With the weather cooling down it’s the perfect time of year to stay in and snuggle up with a good movie. I was planning my weekend movie watching list when I remembered it’s been a long while since I’ve seen my favorite movie, “Gone with the Wind”. This year, the movie celebrated its 80th anniversary. My first time seeing the movie was during my high school American history class. The run time of the film is three hours and 58 minutes, so as you could imagine it took quite a few class periods to finish. The movie touched on a number of topics dealing with American history. The movie gave a peek into the lives of just how much slavery impacted the south along with a look at the South during the reconstruction era.
I loved the dramatics and determination Scarlett O’Hara had to survive. I gushed over the costumes, scenery and overall opulence throughout the movie. Although very self-absorbed, Scarlett was resilient. She was determined to rebuild during the reconstruction era after the civil war. When she could not afford a new dress, she made one out of drapes. When life would knock her down, she made sure to pout and cry about it, but she prevailed.
The historical lesson is direct in the movie. But behind the scenes there were even more lessons to be learned. Actors and actresses endured racial injustice and unfair pay. Hattie McDaniel, the actress who played Mammy, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars for her role the film. Although her awards and accolades should qualify her as a part of Hollywood’s elite, she was not. Hattie along with other black actors where not authorized to attend the films premiere. Upon Hattie’s death she requested for her final resting place to be at Hollywood Memorial Park. This was the go-to cemetery for any one in Hollywood who has made their mark. Her last wish was denied because the cemetery was segregated.
Another lesson to be learned was women not being paid fairly. Vivien Leigh, the actress who played Scarlett O’Hara, worked 125 days on set and received $25,000. While Clark Gable, who played Rhett Butler, only worked 71 and earned $120,000. A huge pay discrepancy. I can’t say that I recall a lot of my classroom lessons, but this is one that has stuck with me throughout the years. “Gone with the Wind” certainly has had a lasting effect on pop culture and a great classic movie to watch during a chilly evening.