Thursday, September 30, 2010

Poster of the Week

After selections from Sweden, Belgium and South Korea, we have another international GWTW poster for you. This week's poster comes from Russia (date unknown), and features Rhett and Scarlett set against a fiery sunset and, curiously, a sculpted archway.

Image from 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Crash Course in Victorian Gloves

There was some interest around here lately for more details on various aspects of Scarlett's wardrobe. We did our best to garner answers for some of the questions asked in the comments last week. It has not been easy; our usual sources didn't really cover accessories, but with the help of iso and her recently-acquired subscription to the entire archive of Godey's Lady's Book (!), today I am here with information on the burning topic of 19th century gloves.
And for the Victorians, gloves were indeed a burning topic. The fashion regarding gloves changed numerous times throughout the century, but some things remained constant. The wearing of gloves was strongly encouraged not only outdoors, but indoors as well. Gloves were an indicator of a person's social and economic status, so nothing but the best quality would do. An old proverb said that it took three kingdoms to make one glove: Spain to provide the kid, France to cut it out and England to sew it. The cutting was the essential part, for gloves had to be fit to the hand of the wearer. This was not an era that encouraged mass-production for luxury items: hands had to be measured for gloves, just like feet were measured for boots. In the picture, you can see a lady getting fitted for her gloves.

Quite a precious commodity under these circumstances, gloves were carefully cleaned and kept in ornate glove boxes. They were of course differentiated for day wear and evening wear and for various occasions. Some people, generally the extravagantly rich, were said to change their gloves up to 4 times a day. In a century that put so much set on this particular accessory, Scarlett O'Hara's lack of gloves during the jail scene was in itself unladylike, regardless of the state of her hands. A lady did not leave her house without her gloves on.

As the century progressed, the style of gloves and the materials used changed numerous times. The popularity of kid was slowly dented by first suede, and then lace and silk. At the very beginning of the century, long gloves were popular, in the style favored by Empress Josephine of France (Napoleon's first wife). The length was compensated by the gloves' loose fit on the arm, that allowed women to wear them drawn down towards the wrist, at various lengths. The long gloves will only come back into fashion in the second half of the century (around 1870), coupled with a tight fit on the arm, that made it a little complicated for ladies to don and remove their gloves. A compromise was achieved with the mousquetaire wrist opening, through which ladies could slip their hands out of the gloves for meals without removing them altogether (it was and is against etiquette to eat or drink with gloves on).

And since all the other aspects (color, fabric, length) pretty much differ from year to year, there wouldn't have been much sense in me trying to treat this period as whole. So instead iso and I had a different idea. After the jump, you'll find a timeline of glove styles fashionable from 1861 to 1873, taken directly from Godey's Lady's Book. This way you can not only see how the fashion evolved, but also check exactly what gloves Scarlett would have been wearing every year of the book (baring the war years, of course).

Also, after the jump, two extra surprises for you: a guide to glove lengths and a fragment examining the relation between gloves and mourning. Check it out and tell us what you think!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Day When Bugsie Killed the Comments

Ladies and gentlemen, we need your help and patience. Since the comments in Blogger were getting hard to follow, with the lack of a threaded comments option and all, we have switched to Disqus. However, this means that all the old comments have temporarily disappeared. They are being imported into Disqus as we speak and it might take a while for them to be back (the worst case scenario: a couple of days).

In the meantime, please try the new commenting system and tell us what you think.
  • Are the comments easier to follow this way? 
  • Are you okay with the new login options (i.e. email required)?
  • Have you encountered any problems trying to comment (page loading slowly/not responding etc)?
We can switch back to the old system anytime if people are not okay with Disqus/if the old comments never do show up *knock on wood*, so this is your chance to let us know what you think. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Reading: Scarlett & Jo. Two Civil War Novels Compared

So, in case you didn't already guess it from the title, the article below is one comparing and contrasting Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind with Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, with a focus on their respective heroines Scarlett O'Hara and Jo March.  Enjoy! (And since I suppose at least some of you must be fans of Little Women, please feel free to tell us what you thought of this parallel.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Rue de la Paix

Weekends were made for lounging. And so we offer you a collage of Scarlett kicking back in splendid style. Enjoy your own lazy weekend! 

Scarlett's Boudoir
Scarlett's Boudoir by carol@themovies featuring a corset blouse

Friday, September 24, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 4: Belle Watling's Orange Dress

Until now, our Doppelganger Dresses feature has focused exclusively on one Miss Scarlett O'Hara but as compelling as our green-eyed heroine is, she isn't the only character Walter Plunkett designed costumes for in GWTW. So today we are changing gears and showcasing a dress worn by Belle Watling. The dress in question is actually my favorite costume of Belle's in the movie: the orange dress, trimmed with red flowers and black lace,  that she wears when she advises a furious Rhett that it's best not to throw the baby out with the bathwater to return home and focus on Bonnie.

