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Gone With The Wind


john36251
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I recently viewed a "between the movie" discussion about Mrs Hattie McDaniel and the movie classic "Gone With The Wind". The two black men giving the discussion about Mrs Hattie and her thoughts and feelings during this part of her life brought up a good discussion point. Life in 1935 was very different from now. In one sense Mrs McDaniel was very fortunate to be in a situation to wind up with a part in ANY movie, much less Gone With The Wind. In another sense,she probably had to take a lot of discriminatory attitudes from people. I agree with the two men and their general synopsys of that day and time but I tend to give Mrs McDaniel more credit for her true acting ability. I have seen her in many movies and I think her acting ability speaks for itself. I feel that many of her roles were cast "In spite of " her color and not "Because" of her being black, african american, etc. I feel that racism was very bad back then and too a lesser degree today. I feel that you can see racism in the two black gentlemen doing the TCM show. They handle it superbly but they show a sense of repressed anger that they themselves need to let go of. I "ANY" man goes out into the world "Looking" to find fault in another he "WILL" find it. We have all sinned and fallen short. If you take God out of society you have no measuring stick. Your ATTITUDE means everything, I learned that in Sunday School. These two young men need too also

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One of her best dramatic roles was in "In This Our Life", in which she played the mother of a young man who had been falsely accused of a car hit and run in which a man was killed. She was so good, I would have liked to have seen her in many other dramatic roles.

 

She had everyone in the audience crying in that dramatic part in Gone With the Wind, as she was crying while she walked up the stairs with Olivia de Havilland after Bonnie died.

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One of "THE" best books I read on the life of "Hattie McDaniel" was: "Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood" by by Jill Watts! An absolute read for anyone intrested in Hollywood & how actors of differnt race/color were treated in the Golden Age of Hollywood! Very interesting book! The bio is well-written, even-handed biography not only tells you about Miss McDaniel, but also about where she came from and how she came to be the woman she was. CHECK IT OUT!

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She was a great talent, that went untapped. Hattie received much of her training in vaudeville. I was surprised, she was quite a singer. I saw an old TV clip taped shortly before she died. She got up on stage and sang 'Some Of These Days.' It blew me away. Sophie Tucker couldn't hold a candle. When the song ended, tears were streaming down my face. What a waste.

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I can't imagine what Ms. McDaniel endured in the Hollywood of that era. Today's African-American actors should realize whose shoulders they stand on. Many. Many shoulders. She was as fine a character actor as any from that golden era of Hollywood. And besides, she was the only Academy Award-winning actress...to have appeared in an "Our Gang" comedy. No one else can lay claim to that; not Davis or Crawford or Sondergaard or Celeste Holm or Astor or...

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There can be no denying she was type-cast. Then again,so were many,back in those days. Glenda Farrell,Joan Blondell,Boris Karloff....etc. Unfortunately for her, her "type" was race driven. While it may not be PC now,back then it "was what it was". By all accounts I've seen, she was an amazing performer,and a very classy lady. She was held in very high esteem by her contemporaries,both socially and professionally.

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OK....I'll bite. She did the best under her circumstances....which were not very good.

Because there was obvious racism in "The Golden Age of Hollywood", an era held in such reverence by some,one would almost believe there was no need for toilet paper at MGM,as everyone could crap perfectly. A clean break, EVERY TIME. LOL.

Sooooo, despite the incredible idealism promoted by the studio era, there was this overtly racist attitude regarding blacks, just for starters. Most were portrayed in broad stereotypes,rarely coming off looking too good. In order to enjoy films of the studio era,one must just ACCEPT that that is the way much of white America viewed blacks. Hattie McDaniel did what she could with what she was given.

Often enough,her performances were nuanced enough to "peek through" the ridiculous stereotypes.

Sometimes the writing buried any hope of that.

In any case,while it appears ugly today, thats not the way they saw it then. If you want to enjoy Ms. McDaniels talent,you have to accept the societal imperfections of the day.

Can't have it halfway......"it was what it was".....past tense of "it is what it is"

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I am sick to death of that clip. Why can't people just watch the darn movie and enjoy it for the story Margaret Mitchell told? What if people had to have all that angst when watching movies with the main characters being Romans and bit or character actors being slaves? Nobody could watch anything and enjoy it if they had to apply modern political standards to it. Does everything have to have a socio-political aspect?

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Thank you kind 'Teeeeeeze. You understand what I meant when I say I accept it was what it was. No need to pull the wings off a fly.

