It was 70 years ago today that Gone with the Wind debuted in a star-studded premiere at the Loew’s Grand Theater in Atlanta, Georgia.
The picture’s most famous line has long left us scratching our heads. The legend is that Clark Gable (in the guise of Rhett Butler) intoning the words, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” set off a firestorm of controversy.
And maybe it did; we’re in no place to deny it (we weren’t around at the time).
But as any self-respecting cineaste can tell you, there were dozens of pre-code movies that featured imagery, plotting, dialogue, and attitudes far more shocking than Gable’s mildly profane utterance. And given that Gone with the Wind was released in 1939, just five short years after the Production Code clampdown, surely the press and the movie-going public hadn’t so soon forgotten the saltier offerings of the early Thirties.
We don’t have the answer to this conundrum, but as we said, we’ve been scratching our heads over it for some time.
In any case, here’s wishing that venerable old tale of Tara a happy 70th. It’s a spectacular, if undeniably flawed, piece of work that still entertains, engages, and frustrates all these decades later.