So which period fashion plates that have the unique distinction of resembling a dress worn by Atlanta's most notorious madam? You'll find them after the jump, along with some images of Miss Watling in her finery for comparison. As always, let us know what you think of the styles in the comments!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Poster of the Week

Rhett's departing kiss to Scarlett at Rough and Ready is a popular motif in GWTW poster art no matter which country you visit--and that includes this week's selection from South Korea (date unknown). Enjoy! 

Image from

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just a Light Lunch, Charleston Style

When I think of eating a light lunch, to me that means something like half of a turkey sandwich and an apple. Not surprisingly, our friends the Old Charlestonians had rather different notions about what constituted a light mid-day meal. After the jump, we've prepared another edition of Southern Cookin' for you. This time it's just a very delicate, sparse four course meal, with recipes taken from the invaluable Charleston Recollections and Receipts: Rose P. Ravenel's Cookbook.  (More info on the cookbook can be found in post one here.)

So if you're feeling just a teeny bit hungry around lunchtime, do be sure to check out the  following recipes. They are absolutely perfect for a small snack! 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 3: Scarlett's Surprise Party Dress (Book Version)

"He was in her closet, going through her dresses swiftly.  He fumbled and drew out her new jade-green watered-silk dress.  It was cut low over the bosom and the skirt was draped back over an enormous bustle and on the bustle was a huge bunch of pink velvet roses."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter LIII

Our Doppelganger Dresses selection for this week is a change of pace from what will typically be the main focus of the series: Walter Plunkett's costumes for the movie version of Gone with the Wind. But Plunkett isn't the only person in the GWTW world known for scrupulous attention to detail and historical accuracy--there's also Margaret Mitchell to contend with, of course. So this time, we have three fashion plates for you based on MM's description of the notorious dress Scarlett wore to Ashley’s birthday party. 

I admit I have always had a hard time picturing what this dress looked like in my mind ("an enormous bustle with pink velvet roses - huh?!").  So if this dress leaves you sartorially stumped like me, I hope these images help bring it into greater focus.

Check them out after the jump. Which one can you most imagine Scarlett wearing to Ashley's surprise party? 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rue de la Paix

This week's collage provides a rather sweet interpretation of an otherwise intense and unhappy night for Scarlett O'Hara Kennedy. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Crossing Paths: Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner (part 2)

Yesterday we examined some letters and a review that gave us an idea of what Margaret Mitchell must have thought of William Faulkner's writing. As promised, today we're back with William Faulkner's side of the story.

William Faulkner and Margaret Mitchell
William Faulkner about Margaret Mitchell

I will preface this by saying that, although some articles (like the one encompassing Mitchell's review from yesterday) suggest that Faulkner was jealous of Gone with the Wind's success, I've found no direct evidence to that. It wouldn't be surprising, though. One can't know for sure whether Faulkner resented the quasi-total obscurity of his own name, in light of the popular recognition and prizes Gone with the Wind scored (see the 1937 Pulitzer, thought it must be said that more highbrow awards tended to ignore Mitchell). What is certain though is that he wanted at least one aspect that came with this success: the money. He had always had a hard time making ends meet and still finding enough time to write. And as you can read below, the phenomenon that was Gone with the Wind gave him hope that he could make more money with his novels as well.

Did William Faulkner read Gone with the Wind? The answer is most probably no. At least he claimed he hadn’t in an interview for the Memphis Commercial Appeal dating from November 18, 1937. According to the article in question: “His reason for not having read Gone with the Wind is that it is 'entirely too long for any story.' Nor has he read Anthony Adverse [another highly-popular historical novel made into a movie in 1936] for the same reason: That no story takes 1000 pages to tell."  We must of course take into account the fact that Faulkner famously disliked giving interviews and his answers were often short and/or flippant, and moreover that, in this particular case, we get to see the reporter's account and not his entire answer.  But the derogatory note still remains.

Gone with the Wind the movie is an entirely different story. Its connections to Faulkner are easy to trace. There is no clear indication of whether he had seen the movie or not. Blotner, one of his biographers, goes as far as to suggest that Gone with the Wind - that had played in Oxford, Mississippi, the writer's hometown, as it did all over America - might have inspired the title of one of Faulkner's books, Go Down, Moses, a collection of short stories published in 1942. [As you well know, the song Go Down, Moses appears both in Gone with the Wind the book and in the soundtrack of the movie.]

It would be a funny crossing of paths, especially if one is aware of another little coincidence regarding titles. Both Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner had considered the Macbeth quote "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" as title for their books, Gone with the Wind and The Sound and the Fury. But however entertaining this drawing of parallels is, I personally don't think Faulkner watched Gone with the Wind. The reality is that the only time he refers directly to a scene from the movie, he doesn't seem to know what he's talking about.

