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Gone with the Wind [DVD] [1939]

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Gone with the Wind is a sprawling mosaic of a picture, one of the best-loved and most successful in movie history, but also one of the most frustrating. Several of them have been reproduced here, including concerns about casting, mulling over who ought to replace Victor Fleming after he was pushed past the breaking point, and celebrating the first footage to have been lensed before principal photography had officially begun. Only it was the four-disc collectors edition released in 2004 to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Gone With The Wind. But the second half shifts gear, the melodramatic quotient is upped yet further as tragedy piles upon tragedy, and despite its unwieldy length everything feels rushed. This exclusive 2004 documentary includes Olivia’s memories which are so vivid and detailed that it’s as if it was only yesterday as opposed to 1939!

This segment also touches on the shifting balances of power throughout Hollywood as a whole, including the arrival of such Method actors as Brando, the power of the producer making way for directors craving more creative control, and the reluctant embrace of darker themes and more graphic violence. The only vintage promotional materials are trailers and newsreels, really; no still galleries or radio spots have been included. What continues to marvel me about Gone with the Wind is how it's so deftly able to convey such a sprawling, epic scope without losing sight of the intimate drama between its characters. Its dialogue may also be the most eminently quotable of any single film released before Casablanca, and Gone with the Wind is, of course, flawlessly cast. For example, The Wizard of Oz included a half-hour featurette entitled "Victor Fleming: Master Craftsman", and although Gone with the Wind is highlighted prominently in that retrospective, it didn't find its way to this Blu-ray set.

It is a must-have for fans of Gone With The Wind and Old Hollywood and ideal for those interested in films. Nonetheless, this 1939 box-office smash remains one of Hollywood's finest achievements, an irresistible spectacle chock-full of the finest stars in the filmic firmament striking sparks off one another.

Not surprisingly for a commentary running nearly four hours in length, this conversation with Behlmar is startlingly comprehensive.This is a studio that, in the space of just a few weeks, has issued the first Hitchcock film on these shores in high definition as well as both Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. This segment's primary focus is on the two forces that propelled MGM to become the largest, most successful, and most admired studio in Hollywood: wunderkind head of production Irving Thalberg and studio chief Louis B. Other features on this disc includes Atlanta Premiere Newsreels giving us the opportunity to see Vivien, Clark, Margaret Mitchell and even Carole Lombard. Vivien Leigh: Scarlett and Beyond is a 1990 documentary on disc four hosted by actress Jessica Lange featuring memories and tributes from fellow actors Claire Bloom, Kim Hunter, John Gielgud and Sir Douglas Fairbanks Jr. She may even be the strongest and most reliable of the many dozens of characters in the entire film.

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