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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, fought carpetbaggers, 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, AKA The Dream Man.  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 makes me smile, as if 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.


Titanic rose beer

Image credit: Titanic, 1997

Here’s a little history lesson for you. Nearly 18 years ago, in December of 1997, an enormous box office behemoth sailed into movie theaters. Yes that’s right, Titanic (DVD/Download) will soon be an entire adult person old. This makes me feel as geriatric as Gloria Stuart on the bow of that ship. I can still remember the buzz at the lunch table in middle school. Girls making plans to see it at least 5 times over the Christmas holidays, while simultaneously plotting their future lives as Mrs. Leonardo DiCaprio. It was madness. Eighteen years later, I still find the movie entertaining, but I also appreciate a good Titanic parody as much as the next person. I mean, could anybody ever keep a straight face when Billy Zane was onscreen?

As the two leads in the film, Jack and Rose, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet share a unique onscreen chemistry. I witnessed it again in the fabulously underrated film Revolutionary Road, and it makes me wish they’d co-star more often (it’s my secret fantasy that Leo is madly in love with Kate in real life, yet he’s never been able to win her heart. Thus he overcompensates with yachts and supermodels). Titanic is really just Romeo and Juliet meets historical tragedy, with a little saucy Kathy Bates thrown in for good measure. I can’t attest to historical accuracies or inaccuracies, but if the point of the movie is to keep me entertained for 3+ hours, mission accomplished Mr. Cameron.

My cocktail this week is a bit of a no-brainer. In celebrating that great cinematic love story between Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater (seriously, who came up with that name?), while watching Titanic I recommend drinking a classic Jack Rose.*

Jack Rose

4 oz Applejack

2 oz Lemon Juice

1 oz Grenedine

Lime twist (for garnish)

Shake ingredients over ice until chilled, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.

jack rose

*Fun drinking game:  take a drink every time someone says the name Rose.  You’ll be hammered within the first hour.  Then you’ll wonder why people keep saying her name, even when she’s the only other person in the room.

My grandmother used to tell us stories of how she and her girlfriends cut school and drove for hours to go see Gone With the Wind when it was released. That desperation is the only thing I can compare Christmas of 1997 to. We’ll see if Star Wars: The Force Awakens becomes a similar cultural touchstone in the coming weeks. No matter what your feelings are on the schmaltzy Hollywood blockbuster that is Titanic, no one can deny that it brought millions of people together in cinematic viewership. In a world where moviegoing is slowly dying off in favor of at-home options, it’s nice to think about a time when everybody just shut up, put their real lives aside for 3 hours, and got lost together in a little Hollywood magic. Cheers!