioning."
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
(November 1977, U.S.)
Moving from the genre of the western to the genre of the romantic comedy is a rather interesting transition because my feelings for romantic comedies are not far off from that of the western in that I consider the storylines quite redundant. Really, think about most of the romantic comedies you may have seen in the past ten years or so. Young quirky guy, young quirky girl, quirky guy's best friend is very often a comic relief goofball, quirky girl's best friend is either the same female version of the comic relief goofball or a flaming homosexual. Too often these best friend sidekicks are enough to deter your attention away from the two people at the heart of the film who are destined to come together against all odds and circumstances (no matter how silly those circumstances may be).
Which brings us now to Neil Simon's THE GOODBYE GIRL, the film I would consider to be my favorite romantic comedy of all time for two very good reasons...RICHARD DREYFUSS...very funny man! Not to say that this film doesn't suffer from one or two of the cliche elements I've cited above. The characters of Elliot Garfield (Dreyfuss) and Paula McFadden (played by Marsha Mason) are definitely the quirky types, as well as Paula's daughter Lucy (played by Quinn Cummings) and Elliot's off-off-off Broadway director Mark (played by Paul Benedict of THE JEFFERSONS). Yes, it's safe to say most of the cast here is surely on the quirky side. What's important to realize here is that none of the supporting characters are meant to draw your attention away from the bickering couple on screen whom we want to see end up together despite their contempt for each other at the film's beginning. The contempt is hilarious as they are accidentally thrown together in the same New York City apartment because Paula's "love-'em-and-leave-'em'" ex-boyfriend has just left her and has also subletted the apartment to Elliot without her knowledge. From the moment Elliot moves in, we know we're in for a good time because it's Dreyfuss' never-ending, quick, snappy, spontaneous dialogue that keeps us listening the entire time. Hell, just watching him play Richard III as a flaming crippled fag (sorry...homosexual!) is worth your the two hours of your life. It's the funniest staged sequence in a film I've seen since Mel Brooks' "Springtime for Hitler" in THE PRODUCERS (1968). What's also refreshing to note here is that (despite the fact that I'm now older than both their characters were in 1977) this film is about grown-ups with grown-up issues and not a couple of young adult morons who act like they just got paroled from the Disney Channel. You see...even at the age of ten when I first saw THE GOODBYE GIRL, I enjoyed films about grown-ups and not kids.
As a modern female character (of the 1970s, anyway), Paula McFadden is an intruiging one. She's an experienced Broadway dancer and has clearly done a reasonable job of raising her ten year-old daughter (mostly) by herself. She is, however, a woman who clearly needs to be rescued and taken care of. Notice how she only tries to get her professional life back in gear after she's been badly dumped. Notice how quickly she gives up trying as soon as it appears that she'll have Elliot to take care of her (Gloria Steinem might not have approved!). In the end, though, all that Paula really wants is the promise and the reassurance of love and security (as perhaps we all do). Reassurance is a key word here because notice at the end how joyful she becomes when she realizes that all she really required was to be ASKED by her new love to come away with him to his first movie shoot. As humans, I suppose we require the knowlege that not only is love here to stay, but that it will return to us even if it goes away for a few weeks.
Recalling THE GOODBYE GIRL takes me back to a time in the decade of the 1970s when there were many film being shot on location in New York City. From DEATH WISH (1974) to KING KONG (1976) to SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER (1977) to SUPERMAN (1978), it was a time when the great island of Manhattan and it's surrounding buroughs were featured on screen in all their glory, good or bad. And despite the fact that New York City was a crime-ridden filth pit at the time, it still seemed like a truly glorious place even to me as a kid. I was a kid. What did I know?
Favorite line or dialogue:
Elliot Garfield (drunkenly reading out loud a review of his performance as Richard III): "The 'Times' writes: Elliot Garfield researched Richard the Third, and discovered him...to be England's first badly dressed INTERIOR DECORATOR!"
Friday, April 6, 2012
(December 1967, U.S.)
I've mentioned before that as a film genre I don't care for western because, in general, the storyline almost never changes. You have your small western town with good small western town folks who are threatened by violent, corrupt bandits or rustlers who need to be saved and protected by the good, law-biding stranger who's very often just passin' through town. Maybe there's a small love interest involved and there's almost always a climactic shoot-out in the end...blah, blah, blah! Perhaps redundant formulas can be claimed for just about EVERY genre of film and I'd be the first to agree with it. Westerns, however, just seems to bore me.
But with every firm rule in life, there's also the firm rule of exception. Although I probably can't name even five, there is a small group of westerns that I do enjoy, including the previously blogged BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KIN (1969) and now THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. I should point first that despite the long history of westerns that Clint Eastwood has to his movie career, this is the only one I own in my film collection. This is a stand alone spaghetti western for me that does not include the two films that preceeeded it, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965). Yes, strike me down, Eastwood fans, but that's just the way it is.
