Synopses & Reviews
How and why has the saga of Scarlett Oand#8217;Hara kept such a tenacious hold on our national imagination for almost three-quarters of a century? In the first book ever to deal simultaneously with Margaret Mitchelland#8217;s beloved novel and David Selznickand#8217;s spectacular film version of Gone with the Wind
, film critic Molly Haskell seeks the answers. By all industry predictions, the film should never have worked. What makes it work so amazingly well are the fascinating and uncompromising personalities that Haskell dissects here: Margaret Mitchell, David Selznick, and Vivien Leigh. As a feminist and onetime Southern adolescent, Haskell understands how the story takes on different shades of meaning according to the age and eye of the beholder. She explores how it has kept its edge because of Margaret Mitchelland#8217;s (and our) ambivalence about Scarlett and because of the complex racial and sexual attitudes embedded in a story that at one time or another has offended almost everyone.
Haskell imaginatively weaves together disparate strands, conducting her story as her own inner debate between enchantment and disenchantment. Sensitive to the ways in which history and cinema intersect, she reminds us why these characters, so riveting to Depression audiences, continue to fascinate 70 years later.
"In time for the 70th anniversary of the film version, author and movie critic Haskell (Holding My Own in No Man's Land) brings a scholar's rigor to her loving history of our 'American Bible,' Gone With the Wind. Vivid profiles of author Margaret Mitchell, starlet Vivien Leigh, and film producer David Selznick re-humanize the work, now known more for its epic grandeur, iconic moments and controversial politics. Haskell draws thoughtful parallels between Mitchell and her protagonist, Scarlett O'Hara, and her affection for these women drives a narrative that gets occasionally bogged down in film production minutiae. Haskell falters while trying to defend Mitchell's dialog and gender politics, even going so far as to imply that she understands Mitchell and O'Hara in a way that other critics do not (Roger Ebert, for instance). Haskell also highlights the impact of the film on popular culture, but doesn't bring anything new to the discussion of America's fascination. Though perhaps too finely focused for casual readers, this sincere, detailed celebration should interest long-time fans and students." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Molly Haskell is a writer and film critic. She has lectured widely on the role of women in film and is the author of From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies. She lives in New York City.