One incident that happened when Gone with the Wind played in Oxford had amused Faulkner and he used it more than once as an example of how Southern women had never really gotten over the war, had never really admitted defeat. What happened was that his aunt, Holland Falkner Wilkins (Auntee ), excited by the prospect of watching Gone with the Wind, had paid 75 cents to reserve a seat at the screening.  But as soon as Sherman's name appeared in the movie, she stalked out of the theater. Faulkner recounts this incident in the series of  conferences he held at the University of Virginia in 1957-58. He also seems to be under the impression that Sherman himself appeared as a character in Gone with the Wind:
"But it was the—the aunts, the women, that had never given up. I—my aunt, she liked to go to picture shows. They had Gone with the Wind in the theatre at home, and she went to see it, and as soon as Sherman came on the screen, she got up and left. She had paid good money to go there, but she wasn't going to sit and look at Sherman."
Listen to the record or read the transcript in its entirety here.
Faulkner had already used this little incident in a paragraph from the novel Requiem for a Nun, published in 1951. Brace yourselves for a fragment (!) from a very long sentence. Lovely prose and imagery to compensate for the length: 
"(...) only the aging unvanquished women were unreconciled, irreconcilable, reversed and irrevocably reverted against the whole moving unanimity of panorama until, old unordered vacant pilings above a tide's flood, they themselves had an illusion of motion, facing irreconcilably backward toward the old lost battles, the old aborted cause, the old four ruined years whose very physical scars ten and twenty and twenty-five changes of season had annealed back into the earth; twenty-five and then thirty-five years; not only a century and an age, but a way of thinking died; the town itself wrote the epilogue and epitaph: (...) the marble effigy - the stone infantryman on his stone pedestal (...); epilogue and epitaph, because apparently neither the U.D.C. ladies who instigated and bought the monument, nor the architect who designed it nor the masons who erected it, had noticed that the marble eyes under the shading marble palm stared not toward the north and the enemy, but toward the south, toward (if anything) his own rear - looking perhaps, the wits said (could say now, with the old war thirty-five years past and you could even joke about it - except the women, the ladies, the unsurrendered, the irreconcilable, who even after another thirty-five years would still get up and stalk out of picture houses showing Gone With the Wind), for reinforcements; or perhaps not a combat soldier at all, but a provost marshal's man looking for deserters, or perhaps himself for a safe place to run to: because that old war was dead;"
--excerpted from Requiem for a Nun by William Faulkner
[Compare to Mitchell's: 
"Throughout the South for fifty years there would be bitter-eyed women who looked backward, to dead times, to dead men, evoking memories that hurt and were futile, bearing poverty with bitter pride because they had those memories. But Scarlett was never to look back."
Gone with the Wind, Chapter XXV
"Many ex-Confederate soldiers, knowing the frantic fear of men who saw their families in want, were more tolerant of former comrades who had changed political colors in order that their families might eat. But not the women of the Old Guard, and the women were the implacable and inflexible power behind the social throne. The Lost Cause was stronger, dearer now in their hearts than it had ever been at the height of its glory. It was a fetish now. Everything about it was sacred, the graves of the men who had died for it, the battle fields, the torn flags, the crossed sabres in their halls, the fading letters from the front, the veterans. These women gave no aid, comfort or quarter to the late enemy, and now Scarlett was numbered among the enemy."
Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLIX]
So judging by the way he describes it, I doubt that Faulkner really watched the movie. He was interested in it for another reason, though. Faulkner had experience as a screenwriter in Hollywood, and he was not new to the scene of novels being translated into movies either. His own 1931 novel, Sanctuary had been adapted into the 1933 drama The Story of Temple Drake, the quality of which made Margaret Mitchell fearful of what Hollywood would do to her own book. Faulkner was less concerned, though, because what he desperately needed was money.

In September of 1936, when Absalom, Absalom ("the best novel yet written by an American," as the author described it) was close to being published, Faulkner had set to sell the movie rights to it for twice the amount David O. Selznick had paid for Gone with the Wind in July: $100,000. Later that month, he sent the galleys of the book and a note to  screenwriter and producer Nunnally Johnson. The price had dropped to $50,000: "Nunnally- These are the proofs of my new book. The price is $50,000. It's about miscegenation." But unlike Gone with the Wind, and unlike some of Faulkner's other novels, this was no heroic, romanticized view of the South. As a result, no one wanted to buy  Absalom, Absalom.

