Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
Movie fans, remember a time when the only "F-word" was "fiddle-dee-dee"?
That question comes to mind as I see December 15 and the 75th anniversary of the world premiere of "Gone With The Wind" approaching.
I have so many fond memories of November 1976 and NBC's much-hyped two-night network television premiere of the Technicolor masterpiece.
I remember my mother telling about watching the 1947 re-release of the film at the appropriately named Dixie Theater in Lewisburg, Tennessee.
I remember getting confused over Red Buttons (comic actor) and Rhett Butler ("GWTW" character).
I remember my boss's wife glibly dismissing someone's concerns about some subject with "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a hydroelectric dam."
I remember gushing to convenience market customer Woodrow Helmick that I was going to watch the film that night, and being incredulous that "Gone With The Wind" didn't ring a bell with him, even though he was an adult when Leigh and Gable were working their magic. ("What is that — a Disney film?")
I actually remember one of the high-priced commercials from the broadcast. (A pizza chain was touting its "new deli pizza," causing a bewildered turbaned fellow to ask, "Did someone say 'New Delhi'???")
I remember being told by junior English teacher Mrs. Jones that I couldn't write a book report on Margaret Mitchell's 1936 "GWTW" novel because it wasn't a "classic." Maybe she would have thought more highly of it if Ashley Wilkes had harpooned a Great White Carpetbagger, or if Prissy had hornswoggled Gen. Sherman into whitewashing a fence instead of burning Atlanta?
I remember swelling with pride as the broadcast broke Nielsen rating records — and wincing a few months later when ABC's "Roots" eclipsed it.
I don't really remember making a deliberate decision to add it, but "Tara's Theme" joined the "M*A*S*H" theme and other ditties as a tune I still catch myself whistling.
I'm glad the film set such box office records and garnered so many awards, but I wait with bated breath to see if new generations will embrace my favorite film or wonder "What's the big deal?"
Would "GWTW" really be better if it had all the bells and whistles of modern films? Would it be improved by the addition of a subtitle ("GWTW: The Julep Awakens"), a hip hop soundtrack, computer-generated special effects that add umpteen extra wounded soldiers to the gut-wrenching battle aftermath scene or trendy lines such as "As God is my witness, I'll never be a man trapped in a woman's body again?"
"GWTW" can certainly be faulted for its sanitized, romanticized version of the antebellum South (although we Southerners have always taken a perverse pride in the fact that for once a "loser" got to write the "history"), but the passion of its story should resonate for years to come.
(Yep, the passion of Rhett sweeping Scarlett into his arms and carrying her up the staircase still inspires many a male, as in "Honey, I'm really comfortable here on the sofa. Could you fetch the —yawn—remote so I can rewind that scene?")
That's right: don't let anyone take this film for granted. People should still be honoring it in another 75 years -- even without a blooper reel at the end. ("After all, Tuesday after next is another day. No, wait—TOMORROW is another day. Let me try that again!")
©2014 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's' weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.