 

And I enjoy "Gone With the Wind." Some aspects a little cringing for me, but it's one of the greatest films ever made. Go on Cinesage...be predictable; shoot down that statement too.

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i for one am sick of the constant airing -- or so it seems -- by tcm of this particular promo. it was interesting the first time i saw it, but they seem to be showing it between every feature. enough already! i think it's beginning to create a backlash and have the opposite effect than what was intended. has tcm succumbed to the pc police? what's next, pulling 'song of the south' from distribution, or "editing" 'holiday inn' and 'blazing saddles?' how about changing the dog's name in 'the dam busters' to "trigger?" oops. too late.

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INTERSTING FACTS ABOUT GWTW:

 

Vincent Price tested for the part of Ashley.

 

Margaret Mitchell's first choice to play Rhett Butler was Basil Rathbone

 

Lillian Gish had originally been approached to take on the part of Scarlett's mother.

 

Judy Garland was the leading contender for the role of Carreen O'Hara before her "Andy Hardy" co-star Ann Rutherford was cast, but she was tied up with commitments to another film directed by Victor Fleming: "The Wizard of Oz " (1939).

Ironically, Fleming would replace George Cukor on both "Oz" and "Wind"

 

Priscilla Lane was considered for the role of Melanie Wilkes

 

Billie Burke was considered for Aunt Pittypat Hamilton, but the producers thought she was too young (she was 54).

 

Hattie McDaniel was cast as Mammy after Louise Beavers, Etta McDaniel, Ruby Dandridge, and Hattie Noel were briefly considered.

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"btw, i'll take ms. mcdaniel as a survivor and overall class act over "the rock" and that other "embarassed" guy any day of the week.

 

I'm with you on that score, Georgia. Everyone knows that this film was done during another era so looking at it with 21st century eyes...or even eyes of forty years after the fact doesn't help change things. It's like being in class and hearing kids saying: "if I were back in the slavery days, I'd have killed the master." Nah, you wouldn't. You'd have kept picking cotton & hoping they didn't beat you & sell your mom. Hindsight is twenty-twenty vision.

 

I've always liked the line when Oscar Polk says "we's house workers." To me, it is some small acknowledgment of Mitchell's. See, everybody wasn't trained to do everything and that works against things...working. In the 50's maids & butlers were "allowed" to speak standard English in films; (watch "Written on the Wind"). I still say if it weren't for the McDaniels, McQueens, Fetchits...we don't know where actors like Charles Dutton would be today. (PS, what's he done of note lately?)

 

Is my logic off? Maybe. But I can see the real story within the epic of "GWTW." All I can see is Rhett on the bridge begging Scarlett to kiss him. "Once." All I can see is what happens when we chase a person that doesn't want us. All I can see is a girl who loves a man she'll never have. And a man who loves a girl he'll never have.

 

Hell I love "Gone With the Wind." So report me to the NAACP.

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To his credit, David Selznick met with the black actors cast in the film, sounding them out as to what they found offensive in the script, and made what changes he could to address their concerns.

 

As for

 

I've always liked the line when Oscar Polk says "we's house workers." To me, it is some small acknowledgment of Mitchell's. See, everybody wasn't trained to do everything and that works against things...working. In the 50's maids & butlers were "allowed" to speak standard English in films; (watch"Written on the Wind"). I still say if it weren't for the McDaniels, McQueens, Fetchits...we don't know where actors like Charles Dutton would be today.(PS, what's he done of note lately?)

 

Rough field hands like Big Sam weren't about to be drafted for duties in the Main House any more than the O'Haras would allow the "houseworkers" who'd been instructed in the finer points of dealing with the family to be "spoiled" by toiling in those chores in which blacks were treated as draft animals (albeit ones who could follow spoken commands and had opposable thumbs with which to grasp tools).

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The Selznick story does sound familiar...thanks for bringing that up.

 

As for the "house workers" line (and we know 'workers' was a genteel way of saying something else) him being trained to do just house work works against Scarlett getting done what needed to be done at that moment.

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McDaniel's staircase scene, which almost certainly won her the Oscar, was done in a continuous take. I don't think there was a break from the time de Havilland entered the house until the two women reached the top of the stairs.

 

The "we's house workers" line seems poorly dubbed. A friend told me once that the n-word was originally used instead of "workers," but I don't know if he meant in the book or in an early cut of the film. Surely he meant the book. The line, if it is dubbed in, could have been dubbed for any number of reasons.

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IIRC, saying the "n-word" was against the Production Code rules anyway, and Selznick had already gotten an exception so that Rhett could say "damn" at the end.