Eastwood's character, the man with no name who's only referred to as "Blondie" as far from what I would call "Good". In fact, he's a downright ruthless, scheming, double-crossing son of a bitch. Compared to the likes of murderous character like Tuco, the "Ugly" (played by Eli Wallach) and Angel Eyes, the "Bad" (played by Lee Van Cleef), I suppose "Blondie" could be considered a saint. The fact is, though, it's fucking Clint Eastwood and he's always the hero of the big screen, so we love him, good or not.
Returning to the subject of film formula, this film is one that I can safetly say stays clear of it. At its heart, it's a Civil War epic with three less-than-honorable men playing a cat-and-mouse race against each other in order to obtain a buried treasure of $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold buried in a grave at Sad Hill Cemetery. Tuco and Angel Eyes will lie, cheat, steal and kill to get their hands on it. But as western cliche will have it, it's Blondie who will untimately end up the victorious one, perhaps just by sheer luck and circumstance. To the viewer who's enjoying all of this, it hardly matters, as long as we get to see the bad guys pay for their evil ways and also get to watch the good guy ride off into the desert plains with that infamous accompanying film score by Ennio Morricone. Yes, in the end, I susppose Clint Eastwood's character is the "good". Regardless, it's actually a rather powerful moment as the film ends and we hear Tuco scream at the top of his lungs, "Hey Blondie! You know what you are? Just a dirty son of a bitch!"
Ah, yes, westerns may not do it for me so much, but I do love THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY!
Favorite line or dialogue:
One Armed Man: "I've been looking for you for eight months. Whenever I should have had a gun in my right hand, I thought of you. Now I find you in exactly the position that suits me. I had lots of time to learn to shoot with my left."
(Tuco kills him with the gun he has hidden in the foam of the bathtub)
Tuco: "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."
Monday, April 2, 2012
(December 1939, U.S.)
GONE WITH THE WIND is one of those monumental, legendary motion picture that is so universally loved, admired and praised by all of humankind, you almost feel defective as a film lover if you don't quite feel the same. Don't get me wrong. It's a great film and I always enjoy taking part in its grand splendor. It's a film I feel I always knew about, even before I saw it, through theatrical re-releases and television broadcasts in the 1970s. I didn't actually see it in its entirety until I rented two VHS tapes in the 1980s. I remember my first reaction being that of puzzlement. If you'll bear with me a moment, I'll try to explain why...
To begin with, as you are likely aware, the character of Scarlett O'Hara (played by Vivien Leigh) is quite possibly the most famous heroine in the history of cinema. Famous or not, I cannot avoid accusing her character of being downright irritating at times (a LOT of times!). How many times can you possibly listen to her whine and cry like a little girl and repeat the words "Fiddle-dee-dee!" withoug clenching your fists in annoyance?? Clark Gable's role as Rhett Butler is a tough and dashing spectacle all his own, worthy of all the praise he's ever received. However, there's a part of me that's always wanted to reach inside the screen, grab him and shout, "How can you possibly love Scarlett O'Hara?? She's a self-centered, manipulating bitch who doesn't and never will love you back! What's wrong with you???" Not to say that irrational people haven't continued to love someone who didn't love them back. Hell, I'm a victim of it myself.
And so, character flaws aside, GONE WITH THE WIND remains a spectacular epic of the Civil War period and its impact on the South. At the film's beginning, the spoiled, wealthy Southerers are naive and egotistical and more than confident that they will be victorious over the Yankees of the North. History knows the opposite to be true. By the time the war is over, the casualties and the inevitable changes in the lives of the survivors are greater than they could have imagined. Scarlett has gone through two dead husbands despite her real love for her cousin Ashley Wilkes (played by Leslie Howard) and Rhett continues to be a sucker for any attention he can get from Scarlett. Even when his time and patience seemingly pays off and Rhett and Scarlett are eventually married and have a daughter together, the entire affair is still a charade for their own individual selfish motives. Rhett, to his credit, tries hard to love Scarlett for who she is, faults and all, but in the end too much tragedy has occurred, including the death of their daughter and the death of Melanie Hamilton (played beautifully by Olivia de Havilland - she's STILL alive at the age of 95!). In a way, Scarlett is just a bit smarter than Rhett because when it finally hits her that Ashley will never truly love her the way she wants him to, she knows enough to finally give up her silly fantasies and TRY to love the man who's always loved her. By that time it's too late and Rhett no longer gives a damn!
1939 had to have been the greatest year of director Victor Flemming's life! Do realize in addition to GONE WITH THE WIND that year, he also did THE WIZARD OF OZ? If the man had never made another film in his life, his reputation would have been solidified forever, regardless.
Favorite line or dialogue (like you really have to guess?):
Scarlett O'Hara: "Rhett, Rhett...Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?"
Rhett Butler: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"
By the way, the American Film Institue (AFI) honored that famous final line of the film as the NUMBER ONE movie quote of all time. Nice!