This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

"May I Put My Hand In Your Pocket?..."

I must've been five years old the first time I saw Gone With The Wind. On TV. Even on the small screen I was swept off my feet by the epic story, the cinematography, and the spirited charms of both Scarlett O'Hara (Viven Leigh) and Rhett Butler (Clark Gable.)

Since then, I've seen the film countless times. I have an original paperback copy of the novel from 1939, sealed in a plastic bag. I've unconsciously memorized entire passages from the film--purely from seeing it so, so many times over the years.

But it was only three days ago, seventy years after its release, that I finally had the opportunity to see the film in its full glory-- in 35mm, on the big screen, with a sold-out audience. I saw the film Monday night in the William Goldwyn Theatre at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, CA.

The evening began with newsreels from the year 1939 and a Buck Rogers serial. Following that, the audience was given a rare opportunity to hear anecdotes from several of the remaining cast members, including Cammie King (Bonnie Blue Butler), Ann Rutherford (Carreen O'Hara), and Mickey Kuhn (Beau Wilkes). Even a firefighter who had been on-set during the historic "burning of Atlanta" sequence was in the audience. Moments before the curtains parted, Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Hamilton) offered a greeting recorded earlier in the day from her home in Paris. Then, we were off... to the the land of Tara...

On the big screen, bookmarked by large Oscar statuettes, Scarlett's world was an altogether new place. It was as fresh as the first time I'd ever seen it, yet more true, more real, more vibrant. On the big screen, I noticed things I'd never seen before... like parrots. I in two different scenes that I never recall seeing before. At the Atlanta bazaar, I was able to read a sign in the background: "Buy a hanky. Beat a Yankee." In the jailhouse scene, I could see the callouses on Scarlett's hands at the same time Rhett notices them. So much of the GWTW experience and so many details had escaped me by seeing the film on TV and VHS-- the only way I'd been able to see it up until now. I relished sharing the film with fellow audience members and cast members in attendance who were watching along with us.

During intermission, I had the opportunity to meet Ann Rutherford (Carreen O'Hara,) seated two rows behind me. I never thought I'd ever be in the position to meet anyone directly involved in the film, yet here I was, in Beverly Hills CA (at the Academy, no less) meeting Ms. Rutherford herself-- seventy years after her appearance in one of my favorite films. Ms. Rutherford is delightful-- one of the most spirited women I've ever met. I looked into her face and saw the glow that she still has after all these years. As I grow older, I want to keep ahold of that spirit within myself. So many of us lose it, over time. Ms. Rutherford says Gone With The Wind was one of the best things that ever happened to her-- as it's made her "golden years... platinum."
It's also one of the best things that's happened to me and to many people around the world.

It's a testament to the film's power that so many of us in the U.S. and around the world can become connected by our mutual affinity for such a classic film. Although many of the original cast members are no longer with us, in Gone With The Wind they vibrantly live on. For those cast members left, their GWTW experience seventy years ago is now 'no more than a dream remembered...' but oh what a glorious dream it must've been!

**I'd like to thank the Academy for offering this superb event-- especially for younger generations like me, who have very little opportunity to see classics like this on the big screen-- as they were intended to be seen.**


Copyright 2009 by KLiedle

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