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Gone With the Wind

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Gone with the Wind

Image credit: Gone With the Wind, 1939.

This month I’m kicking off a special series of posts I like to call “Cocktails and Corsets”. All of these movies feature strong female leads in some truly bone-crushing costuming. These actresses really had to be tough to deal with this torturous undergarment. Perhaps no other movie character in the history of cinema has displayed as much grit and determination as Scarlett O’Hara in this week’s film, Gone with the Wind (DVD/Download). She delivered Melanie’s baby, escaped a burning city, and flirted with Southern scallywags, all while wearing a corset. That takes guts, and possibly a few bruised ribs.

Though Scarlett is pretty tough, she would have been nothing without her maid. Hattie McDaniel is truly the unsung hero of GWTW, lacing up that shapewear with superhuman strength, while reassuring her petulant charge that a bigger waist after childbirth is to be expected. It’s because of Mammy that Scarlett’s outfits were so outstanding. Even wearing some old drapes, she looked like a million bucks (way better than those pesky Von Trapp children). Her tiny figure and opulent gowns quickly attracted the attention of Rhett Butler, but unfortunately, Scarlett’s personality was not nearly as flattering as her clothes.  If I were Rhett, I would have left her for the army too.

Several years ago, I was lucky enough to catch a screening of this film at the historic Fox Theater in Atlanta. Although the film originally premiered at the Loews Theater, the cast stayed across the street from the Fox, at The Georgian Terrace Hotel. I have very fond memories of sipping the most southern of beverages on the veranda of this hotel (though it probably would have tasted better with Clark Gable in proximity).  While watching Gone with the Wind, I recommend drinking a Mint Julep.

Mint Julep

4-5 mint leaves

1 tsp powdered sugar

2 tsp water

2 oz bourbon

Sprig of Mint for garnish

Muddle mint, powdered sugar, and water together at the bottom of a glass. Fill with cracked ice, then top with bourbon. Gently stir ingredients together, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Mint Julep

One of my favorite stories surrounding GWTW comes from my late grandmother, who used to tell us about how she skipped school with her girlfriends to go see it in 1939. To think of her swooning over Rhett Butler and being scandalized (in a good way) by Scarlett still brings a smile, reminding me that a movie can be a sort of time machine that bridges the gap between generations. If you’ve never taken the time to watch Gone with the Wind and soak in the historical and cultural significance, I have only this to say: Frankly, my dear, you should give a damn. Cheers!

*For more great Gone With the Wind information and behind-the-scenes photos, be sure to check out this amazing book from the University of Texas Press. This is a difficult film for many, with very controversial themes. But by understanding the context in which it was made, I believe it can serve as an important record of our past.

2 responses »

  1. Mary Jane Moyer

    Youhave outdone yourself, Liz Locke. I could barely catch my breath as I meta morphed into Scarlett’s persona (size 2 didn’t make it any easier) to just try and imagine the embrace of Rhett himself. I, like Miss Josephine, would have chanced truancy for sure to get lost in that theater with his attention on me alone. It was a very hard landing to arrive back to Perry County and face reality in the 21st century. And with an at least 4 more inch larger waistline!!!
    I will toast you with a gen-u-ine mint julep this week as we travel to Kentucky for Derby Weekend..
    Thanks for the memories……
    MJ Moyer

    • Yes, what a happy accident that Derby Weekend is coming up! Yet another reason to break out the bourbon 🙂


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