Two years later, however, Gone with the Wind's success did bring Faulkner some money. M-G-M, having lost the bidding war for Mitchell's book, looked into buying the rights for another Civil War novel that they could turn into their own Gone with the Wind, and found The Unvanquished, a novel published in February of 1938. It was fashioned from stories Faulkner had already published in The Saturday Evening Post and a little closer to Gone with the Wind than Absalom, Absalom. M-G-M bought the rights for $25,000 and intended to cast Clark Gable (!) in the leading part. The project never came to fruition. Here's Faulkner's account of it: 
"Yes, they—they bought the book. That is a funny story, too. A producer named David Selznick bought Gone with the Wind. M-G-M wanted to make it, and he—he wouldn't let M-G-M make it. He wanted to use Gable, who was under contract to M-G-M in it, and they—they wouldn't let him have Gable, and he wouldn't let them have Gone with the Wind. So they bought my book and told him that—that if he didn't let them make Gone with the Wind, they were going to make a Gone with the Wind of their own. They had no intention of making a moving picture out of my book. And so Selznick let them make the picture."
Listen to the record or read the transcript in its entirety here.
So there you have it. In some ways these writers been in the each other's shadow for a good part of their lives. For Mitchell, Faulkner's work was the highbrow critical acclaim she never got, while for Faulkner, Gone with the Wind, both movie and book, represented the popular success that came late in his life. These are all the ways I could find in which Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner actually crossed paths.

Hope you've enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed digging for all these tidbits. I hope to update this post if I find more information (actually, what I am hoping is that I will find a secret correspondence between these two writers à la A.S Byatt's Possession, but it looks like that's not going to happen...).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Poster of the Week

This 1947 poster (23 x 30 1/2) comes from Belgium and shows a barbeque dress-clad Scarlett in a passionate embrace with Rhett. Hmm... perhaps the illustrator had a secret affection for GWTW "what if?" scenarios? 

 Image from Poster information cited from Herb Bridges' "Frankly My Dear..."

Crossing Paths: Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner (part 1)

1936 was undoubtedly a good year for Southern literature. It marked the publishing of the most popular novel that came out of the South--Gone with the Wind, without the shadow of a doubt--and of one of the most, if not the most, critically acclaimed books of the whole Southern Renaissance, William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom. Nothing could be more different than the trajectories of these two books. Gone with the Wind, published in June, immediately became the public’s favorite, selling over a million copies by the end of the year (the millionth copy was printed on December 15), while Absalom, Absalom, published in October, was by comparison a minor success at best. Its first printing only amounted  to 6,000 copies. 

Through the years, Gone with the Wind’s popularity continued to grow with audiences all over the world, though literary critics would always remain less than unanimous in their appraisal of it. By contrast, Faulkner's books always enjoyed a good reputation with scholars, academics and Europe’s literary elite, but remained virtually unknown to the American public until the late 1940s. In 1946, some of his works, that had all been out of print, were made available to readers in the form of a Portable Faulkner, and the Nobel Prize he won in 1949 brought him to the public’s attention for good. 

Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner
My goal today is not to compare the works of these two writers, though I don’t rule out the possibility of a post/posts with that topic in the future. (Have patience, your here blogger is quite the Faulkner fan.) Instead, what I put together for you is a selection of trivia, attempting to highlight the ways in which Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner crossed paths in American culture. I was fascinated to find clues of what they might have thought of each other, and hope you'll enjoy reading this as well. 

Me being me, however, the material quickly spiraled out of control. So in order not to have one gigantic unreadable post, today we'll look into what Margaret Mitchell thought/wrote about William Faulkner and tomorrow you can return to read his side of the story. 

Margaret Mitchell about William Faulkner 

Margaret Mitchell would have had little reason to like William Faulkner. The men who praised Faulkner were the same critics that bashed Gone with the Wind, notably Malcolm Cowley, the man who would later oversee the publishing of the Portable Faulkner. She professed herself untouched by their scathing reviews and maintained that she didn't want "the aesthetes and radicals of literature" to like her book. The aesthetes in particular were of course Faulkner's main audience at the time.

Moreover, her letters to Herschel Brickell show her opposed to many of the tendencies in her time's literature, of which Faulkner was a prime example: "I've seen so much confused thinking, been so impatient with minds that couldn't start at the beginning of things and work them through logically through the end, etc., that when I sit down to read I don't want to read about muddled minds even if the muddled minds are muddling along in lovely prose." Whoever read a page of Faulkner might recognize him in this unwillingness to "start at the beginning of things and work through them logically through the end." (As well, as in the "lovely prose," Bugsie hastens to add!)

But despite all this, and despite some criticism directed at him and Caldwell, she seems to have kept in touch with Faulkner's writing over the years. One thing Faulkner might have had in his favor was that, though his portrayal of the South differed in many ways from that of Mitchell's, his work was not directly reflective of the leftism she so much despised. [Indeed, before the war, he had been criticized for not tackling more social issues in his books.]

Surprisingly enough, Margaret Mitchell's first reference to William Faulkner dates from a time when both of them were basically unknown to the public. In the spring of 1926, she was writing for the Atlanta Journal, while Faulkner had just made his debut as a novelist. His first book, Soldiers' Pay, had been published in February and Margaret Mitchell was  among the earliest to review it for the Sunday Magazine Supplement of the Journal. It's not verified whether she was in fact the very first reviewer of the novel, though, according to E. Bledsoe, that is a distinct possibility.

