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Frankly, It Was Gable’s Breath: Critics Dish “GWTW’ Secrets

Film critic and “Frankly My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited” author Molly Haskell had just initiated a discussion about some of the more politically incorrect challenges of examining Margaret Mitchell’s legendary book and subsequent 1939 film Saturday night at the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown when she was immediately silenced.

Haskell’s words were drowned out by screeching feedback that startled the sold-out crowd.

“Careful,” panel moderator and Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne needled his old friend. “That’s Margaret Mitchell. Be careful what you say!”

Indeed, the spirit of the petite Atlanta author and former occupant of the Midtown tourist attraction was felt throughout the salute.

Osborne, the author of “80 Years of the Oscars: The Official History of the Academy Awards,” Haskell and film critic and “GWTW” director “Victor Fleming: An American Master” author Michael Sragow had gathered at the former site of Peggy Mitchell’s “dump” to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Hollywood classic.

A film that was later purchased by fan and CNN founder Ted Turner who launched his Turner Classic Movies 15 years ago here in Atlanta with an airing of his favorite flick.

The trio of film experts came equipped with audience enticing trivia about the book and film too.

Not all of it was pleasant.

For example, Mitchell herself had lobbied against the casting of Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, preferring the more genteel approach of actors Basil Rathbone and Fredric March. Osborne and Sragow also deflated one audience member’s questions, explaining that the “GWTW” cast members “were not chummy” off set.

Alas, the film’s Scarlett O’Hara, actress Vivien Leigh had little attraction for her co-star when the cameras weren’t rolling.

“It was the breath,” Sragow explained. “Gable had false teeth. He had someone standing nearby with mouthwash for the kissing scenes. Dentures really stank back then. It was a personal thing for her. It was something she had to get past during filming.”

Osborne theorizes its the film’s complex relationships that still connect modern audiences to the film.

“For me, the most amazing thing about ‘Gone With the Wind” is to think that [Melanie portrayer] Olivia De Havilland, who was 23 at the time and the others could shoot a scene on a soundstage and have it frozen forever on film and then go home. The fact that it still appeals to us and affects us 70 years later is a miracle.”

Hall & Oates Get ‘Intimate’ At Chastain

Headliners at Chastain often don’t start until 9 p.m. thanks to opening acts. So many folks often straggle in at that time.
Latecomers to the Hall & Oates concert Friday night would have been sorely disappointed because the ’80s rock-pop duo had no opening act and started promptly at 8:05 p.m. with “Maneater” and finished “Kiss On My List” by 9:35 p.m.
The pair had dubbed this an “intimate” concert, which meant Daryl Hall and his no-longer mustached John Oates spent much of the time on stools. The backdrop was a faux brick wall, like they were in a tiny comedy club rather than an amphitheatre before 5,000-plus fans on a pleasant windless spring night.
At past concerts at Chastain, Hall told the crowd, “there are thunderstorms or it’s really hot and muggy. This is perfect!”
The 15-song set included all their biggest hits, from “Private Eyes” to “Out of Touch,” plus three relatively obscure cuts.
Hall’s soulful voice has been untouched by time. Wearing sunglasses, leather jacket, jeans and long hair, from afar, the 60-something man could have easily transported himself back into a 1984 MTV video.
The six-piece band gave the often well-worn ditties a looser, more jazzy vibe. Hall frequently improvised a bit, messing with the melodies, keeping things fresh for himself and the crowd. Even the sing-along moments on songs such as “I Can’t Go For That” felt organic, not forced.
While the concert didn’t have a lot of “wow” moments, the casual vibe and clean sound made it all go down easy, an idyllic night under the stars with a glass of Chablis and a slice of brie.

Celebrity Birthdays

Actor George Takei (”Star Trek”) is 72. Actor Ryan O’Neal is 68. Actor Gregory Itzin (”24″) is 61. Actress Jessica Lange is 60. Actor Clint Howard is 50. Actor Crispin Glover is 45. Actress Carmen Electra is 37. Actor Joey Lawrence (”Dancing with the Stars”) is 33. Multi-instrumentalist Clay Cook of the Zac Brown Band is 31.

Contributing: Rodney Ho and news services.

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4 comments Add your comment

Rebecca Kitchens

April 20th, 2009
11:38 am

Why is it necessary to talk about Clark Gable’s bad breath? Everybody has it, so why single him out? And the main reason Vivien Leigh was not attracted to Clark Gable offscreen was because she was madly in love with Lawrence Olivier at the time… and Clark Gable happened to be married to (and in love with) probably the most beautiful actress who has ever graced Hollywood, then or since, Carole Lombard.

Carole

April 20th, 2009
1:23 pm

Rebecca is right, I suppose since there was no flirtation they were considered unfriendly? They were both in love with others.
Clark and Vivien were actually chummy. I have seen photos of him and Vivien laughing it up between scenes and playing backgammon and Chinese Checkers, and also of him and Olivia De Havilland visiting Vivien on the set of her next film, Waterloo Bridge. I wouldn’t say they were bestest friends ever, but a simple Google search disproves
Osborne and Sragow’s statements. And I why does everyone bring up his denture breath? I never heard Myrna Loy, Jean Harlow or Lana Turner complaining, or is real life love, Carole Lombard, for that matter!

Todd

April 20th, 2009
5:20 pm

Will the author of the article please give us some more detail on what the startling “feedback” was and what Haskell was talking about that was “politically incorrect”? This was a pretty vague description.

Meli

June 26th, 2009
11:13 am

For all you Margaret Mitchell and GWTW fans:
The Margaret Mitchell House-birthplace of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel- in Midtown Atlanta is having a FREE July 4 Weekend from noon to 5 PM on July 4 and 5, 2009! It sounds fun for the whole family- there will be free admission, new exhibitions, games, crafts, and more. Check out: MargaretMitchellHouse.com to find out all of the details!