28m.jpgI first remember seeing the movie on a flight to Pakistan (kissing scenes edited out). I was amazed by the story, the history, everything. I am only now reading the novel, which is amazing too in its own way. I am slow reader, and the book is quite long. So I often have to put GWTW: The Novel aside for some more important required reading, and I am always sorry to leave the memorable Scarlet behind at these times.

I love her persistence and her inability to hide some emotions. I realize now that I enjoy the movie so much because Scarlet grows throughout. By the end, she is self-reliant and strong. She has inherited from her father a pride in her heritage. She is ready to take on anything! Tomorrow is another day!

That and I just love Rhett Butler — a real man! They don’t make them like that anymore. Did they ever? I saw GWTW on the big screen when it was re-released in 1998 with my cousin Nadia, who also is a big GWTW fan. It was great to see it in a real theater, and I hope they release it again someday. I always look forward to the holidays because, inevitably, Turner Classic Movies shows GWTW. It’s a treat to turn on the television and see Scarlet carrying on like she does, just as always, Mammy scolding her.

On a visit to Atlanta during the book tour for WIAAM, I visited the Margaret Mitchell House with an old college friend of my sister’s, Rumaasha Maasha (who incidentally has a very cool job, working at NASA). Margaret wrote GWTW in an apartment she affectionately called “The Dump.” T037269a.jpgShe wrote in bed and in her living room on a typewriter while at home recovering from an injury that prevented her from working her regular job, as a newspaper journalist. After much prodding, she showed an editor the manuscript, who published it immediately. The book won the Pulitzer and was a huge hit, although this success did not stop some critics from hounding Margaret — I was glad to see that I was not alone in this regard! I learned also that the character of Melanie was loosely based on a relative of Margaret’s who became a nun after her true love cousin was rejected by Melanie’s family as a proper suitor. That spurned cousin, angered at losing the love of his life unfairly, moved to the Wild West and, believe it or not, became the infamous Doc Holliday! I swear this is true!

Soon Hollywood started making the movie. Margaret stayed out of the filming entirely, and it might have been a smart idea as GWTW: The Film was wrought with problems of all kinds. In the end, three different directors worked on the film — at one point, all at the same time in attempt to finish the movie sometime within their lives. The movie’s premiere in Atlanta, which Margaret attended, was a joyous affair, only marred by the fact that the African-American actors were excluded from many of the festivities, Atlanta still being segregated at that time. Controversially, Martin Luther King, Sr. (the MLK of the 60s, his son, was a boy at the time) participated in the festivites. Another well-known, Atlanta African-American minister refused to join in, protesting the segregation. The movie was also a huge success, just like the novel.

gone5.jpgMargaret was killed when she was hit by an off-duty cab near her home in 1949. She was only 48. After her death, it came out that she had secretly funded medical school scholarships for a generation of Atlanta’s African-Americans. The gift was secret because Southern attitudes would have made a public gift impossible. These doctors are still alive today and are just one more legacy of GWTW and Margaret Mitchell.