Mitchell's review, appearing on March 26, a month after the novel was published, praised Faulkner for striking "an entirely new note in post-war fiction." To me, two aspects of her commentary stood out. First, that she warns the readers against the "obvious crudities" in Soldiers' Pay, which ties in quite nicely with the way she would later distance herself from a perceived naturalistic note in contemporary literature, by pointing out that Gone with the Wind contained "precious little obscenity in it, no adultery and not a single degenerate." And the aspects she does praise are, quite interestingly, those that anticipate the focus in Faulkner's later novels and that might have appealed to Mitchell's artistic sensibility as well:
"The atmosphere of the small southern town where the duck-legged Confederate monument ornamented the courthouse square, the red dust of the road settled thick on the magnolia blossoms in the hot afternoon and the summer somnolence pervading everything except the hearts of the characters, is perhaps the best thing in the book."
From Peggy Mitchell's review of Soldiers's [sic] Pay

Margaret Mitchell seems to have maintained her interest in Faulkner's writing after Gone with the Wind was published. The first indication of this we get from a letter dated November 13, 1936, relatively soon after Absalom, Absalom appeared, and addressed to her friend, literary critic Herschel Brickell.
"Herschel, did you review William Faulkner's latest? I will not be able to read it as my reading for months will be so limited. If you can get a copy of your review without too much trouble, please send it to me. I would go to the library and read it but I have abandoned the library. I know all the librarians and most of the regular visitors and when I go there I get backed in a corner or asked to autograph or have to stand for hours talking so that I come home exhausted and ready to weep. I'd be more interested in your opinions than anyone else's so I'd like to see them."
--excerpted from Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind Letters edited by R. Harwell.
We don't have her thoughts on Absalom, Absalom, which would have been quite interesting to read. Also, there is no record of Margaret Mitchell and William Faulkner meeting in person or corresponding, though the following letter Mitchell sent him on May 17, 1949 may suggest that they were at least acquainted with each other:
"Dear Mr. Faulkner:
"When I was cleaning out my files recently, I came upon an old catalogue sent me by the Italian publisher of 'Gone With the Wind.' Going through it, I observed with interest that Arnoldo Mondadori was also your publisher. On the chance that you never saw this catalogue with the reproduction of the 'Sanctuary' jacket, I am sending it to you. I showed it to a friend who is a great admirer of your books—'Dear me—how explicit the Italians are!'"
--excerpted from Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind Letters edited by R. Harwell.
[Sanctuary is one of Faulkner's most controversial novels, quite crude in some of its details. An 'explicit' jacket of Sanctuary? My personal guess is that it would involve corncobs.]

There are no letters of admiration and praise, like those Margaret Mitchell sent to other writers of the time (see Stark Young), and all things considered, I sincerely doubt she was a fan of Faulkner's writing. But she was undoubtedly familiar with some of his work and it seems to me, not unfriendly towards him either.

Did Faulkner return the courtesy? How did he take Gone with the Wind's immense success outshadowing his own work? Stay tuned to find out!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Quotable Rhett Butler: Gain the World, Lose Your Soul

So I figured we should continue our incursion into biblical territory with a quote whose origin eluded me until very recently (read: last week). Of course, if on a scale from Bugsie to Bible scholar, you lean towards the latter, it probably won't be a new reference for you as well, but I thought it would still be fun to share. Here it is:  
"That's not a vast age. It's a young age to have gained the whole world and lost your soul, isn't it?"--Gone with the Wind, Chapter LXIII
This comes from Rhett's final speech. I've always had a vague intuition that it had to be a quote by the sound of it, but was never curious enough to actually look it up. And when I did, I found that we had another candidate for our list of biblical references. The phrase appears more than once in the New Testament, but we'll go with Mark :36. Words - Jesus, emphasis - Bugsie (translation - whoever King James paid):
"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
And now, contrary to the popular belief, I won't go into an elaborate rambling tying this reference to the rest of Rhett's speech. Not only because I rather enjoy writing short posts, but also because his meaning is pretty much obvious. Instead I will say that my favorite thing about it is, for once, Scarlett reaction ("But Rhett is my soul and I'm losing him. And if I lose him, nothing else matters!") and invite you to answer a question. Do you think this phrase (to have gained the world and lost his soul) can apply to Rhett as well, at the end of the book?

PS: Don't forget to tune in on TCM for Gone with the Wind tonight!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Scenery and Greenery of Gone with the Wind (3)

"The avenue of cedars leading from the main road to the house--that avenue of cedars without which no Georgia planter's home could be complete--had a cool dark shadiness that gave a brighter tinge, by contrast, to the green of the other trees.  The wistaria tumbling over the verandas showed bright against the whitewashed brick, and it joined with the pink crepe myrtle bushes by the door and the white-blossomed magnolias in the yard to disguise some of the awkward lines of the house.

