3 on the 3rd – Gone With the Wind

December 2019 is the 80th anniversary of the classic film, Gone With the Wind. David O. Selznick’s film starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard and Olivia De Havilland is loved and loath, worshipped and parodied.

I first read Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 novel when I was 15. I borrowed a copy from our local library and stayed up late devouring it. I read the opening line, “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful,” to which my school friend, Hannah replied, “But Vivien Leigh was. I had no idea who either of them were. We agreed not watch the film until we had read the book. I then borrowed a recorded from TV VHS from a friend of mum’s and was completely enchanted.

So to celebrate this epic of Hollywood cinema and my own enduring love for the book and the film, this month’s 3 on the 3rd is a few favourite books about the movie.

Frankly My Dear: Gone With the Wind Revisited

By Molly Haskell

Published by Yale University Press, 2009

If you are already familiar with the book and the film then Frankly My Dear is great read. well-researched and insightful, it is a readable analysis of the success of both. She explores the key people involved in the production and how their different personalities worked together to make the very long book into a long, but successful production.

Haskell doesn’t shy away from discussing the difficuluties that many modern (and indeed contemporary) audiences have with the film – the romanticism of the South and portrayal of the “damned Yankees”, racial and sexual issues.

She also looks at the complex character of Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett is selfish, stubborn, ambitious and often just horrible. And yet she is passionate, resilient and determined. The conflicting sides of Scarlett’s personality mean that every generation can find something to relate to.

Haskell style is academic and intelligent, but light and easy to read. A definite must-read if you’re a fan.

Frankly My Dear is available from:

Waterstone’s: click here

Amazon.co.uk: click here

The Scarlett Letters: The Making of the Film Gone With the Wind

Edited by John Wiley, Jr.

Published by Taylor Trade Publishing 2014

In an age before mobile phones, apps and emails, people used to write letters!

Margaret Mitchell wrote hundreds of letters. The Scarlett Letters is a collection of over 360 letters and telegrams and focuses on the letters she wrote in relation to the film version of Gone With the Wind.

The letters begin in 1936 when Mitchell was still editing the proofs of the book. Her publishers, Macmillan, had sent out advanced copies to film studios in the hope that someone would be interested in optioning the film rights.

There are letters to Selznick, Kay Brown and Susan Myrick who were all intimately involved with the long process of creating the film; letters to the stars of the film including a lovely reply to a telegram from Vivien Leigh that says:

I cannot help feeling a thoroughly normal pleasure that the role of Scarlett has fallen into the hands of a girl whose photographs show her to be so charming.

There are letters to aspiring actresses who felt they should be cast in the film, viewers who critique and question the historical accuracy and a fabulous and lengthy response to The Right Rev Gerald O’Hara complaining that his name would be forever associated with that of Scarlett’s father.

This a great collection that shows the personality of Margaret Mitchell and her relationship with her only book.

You can grab a copy of The Scarlett Letters here:

Waterstone’s: click here

Amazon.co.uk: click here

On the Road to Tara: The Making of Gone With Wind

By Aljean Harmetz

Published by Harry N. Abrams, 1996

On the Road to Tara is one of my favourite books. It’s an absolutely stunning coffee table style book filled with copies of original artwork and facilimes of the pre-production of the film.

Included are storyboards, set designs, extracts from the original shooting scripts, costume designs and stills from haor and makeup designs.

There are 180 illustrations altogether, including a fold out centre spead that shows the scale of the artwork for the burning of Atlanta scenes.

This is an absolute must-have if you are GWTW fan – it’s beautiful and would make a perfect gift for the Scarlett and Rhett fans in your life.

Head to Tara here:

Amazon.co.uk: click here