Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited by Molly Haskell is now available at Amazon.com! Below is the press release sent to me by the publisher. To purchase, click on the link below:
Frankly, My Dear: “Gone with the Wind” Revisited (Icons of America)
A provocative exploration of the book, the movie, and the author of one of the most captivating stories ever told.
Seventy years ago, David Selznick’s spectacular film Gone with the Wind, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell, premiered in Atlanta. War was about to break out, and most of America was still in the grip of the Great Depression. But the film grossed over $1.3 billion in domestic revenues, making it the biggest blockbuster before or since; 202 million tickets were sold, at a time when the U.S. population was only 130 million. Mitchell had written Gone with the Wind in the 1920s, out of her Jazz Age impulses and experience. But when it was published in 1936, readers (and subsequently movie audiences) took it for a Depression fable. Mitchell herself was astonished that people in the midst of poverty would pay an astronomical $3.00 for the book (the price her publishers felt they had to charge for the 1,000-page tome). But buy it they did. Gone with the Wind has sold 30 million copies, making it one of best-selling books of all time—second only to the Bible, according to most sources.
Both novel and film are still going strong, almost three-quarters of a century later. Why has the saga of Scarlett O’Hara had such a tenacious hold on our national imagination? Molly Haskell explores the compelling answers in Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited (Yale University Press; publication date February 24, 2009; $24), the first book to deal simultaneously with the book and the movie, and the uncanny symbiosis of Margaret Mitchell, David Selznick, and Vivien Leigh. As a one-time Southern belle, a contemporary feminist, and a celebrated film critic, Haskell is the perfect writer for looking again at the phenomenon that is GWTW (initials recognized worldwide) and the part it has played in our lives—personal, political, and social
By all industry predictions, the film should never have worked. What did make it work, Haskell says, were the fire and desperation of Mitchell, Selznick, and Leigh, with their strangely overlapping tastes and eccentricities. Haskell also understands how the story takes on different shades of meaning according to the age and eye of the beholder. She explores how it has kept its edge because of Mitchell’s (and our) ambivalence about Scarlett and because of the complex racial and sexual attitudes embedded in a story that at one time or another has offended almost everyone.
Morally repugnant in some ways and heroic in others, Scarlett is an unusual heroine; her outrages against ladylike behavior and Christian ethics still seem as fresh and disturbing as they did at the time. She gets away with more, in terms of miscreant behavior and audience forgiveness, than she has any right to, and more than any other Hollywood heroine ever did. She’s redeemed (for some, not all) by her courage, her tenacity, her ability to survive in terrible times.
The time is ripe for a reappraisal of the book and the movie, Haskell says. There’s a relaxing of the grip of political correctness and a freedom of conversation we didn’t have before. In the 1970s and 1980s, we could only cringe at the stereotypes of Mammy, Pork, and Prissy. But with so many concrete signs of racial progress in the last two decades, culminating in the election of Barack Obama, we can look with more detachment at a film that marked an advance over the typical treatment of blacks at the time. The same applies to the feminist critique of the movie. When sensitivity to the issue of violence against women was at its height, most deplored the famous marital “rape” scene, when Rhett ravishes Scarlett. But we can now step back and appreciate the fantasy aspect of it, the complexity of women’s desires.
Haskell imaginatively weaves together disparate strands, conducting her story as her own inner debate between enchantment and disenchantment. Sensitive to the ways in which history and cinema intersect, she reminds us why these characters, so riveting to Depression audiences, continue to fascinate us today.
More Advance Praise for Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited
“This is a beautifully written and well-detailed account of the making of a movie that has, by now, become an American treasure, a landmark in popular entertainment. And it’s written by a real Southerner, who happens to be one of the best writers on film we have.” – Martin Scorsese
“An absolutely marvelous work – provocative, perceptive, richly informative, and written with a contagious passion. Molly Haskell has given all of us who are in thrall to Gone with the Wind countless fresh insights, not only about its characters and the era in which they lived, but also about ourselves and our own times.” – Olivia de Havilland
“Molly Haskell is a magician to coax such exciting, fresh, brilliant analysis from such a problematic classic. Her feeling for ambivalence and nuance reveals unsuspected shadings, and thrillingly elucidates Gone with the Wind’s miraculous tightrope act of masculine-feminine sensibilities.” – Phillip Lopate
“Beautifully written and fascinating to digest, Molly Haskell’s Frankly, My Dear towers above any other book that’s yet been written about Gone with the Wind. It has the kind of insights into the Wind phenomenon that only a writer of Molly Haskell’s stature, wisdom and clarity could give us. It is quite the perfect toast to both the book and to the film version of Wind on the latter’s 70th birthday.” — Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies
“With her sharp feeling for movie culture, sexual politics, and the elusive mores of the old South, Molly Haskell brilliantly sketches the contribution of everyone who shaped Gone with the Wind into a problematic but enduring popular classic.” — Morris Dickstein, author of Gates of Eden and Leopards in the Temple
“A stunning piece of criticism, written with fever-pitch intensity, that demonstrates so movingly why it’s impossible to name the kind of greatness found in Gone with the Wind and impossible to refrain from trying.” — Alan Trachtenberg, author of Lincoln’s Smile and Other Enigmas
“In engaging and witty fashion, Haskell seamlessly weaves together biographical and autobiographical issues, production information, sharp critical commentary, and cogent analysis of the literary, social and political context of both the Margaret Mitchell novel and the David Selznick adaptation. She gives us numerous important insights into the deep mythology of the film and its ability to function as ‘the Bible of America.’” — James Naremore, Indiana University
Molly Haskell “keeps both novel and movie at hand, moving from one to the other. . . . 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.’ ” — Booklist