WASHINGTON, August 29, 2017 — The author was concerned about an epic scene in the screenplay based on her popular 1936 novel:
“The fire scene in the motion picture is NOT the ‘burning of Atlanta,’” wrote a concerned Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone with the Wind,” to filmmaker David O. Selznick. “The event pictured in the film occurred on September 1, 1864, when the Confederate troops evacuated Atlanta and set fire to certain buildings containing war materials to prevent them from falling into Union hands.”
She worried the scene would imply “they burned their own city… Southerners are very touchy on this point… that Southerners burned up their own homes and cities.”
She reminded Selznick it was troops under the command of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman that burned Atlanta before leaving the city, with his army torching its way to Savannah.
That famous movie scene, with Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) whipping his skittish horse until it pulls his wagon through Atlanta’s bright orange conflagration – a panicked Katie Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) nearby – was fueled by movie sets belonging to the classic 1933 film “King Kong.”
Burning the past – cities, and props – is nothing new to America.
Fearing a visit from the hooded night-riders of the alt-left, a.k.a. Antifa – currently engaged in an all-out war with statues of Confederate generals and bashing the skulls of peaceful free-speech marchers – inspired the management at Nashville’s Orpheum theater to cancel its annual showing of “Gone with the Wind,” a title which has graced the theater’s marquee every year for more than thirty years.
Theater group president Brett Batterson told the Associated Press, “The Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population.”
It’s worth noting that African-American actress Hattie McDaniel won the 1939 Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, edging out co-star Olivia de Havilland, Geraldine Fitzgerald (“Wuthering Heights”), Edna May Oliver (“Drums Along the Mohawk”) and Maria Ouspenskaya (“Love Affair”).
When McDaniel died of breast cancer in 1952, she bequeathed her Oscar statuette to historically black Howard University. But in the campus turmoil of the 1960s, McDaniel’s Oscar vanished.
Some speculate the award was tossed into the Potomac River by black radicals angered at McDaniel’s film portrayals of domestic servants. Still, others say an equally dismissive university administration hid the award from public view, stuffing it into a secret archive.
When the head of California’s Ku Klux Klan heard Margaret Mitchell’s book was being made into a film, he offered David O. Selznick his services as well as a thinly veiled threat:
“As Grand Dragon and King Kleagle of the Realm of California (State Head), and as having been an officer in the Klan since 1923, I believe I may be of material assistance to you, as Production Manager, and to Selznick International Pictures in assisting as technical advisor, as regards signs, symbols and actions of characters in Klan regalia.”
He then added,
“All seemed to agree that if the Klan part of the picture were distorted or deleted the South would be insulted and that millions of Klanspeople would consider it a personal affront.”
Selznick deleted the novel’s sympathetic Klan scenes from the film anyway.
But unlike the voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1939, the stilted and doctrinaire 60s college radicals and today’s violent alt-left were and remain incapable of recognizing the talent or humanity of Hattie McDaniel; or, for that matter, anyone with talents that stretch beyond one’s ability to raise a clenched fist in mindless salute or to bring it down as a bludgeon.
Frankly, my dears, it’s because they don’t give a damn.