In spring time and summer, the Bermuda grass and clover on the lawn became emerald, so enticing an emerald that it presented an irresistible temptation to the flocks of turkeys and white geese that were supposed to roam only the regions in the rear of the house.  The elders of the flocks continually led stealthy advances into the front yard, lured on by the green of the grass and the luscious promise of the cape jessamine buds and the zinnia beds."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter III

Today I'm pleased to offer another collection of lush Georgia foliage for exploration in the Scenery and Greenery of Gone with the Wind.  Below you'll find photos and info for all the plants and flowers mentioned in the quote above--with the exception of cape jessamine and magnolias, which can both be found in the second edition of the series.  Descriptions of plants, when available,  are taken from Southern wild flowers and trees, together with shrubs, vines and various forms of growth found through the mountains, the middle district and the low country of the South (1901).  

Sigh- doesn't Tara seem like the most beautiful place in the world, with all this breathtaking scenery around? No wonder Scarlett loved it so much.

Red Cedar

Family: Pine         Color: Green foliage, reddish brown bark          Blooms: May-April

"[R]ed cedar, or savin, has perhaps the happiest knack of versatility of all the trees and occurs in various forms from a low shrub to a tree, often one hundred feet high. Throughout North America it is more widely distributed than any other coniferous one, accommodating itself readily to every condition of soil."

Family: Pea          Color: Pale Purple          Blooms: April-June

"As this, one of the most beautiful of our native vines, is seen climbing over high trees and other forms of growth, it transforms truly the low grounds and swamps into bowers of fragrant loveliness; and on some warm day in April when there is a feverish desire to blossom among the little plants, it overhangs them in masses and supplants all their efforts to be gay, while also attracting to itself many more than its share of humble bee lovers."
Crepe Myrtle Tree 

Family: Loosestrife         Color: Pinkish purple          Blooms: July-September

"Besides other common representatives of this family which lack of space forbids entering in these pages, there is seen through the southern cities the crepe myrtle tree, Lagerstroemia indica. Originally it has been imported from eastern Asia. When well grown and hung with its deep pink, crinkly bloom it is very beautiful."

Bermuda Grass

Family: Grass          Color: Grey-Green         Blooms: N/A


Family: Pea          Color: Green leaves, white flowers         Blooms: September-October


Family: Daisy          Color: Multiple         Blooms: August-September

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rue de la Paix

This week's Rue de la Paix serves both as a collage and as a friendly reminder. Gone with the Wind will be on Turner Classic Movies this Tuesday Sept. 14 at 8pm ET, featured as part of TCM's tribute to Star of the Month Vivien Leigh.  For you night owls, the documentary The Making of a Legend immediately follows the movie at 12am ET.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 2: The Baby Carriage Dress

We're back with another edition of Doppelganger Dresses, where we feature the possible inspirations for Gone with the Wind costumes from period fashion plates. Today's entry is the pink stripe dress a petulant Scarlett wears to go strolling down Peachtree Street with Rhett and baby Bonnie. Like the Shantytown dress we featured last week, the "baby carriage" dress was a popular style of the time and versions of it appear in many fashion plates. 

We've selected two similar fashions for your viewing after the jump, along with the original Walter Plunkett costume sketch and several publicity stills from GWTW for reference. Do you think they resemble the baby carriage dress? Which one more so? Let us know what you think in the comments! 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Poster of the Week

This week's poster (date unknown) hails from the Scandinavian north of Sweden and features Rhett and Scarlett in the famous embrace from the proposal scene. 
Image from 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sweets and Champagne: Another Honeymoon Edition of Southern Cookin'

"The wines and liqueurs and champagnes of New Orleans were new and exhilarating to her, acquainted with only homemade blackberry and scuppernong vintages and Aunt Pitty's 'swoon' brandy..."

" 'You eat as though each meal were your last,' said Rhett. 'Don't scrape the plate, Scarlett.  I'm sure there's more in the kitchen. You have only to ask the waiter.  If you don't stop being such a glutton, you'll be as fat as the Cuban ladies and then I shall divorce you.'

But she only put out her tongue at him and ordered another pastry, thick with chocolate and stuffed with meringue."
--Gone with the Wind, Chapter XLVIII

In our previous installment of Southern Cookin' we brought you an assortment of Creole dishes that Rhett and Scarlett could have enjoyed on their honeymoon in New Orleans. But MM didn't just mention rich entrees, of course. There's also the small matter of liqueurs and champagne and sweets. So today I'm pleased to highlight the good stuff some sweeter and more bubbly fare from New Orleans.

The recipes--all either sugar or alcohol based--once again come from the trusty The Picayune's Creole Cook Book, first published in 1901 by The New Orleans Times-Picayune. (More info about the cookbook can be found in the first honeymoon cuisine post.)  

