By Jim Heffernan
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the premiere of the movie “Gone With the Wind.” It also marks the 75th anniversary of my birth, which isn’t getting nearly as much hoopla as the movie’s anniversary.
Truth be told (and this is a fact you could check) the filming of Gone With the Wind almost coincides with my own gestation period. The filming began in December 1938 with the shooting of the scenes involving the burning of Atlanta (they were actually burning the old King Kong movie set) and proceeded through most of 1939. It had its premiere in Atlanta in December of that year, some two months after I was born.
As part of the great celebration of this Diamond Anniversary (never mind that the 60th anniversary of anything is also called diamond), the movie is being reissued on the big screen Sept. 28. It will be shown in the Twin Cities and I will be there.
I first saw GWTW (let’s call it that from now on) at Duluth’s Granada Theater when I was in junior high. It had been reissued, probably for the 15th anniversary of its premiere.
In today’s parlance, I was blown away by it. I don’t know where you’d end up being blown away by a wind that’s gone, but let’s just say it made a big impression on me. Greatest movie I’d ever seen, and even at that tender age I’d seen many. I joke that I spent half my childhood watching double features at the old Lyceum Theater.
Nothing I’d ever seen, though, compared to GWTW. In the intervening years I went to it every time it was reissued. It came back to theaters for years before it was ever shown on television. Then I watched it on television a few times. I would hazard a guess I have seen GWTW about 12 times. Since the movie is four hours long (three hours, 45 minutes plus a 15-minute intermission), I suppose I’ve spent 48 hours of my 75 years watching that movie.
And now I look forward to spending four more hours – again in a theater on the big screen in blazing Technicolor with the sweeping sound of composer Max Steiner’s awe-inspiring score and the stellar performances of Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh and the rest. I can hardly wait.
This could be the last time for me on the big screen, though. If they put it into theaters at its century anniversary, I’ll be long gone… you could say gone with the wind. By then, frankly, my dear, I won’t give a damn.
Still, if there is a heaven… Oh, I won’t think about that now. I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow IS another day. (Cue music.)