Who better to take a fresh look at Scarlett O’Hara than the author of a book titled From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies? Molly Haskell made her name with that 1973 work, a watershed chronicle of female images through Hollywood history. In her new book Frankly My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited, Haskell has turned her lively analytical style to Margaret Mitchell’s tempestuous heroine, both in her literary and cinematic incarnations.
You may think Gone with the Wind represents well-trod ground, particularly in the oft-repeated stories about the production of David O. Selznick’s massive movie adaptation. And Haskell does recap some of these tales, including Selznick’s search for an actress to play Scarlett, and his famous (perhaps mythic) meeting with Vivien Leigh, who finally nabbed the part, with a burning backlot Atlanta as their backdrop. But she brings real insight to her portraits of Mitchell, who identified with both Scarlett’s independence and the more traditionally ladylike virtues of GWTW’s secondary heroine, Melanie Wilkes; of Selznick, who emerges as a more sensitive figure than is usually depicted; and of Leigh, whose force of will matched her character’s, until she was no longer able to keep physical and mental illnesses at bay.
Come hear Molly Haskell discuss all this and take your questions at the Riverside Branch on Thursday, May 7 at 6:00pm, as part of LPA Cinema Series’ Meet the Scholars programs. Admission is free and there will be a film clip or two to refresh our memories, even though there is hardly a more iconic movie than Gone with the Wind. As a matter of fact, Yale University Press published Frankly My Dear under its Icons of America series rubric.
Another Meet the Scholars program will be presented on Thursday, May 14 at 6:00pm, when author Richard Koszarski will discuss his book Hollywood on the Hudson, a survey of film production in the Big Apple between the two World Wars. Show up at the Riverside Branch to find out how an industry that was born on the East Coast kept trying to go home again even after definitively relocating to sunnier climes.