Guest post by Jamie Rhein:
I am a movie junkie. In college, a friend once called me Tom from the character in the Glass Menagerie who escaped life each night by heading to a theater. I get that.
Honestly, it’s the pleasure of watching the craft of a wonderful movie through the lens of an enormous screen that pulls me in. One movie that has pulled me in over and over is Gone with the Wind. Although the story sugarcoats the antebellum South, the movie rates as one that deserves its spot on the all time classics list.
So, when I was at a cousin’s daughter’s wedding near Atlanta and found out we were staying just minutes from the Gone with the Wind Museum in Marietta, Georgia and had time between wedding hoopla, I talked another cousin into going with me. The Gone with the Wind Museum was much more than than I anticipated. For anyone who is a movie and literature buff and interested in how popular culture reflects and forms history, this museum is the perfect way to spend an hour or two.
In the midst of exhibits that include items used in the movie including the silk, ivory Bengaline gown worn by Vivien Leigh, were displays about Gone With the Wind’s cultural reach and controversy–most specifically how African American actors were treated in 1939. Not well.
There’s the telegram film producer David O Selznick received the night before the premier saying that Hattie McDaniel’s photo would be have to be removed from the program cover since black actors and white actors could not be shown together.
Other displays play homage to McDaniel’s work and accomplishments as the first African-American to win an Oscar. She won best-supporting actress for her portrayal as Mammy. A poster of the commemorative stamp honoring McDaniel in 2006 is part of this display.
Several shelves show just how much Gone With the Wind became a cultural powerhouse. Anyone who eyes the commercialism of current movies like the Star Wars franchise with a bit of alarm will see that Happy Meal toys are nothing new. Gone with the Wind love included board games, fabric patterns, dolls and Valentines.
Movie posters and copies of the novel in various languages show Gone With the Wind’s cultural reach.
Although most of the museum is about the movie, don’t speed by the exhibits about Margaret Mitchel, the author of the novel. Her background also tells a complex story, particularly how she was the anonymous benefactor of scholarships that sent several African American men to Morehouse College so they could earn their medical degrees in the 1940s.
For those who want to take a bit of Gone with the Wind movie culture home with them, the gift shop has costume reproductions at the top end. I bought a magnet.
If you have a couple of hours, hang out in the lobby to watch the movie where it plays in a loop. I caught the scene where Ashley and the men are contemplating going to war.
Here’s another bit of movie trivia I picked up. George Reeves who played Superman in several seasons of the Adventures of Superman TV show was one of the Tarleton Twins who had a hankering for Scarlet. I did pick him out despite the red hair.
If you do go, take time to enjoy the rest of Marietta. It’s an historic artsy town of gallery, shops and eateries situated around a town square.
Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein