1939, TSPDT Rank #64
This epic Civil War-era film is, along with another Fleming film, The Wizard of Oz, probably the most popular and enduring classic of the big Hollywood year of 1939. It is one of the most adored romantic films of all time, still enormously popular today despite its age and length. However, I find it interesting how beloved this movie is even today, despite its plentiful similarities in plot and attitude to The Birth of a Nation (which today is a film severely scorned unless being studied purely for its technical cinematic importance). It opens with a bold title card which describes the era of master and slave being a forgotten dream of the past, and portrays the relationship between the two groups as being harmonious and mutual. Now, it doesn't necessarily go as far as portraying the Ku Klux Klan as glorious knights riding into town to save the good ol' white folks as Birth of a Nation does, but it basically hints at the same concept with its portrayal of the despicable black "carpetbaggers" and the pitiful, helpless, abused-looking survivors returning home from battle. That being said, the film is a visual masterpiece, which is allowed to look its best yet thanks to the Blu-ray format, and despite its lies and blatant racism, the structure of the plot is absorbing and nearly impeccable. Add Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh (the two best possible actors for their roles) and this film remains a near-masterpiece. Its almost as important to cinematic history as Birth of a Nation, but its luscious cinematography and nostalgic memories have probably allowed it to get more respect, although on the inside, its ideals and attitudes toward slavery and racism are really not much different at all. A great film, nonetheless, and still worth watching.