Check out the completely delicious, totally unhealthy menu after the jump.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Quotable Rhett Butler: Good Phrases From "That Book"

As one of our readers aptly observed in a comment for the very first edition of our Quotable Rhett Butler (aww, I am getting nostalgic), for a man who professes not to be a believer, Rhett does use a solid number of biblical references. In fact, the Bible and Shakespeare are probably the top two sources for the allusions one can find in his speech. And it's always a pleasure to see that our talented Mr. Butler is aware of that fact as well: 
"'Lusting in your heart.' That's a good phrase, isn't it? There are a number of good phrases in that Book, aren't there?" --Gone with the Wind, Chapter LIV
You probably recognize the setting for this conversation: the dining room of the Butler mansion, after Ashley's infamous birthday party, with a drunken Rhett  just getting started on the central theme of the night: mental infidelity. Well aware of the fact that his wife was never physically unfaithful to him, he nonetheless knows that her love for Ashley is what triggered both that day's scandal and Scarlett's decision to ask for separate bedrooms. And what better phrase could he find to illustrate that than one picked from a collection of warnings against adultery (Proverbs 6: 20-36, that is)? 
"Do not lust in your heart after her beauty
   or let her captivate you with her eyes,
for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, 
  and the adulteress preys upon your very life. "
But what's more interesting about his line is that, though the phrase is clearly lifted from the Old Testament, its meaning there is quite different from the one in which Rhett uses it. It's obvious that the message was one of precaution: lusting in one's heart and allowing one to be tempted by a woman opened the door to actual adultery, and that was the sin, not the lusting itself. Rhett, however, implies that mental infidelity qualifies as adultery in itself, ergo Scarlett is guilty, though she was never physically unfaithful.

But we can find another passage in the Bible (and if we can't, Google sure can), a little different in wording perhaps, but that captures the essence of that idea better, by going further than the Old Testament had gone. And what's more interesting is that we know for sure Rhett was familiar with it. Here it is, the entire fragment from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 27 ), with the relevant sentence highlighted:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."
And if we convert a small fragment of this to King James' English--"And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee"--it starts to sound awfully familiar, doesn't it?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Doppelganger Dresses, Part 1: The Shantytown Dress

As we promised earlier, it's time to kick off our new series, Doppelganger Dresses, highlighting real dresses from period fashion plates that closely resemble the costumes of Gone with the Wind

Our first dress is the Shantytown dress and to get things started, we've found two dresses that match up nicely with it. You can find the two fashion plates, along with several movie screenshots and the original sketch from costume designer Walter Plunkett for comparison after the jump. The first plate is dated 1866 and taken from a beautifully illustrated book of fashion history called Dame Fashion: Paris-London, 1786-1912, published in 1913 and filled with authentic fashion plates from the time span in question. The second plate is dated as 1865-1870 and comes from another lovely old book, The History of Fashion in France, published in 1882. 

While the two dresses posted here are the closest ones I have seen to the GWTW costume, the general style (light grey/blue dress with dark decorative detailing) seems to have been a tremendously popular one in the mid 1860s. I've spotted at least a half dozen dresses in period fashion plates that generally look like the Shantytown dress. So it's not surprising at all that this style became part of Scarlett's wardrobe.

Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments- do the dresses look like the Shantytown dress to you too?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Poster of the Week

Call it the staircase poster before the staircase poster. This image of Rhett carrying away a swooning Scarlett, seen here on a 14x22 poster from 1941, was a highly prevalent one in GWTW poster art from its inception as part of the movie's 1941 ad campaign through the early 1960s. 

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit this might be my least favorite GWTW poster ever. Scarlett looks passed out and Rhett is sporting one hell of a creepy leer. Not adding to the poster's general sense of class? The tag line "Rhett takes Scarlett in his arms!" That's fine, of course- I just rather prefer to imagine she was conscious for it. So, yeah, I'd even take the Polish love fans poster of this one here!

Image from Poster information cited from Herb Bridges' "Frankly My Dear..."


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Talented Mr. Plunkett and the Costumes of Gone with the Wind

Walter Plunkett. Image from the Harry Ransom Center.
Excellent news for us Windies! Yesterday the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin announced that it had achieved its goal of raising $30,000 to preserve five of the original costumes worn by Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind, including the iconic green drapery and red party dresses. And what better way for us to celebrate than to tip our hat in tribute to the man behind the dresses, legendary costume designer Walter Plunkett

Given that our blog's header features no less than four of his GWTW sketches, it's probably no surprise to you that we're rather fond of Mr. Plunkett and his costumes around here. After all, Gone with the Wind simply wouldn't be the movie we all know and love without Plunkett's inspired work on costumes for everyone from Scarlett and Rhett on down. So today we're pleased to give Walter Plunkett his due with an exploration of his work, his legacy and of course his instrumental role in GWTW--complete with a slideshow of 53 of his original sketches.  

