Haskell Captures the Dynamics Underlying an American Icon in Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited
By Penelope Andrew
Film scholar Molly Haskell could not have been a more perfect choice for Yale University Press to tap for another volume in its Icons of America series that explicates the phenomenon—both novel and film—of Gone with the Wind. Its virtues and flaws are explored with an erudite, yet fresh perspective from a feminist who considers aesthetics before politics in her role as film critic. However, in Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited, Haskell draws from France’s vanguard social theorist Alexis de Tocqueville as well the visual artistry of Hollywood’s William Cameron Menzies in analyzing the wonder of GWTW.
The author--a transplanted southerner raised in Richmond who now lives in NYC--never turns away from the fact that Margaret Mitchell’s story trivializes the enormous human tragedy of slavery, yet elevates Mammy, a slave, to a position of wisdom who often serves as the saga’s moral center. These fascinating dualities and ironies fuel the power of GWTW, and Haskell’s book itself. Exhaustive dichotomies in which Haskell poses Cukor next to Fleming, the delicate alongside the bold, the fussy with the sweeping—essentially every “yin and yang” firing up the strands of GWTW’s DNA--are explored.
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Molly Haskell is a distinguished critic and author, and a member of the Women Film Critics Circle. More information is at: MollyHaskell.com
Penelope Andrew, a NY based writer who contributes to The Huffington Post and Critical Women on Film, is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle. A certified psychoanalytic psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, she maintains a private psychotherapy practice in NYC.