 

Anyhow, GWTW, wasn't about the ethics of slavery, it was a sweeping romantic epic during the time of the Civil War, and that war, inasmuch as it affected the main characters. Margaret Mitchell had every right to tell her story the way that she envisioned it without having to, as if she were creating art for the state as in the Soviet Union, make it politically correct, and add extraneous things, when that wasn't any part of the story she wanted to tell.

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john36251--Welcome to the boards. I hope you stick around. I enjoyed your thoughtful post, which seemed to be more concerned with Hattie McDaniel than with GONE WITH THE WIND. Hattie McDaniel was a great, great talent. I wish we could have seen her in a wide variety of roles, but it's a delight and an honor to see her in any movie. I'd like to see more of a celebration of her life and work.

 

This thread twisted at some point, to become defensive of GONE WITH THE WIND and to take a bigger jab at the gentlemen in the promo clip. GONE WITH THE WIND is a beautifully put together movie, a fine work of art. It's also deeply racist, a reflection of racism in America. Margaret Mitchell wrote a romantic and racist historical fiction dealing with our own country's past sins, not ancient Rome's. If this is simply a story of a love affair, why show any historical context at all? Why go to the trouble of depicting the scenes with supposedly rapacious "carpetbaggers" and black freedmen and "white trash", or the organized vigilantes (hmmm, Klansmen?) who terrorize the shanty-dwellers, etc? GONE WITH THE WIND includes all that and much more because it's central to the story as told from a certain bitter, defeated white Southern viewpoint. There's the blatant text, then layers of sub-text in both the novel and the movie. Any artifact of pop culture as huge as GONE WITH THE WIND invites this scrutiny.

 

The movie is more than three hours long, isn't it? The clip in question lasts a couple minutes. I thought people wanted GWTW put into the proper frame, to demonstrate how enlightened people are nowadays, to learn something from the complicated past, to teach the kids. If so, then where's the tolerance for a short explanation of racial stereotyping, for a different sort of analysis?

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How is the movie racist? GWTW shows the historical reality of the times-how could she have written that differently? And the historical context is there only inasmuch as it affects the story of the main characters-the story of Rhett and Scarlett, and Ashley and Melanie--what should she have changed in the interests of sensitivity? MM didn't write a story dealing with our past sins, she wrote a historical epic and a love story-the point of view was that of the main characters.

 

If someone wants the "rest of the story" told (ie, a different story than that of MM), they are surely welcome to write it, and if it's good, and original and creative enough, it may become a best-seller and be made into an iconic movie. But that wasn't the story that MM or GWTW was trying to tell. Why is she obliged to tell a story that wasn't the one in her heart and mind? No one is stopping someone else, if they have the talent and originality, from telling their own story, if they have one.

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It wasn't just Hollywood that was racist, it was our society as a whole. People just didn't think twice about it back then, just like many people today don't think twice about shows and movies depicting Mexicans and dumb blondes and flamboyant gay men and so on, not to mention depictions of Blacks as ghetto-dwelling, baby-making, drug-dealing parasites. And is there ever a movie or TV show where rich kids are nice??? Racism, sexism and lots of other -isms are alive and well today too, which, given that we're supposed to be so much more enlightened than our grandparents (parents?) generation, is just plain sad.

 

Ms McDaniel herself knew it and accepted it and was very practical about it. Wasn't she the one who said,"I'd rather make $700 a week playing a maid than earn $7 a day being a maid!" ? And the rest of the black actors of the time probably felt much the same way.

 

GWTW isn't about slavery, really. It's about the turbulence and chaos that accompanies major change. And it's a love story as well. Mustn't forget that. LOL

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Tracey, Cascabel, Primadonna...very well written. I think hindsight is 20-20 vision with some folks. That McDaniel was able to flourish in a career during that time period is amazing and wonderful. I also think producers actively sought her out for what she'd bring to a role that was constricted by what the era would allow her to play. Just think...it was inconceivable for her to play a clerk or a secretary or a nurse or a girl reporter or a saleswoman or just any ol' nondescript character.

 

I remember the initial post that got us all started in this thread's discussion. I love "Gone With The Wind." Gable's Rhett Butler pays McDaniel's Mammy a great compliment...he says (and I paraphrase) hers is the respect he most wants to have. I'm a Black woman...and I applaud Hattie McDaniel's performance and perseverance and I don't do it grudgingly as those gentlemen did on the TCM short. Those were the times. Mitchell wrote a masterpiece and I think Hattie McDaniel handled herself admirably.

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