An Oakland, California native born in 1902, Walter Plunkett abandoned his law studies to begin first his Broadway and then his Hollywood career as a movie extra in the mid 1920s, before making the shift to costume design. His first credited costume design role came in 1927 for Hard-Boiled Haggerty by RKO Studios, where he served as the Head of the Wardrobe Department. There, Plunkett was given a great degree of latitude in his costume design and his star quickly rose within the industry. By the mid 1930s, he was already considered to be Hollywood's leading expert on historical costume, thanks to his work on several period films starring Katharine Hepburn.  It was in fact Hepburn who encouraged Plunkett to read Gone with the Wind. The rest, as they say, is history...

Plunkett read GWTW and was so captivated by the story that he immediately called his agents to request the job of costume designer on the film.  Selznick knew of and admired Plunkett's costumes from having worked with him on Little Women, and hired the designer on the spot. 

And in Plunkett, Selznick got an employee who shared his fanatical attention to detail--because meticulous is the only true way to describe Walter Plunkett's approach to costume design on GWTW. He read the book multiple times, checked and cross-checked every passage related to fashion, and put together a notation book of 200 pages(!) with quotes about costumes. 

Then he went to Atlanta to meet Margaret Mitchell, who provided him with several books for research and introduced him to fellow Atlanta ladies in possession of 1860-70s era clothing. While in Atlanta, MM also gave Plunkett a blessing of sorts: her permission to change the color of Scarlett's dresses, as in the book the dashing Miss O'Hara's wardrobe is almost exclusively green (Margaret Mitchell's favorite color). From Atlanta, Plunkett embarked on a tour of the museums of the South to gather more research and fabric samples, with stops in Charleston, Savannah, New Orleans and the Smithsonian Institute. 

Then, at last, he started to design. But after a first round of sketches, it seemed that, though his meticulous research was perfect for garbing all the roles that made the background of the movie, Plunkett did not have what it took for the dramatic flair of Scarlett's wardrobe, as envisioned by Selznick. "We will need somebody to give us perhaps half a dozen sensational costumes that will need to be original creations in addition to the Plunkett job - if it is Plunkett - which will be based largely on research," said the producer in a memo from February 1938. The favorite for this position seemed to be New York designer Muriel King whose sketch for a Scarlett costume had gained Margaret Mitchell's enthusiastic consent. 

But by January of 1939, as a Selznick memo noted, "Plunkett has come to life and turned in magnificent Scarlett costumes so we won't need anyone else." With this, the designer was given free reign with all the costumes.  The final sum of his work when all was done? 5,500 wardrobe items for a cost of $153,818 and a laundry bill of $10,000. A staggering output by any stretch of the imagination--not to mention one that includes some of the most memorable costumes to have ever graced the silver screen.  If the category existed back in 1939, Plunkett would have definitely won an Oscar for Best Costume Design. As it was, he won the prize for An American in Paris in 1951, and was nominated 9 other times.

Today, Walter Plunkett is widely remembered as one of the legends of cinematic costume design, largely due to his work on Gone with the Wind, though his record with other productions is impressive as well. Interestingly, though, there are some, like costume designer Frances Tempest, who dispute his reputation for exacting historical accuracy:
"A film always reflects the time when it is made regardless of when the story is set. This is unconscious and only becomes apparent after, say, ten years hindsight. Even when creating a faithful, historically accurate, reproduction of a particular era, after a few years the film will obviously belong to the 1970s, 1980s or whenever it was made. So GWTW belongs to 1939 and is in the tradition of other 30s historical dramas such as Little Women. To our eyes these films look ‘very 1930s’. I am sure the film-makers thought they were accurately reproducing 19th-century society. With Europe on the brink of war GWTW creates a fantasy Deep South. Walter Plunkett has tapped into the zeitgeist, and mined a rich vein of nostalgia, to a world that never actually existed. "
--remarks by Frances Tempest, excerpted from Fashion, Media, Promotion: The New Black Magic By Jayne Sheridan
We don't deny the idea that films reflect the time period in which they are made, or that GWTW is in many ways a product of 1930s-era Hollywood glamour (it's the poster child for that, after all). However, we do take issue with the last claim that Plunkett created a vision of "a world that never actually existed." In fact, our own research has turned up just the opposite--Plunkett's costumes were incredibly grounded in period fashion, so much so that it can be quite eerie at times to find a Plunkett dress staring at you from an issue of Godey's Lady's Book

And to that end, we're taking this opportunity to announce a new series, Doppelganger Dresses, where we'll highlight real dresses from period fashion plates that bear close resemblance to the costumes of Gone with the Wind. Stay tuned... our first Doppelganger dress will be up later this week. And for now? Enjoy a lovely GWTW slideshow, of course! 

For more info on GWTW costumes, be sure to check out the invaluable Harry Ransom GWTW online costume exhibition and its Walter Plunkett page, which includes costume-related correspondence from the making of GWTW. 

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