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Frankly, My Dear: "Gone with the Wind" Revisited (Icons of America) Hardcover – February 24, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In time for the 70th anniversary of the film version, author and movie critic Haskell (Holding My Own in No Man's Land) brings a scholar's rigor to her loving history of our "American Bible," Gone With the Wind. Vivid profiles of author Margaret Mitchell, starlet Vivien Leigh, and film producer David Selznick re-humanize the work, now known more for its epic grandeur, iconic moments and controversial politics. Haskell draws thoughtful parallels between Mitchell and her protagonist, Scarlett O'Hara, and her affection for these women drives a narrative that gets occasionally bogged down in film production minutiae. Haskell falters while trying to defend Mitchell's dialog and gender politics, even going so far as to imply that she understands Mitchell and O'Hara in a way that other critics do not (Roger Ebert, for instance). Haskell also highlights the impact of the film on popular culture, but doesn't bring anything new to the discussion of America's fascination. Though perhaps too finely focused for casual readers, this sincere, detailed celebration should interest long-time fans and students.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hasn’t everything worth saying about Gone with the Wind been said? Maybe, but how about another book, anyway, one that gathers the pith of what worthwhile has been said and makes it all freshly interesting? That’s what Haskell gives us, too hastily worded in spots but with thoughtful animation throughout. She keeps both novel and movie at hand, moving from one to the other, comparing and distinguishing what Margaret Mitchell expresses from what obsessive producer David O. Selznick, directors George Cukor and Victor Fleming, screenplaywrights Sidney Howard and a host of fixers (including Ben Hecht and Scott Fitzgerald), and actors Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Hattie McDaniel, and others convey. She emphasizes the contributions of Selznick, Leigh, and in an entire chapter, Mitchell, drawing heavily and analytically on existing biographies, the literature of women and the Civil War, Civil War films (especially Birth of a Nation and Jezebel), and film criticism to such engaging effect as to not just revisit GWTW but to revive and intensify the enduring fascination of what Selznick dubbed “the American Bible.” --Ray Olson
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Product Details

  • Series: Icons of America
  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1st edition (February 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300117523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300117523
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,676,086 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patricia V. Blitzer on March 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Molly Haskell is a genius. With scholarship and enormous wit, she shows us why GWTW means so much to us as individuals and to our culture. Every page of FRANKLY, MY DEAR informs and resonates. GWTW is seared into the American psyche more deeply than CITIZEN KANE, ON THE WATERFRONT, THE GODFATHER rolled into one. Molly Haskell inhabits GWTW. I think of her now as Molly O'Haskell. This is a must-read.
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Format: Hardcover
Ever since the author published her memoir of her marriage, "Love and Other Infectious Diseases" (1990), I have loved her writing. Now she has taken on the late 1930's with her cultural review and history of the book/movie, "Gone With the Wind". The "Titantic" of its day was a best-seller and Oscar winner. She argues that Scarlett was a feminist hero for her day, the Depression and pre-World War II era. You may not agree with her insights but the reader will be entertained by them.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
(My Kindle version is damaged. It clips off several characters on the right-hand side of each pages when I try to read this on my laptop Kindle cloud player. I'm guessing this is a bug up in the cloud. But it costs the review one star.)

Now, this is not really a "movie" book, and that's fine, because we don't need a another Flesh & Fantasy film tome, or another picture book about GWTW. Rather it's a popular-but-serious social history of the past century or so, parsed through the prism of the film in question. Molly Haskell's peculiar insight into these matters derives from being a film and cultural critic, as well as a Southerner (Virginia and North Carolina) by birth and upbringing. Moreover she is descended from top-drawer ante-bellum aristocracy, literally the people who populate Mary Chesnut's Diary and are sometimes even referenced in the GWTW script.

The first part of the book is a quick recap of the filmic phenomenon that is GWTW, how the book was quickly snapped up by Hollywood almost before it became a tremendous bestseller, and of course the familiar tale of how David O. Selznick searched for his perfect Scarlett O'Hara, until one night they were filming the burning of Atlanta, and Selznick's brother, agent Myron, walked up to him and presented him with Vivien Leigh.

Intertwined with this is Haskell's meditation on the character of Scarlett herself. Apparently she identified with her very closely when growing up, and this was not unusual among girls in Richmond. There was a tomboyish toughness in that identification, a rejection of conventional female restriction and passivity.
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Format: Paperback
If you are an obsessive GWTW fan like me, who likes re-reading the book and re-watching the movie million of times, who likes talking about GWTW, reading about GWTW and reading about other people talking about GWTW, this book is for you.

"Frankly, My Dear" is a very entertaining, easy to read book, which has a lot of curious facts about both the novel and the movie. I personally enjoyed stories about Margaret Mitchell and her very strange relationships with her two husbands; about manic-depressive Vivien Leigh and her turbulent affair with Lawrence Olivier; about Clarke Gable who refused to cry on screen because of the fear to appear weak to the public, etc.

At the same time, this work is rather superficial and lacks structure and depth of knowledge of the subject. It is roughly divided into several parts addressing the story of creating the book, the difficulties of making the movie. It also attempts to explain why the story has been able to capture hearts of so many millions of readers (not very well unfortunately).

You will not find any deep analysis of GWTW or a decent comparison of the movie and the book. "Frankly, My Dear" is just a bunch of anecdotes thrown together to provide some light entertainment for the fans. It is not necessarily a bad thing. The book gives just enough basic information to spark interest in the subject and to guide fans curious to know more to the better researched sources. As for me, after reading this book I am determined to learn more about both Margaret Mitchell and Vivien Leigh. I think they both are extremely interesting women to know.
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Format: Hardcover
Molly Haskell takes a fresh look at the whole GWTW oeuvre: the book, the movie, and the people behind both. She mixes a feminist perspective with fun facts and trivia, and comes out with a winning take. She makes a great point regarding why young women (especially) discover GWTW and why it speaks to them so strongly. After watching GWTW when I was 16, I remember thinking that the main characters were remarkably relatable, and Haskell explains why that is. Haskell is scholarly without being dull, enthusiastic about GWTW without being blind to its faults, and thoroughly interesting and entertaining. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone who loves "Gone With The Wind" this is the book to read. Against all odds, Molly Haskell has taken a film classic set in amber and raised questions that are not merely fresh but also provocative. At the same time, she brings to the film's seventieth anniversary a voice that is at once personal, clearsighted, and wonderfully exhilarating. Like the movie itself, this book arrives on the scene already assured of its place in film history. In addition it is a pure delight.
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