Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Oh Rhett...

Well, how about that. There’s going to be another take on Rhett Butler.

I don’t know, though… I mean, do we really need to see a “soft” side to Rhett? Do we really need the details of his life (abusive father, awful childhood blah blah), to see why he is what he is? Do we really have to see him march his every emotion out on parade, whine about his lot and so on? Me, I’m content to have him as the cynical-yet-ultimately-soft-hearted man created by Margaret Mitchell. It’s easy enough to imagine a past for him without rewriting The Book (yes, it deserves capital letters, it’s that sort of classic) from a point of view that I'm certain will end up whiny.

I read Gone With The Wind before I saw the movie. Actually I'd read it several times before I picked up the 2-video set from Tic Tac Videos in Chennai. I cant actually remember with whom I watched it, but I have a vague idea that it was my best friend from college. The reason everything else is vague about that movie experience is the one overriding memory that has been burned into my brain – the utter, total, devastating disappointment that Clark Gable had played Rhett Butler. That middle-aged man (I was a teenager then and he really did seem old to me!), with his Halloween pumpkin head, stick-out ears and Halloween-pumpkin crooked teeth… how could HE be the Rhett Butler of my dreams? Not even his dimples mitigated my disappointment – and I’m usually a sucker for those. I hated him wholeheartedly for years, taking the side of Vivien Leigh who had disliked her co-star enough that she chewed garlic every time before a kissing shot with him!

I didn’t know then and I still don’t know who would have been the ideal Rhett Butler. And now I’ve watched the movie enough times that I’ve gradually been able to accept Clark Gable as Rhett. I just hope nobody tries to re-make that movie.

The other thing I hated about the movie was that large chunks of the book had been left out… but in hindsight and with numbum* experience, I guess that wasn’t such a bad thing or the movie would probably been 14 hours long rather than 4.

No, I haven’t read the rewritten Rhett-as-New-Age-Man version… yet. If I do read it, it will be only to prove to myself – unnecessarily, yes – that nobody can rewrite perfection. Pretty much like I skimmed through Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett”… and what appalling crap that was!

*numbum = that deadened feeling you experience in your hindquarters when you’ve been sitting too long in a movie theatre


Anonymous said...

Aaaargh, can't make up my mind if I should read the book or not. Yes, a lot of Rhett's charm was his 'mystery'. Take that away and RB= just Clark Gable.
Yeah, that was you and me who were totally disppointed in CG and in the movie itself. He was nothing like RB, but I understand that at the time the movie was made, there was so much pressure on the producers to use CG as RB. He was considered 'the one'.
I did read the news article you linked your post to and Rhett sounds so un-Rhettish!
*Sigh* curiosity killed the cat and I guess I'll end up reading this one too, and regret havind done so. As was the case with 'Scarlett'!!!

CW said...

Tic Tac?! You weren't living in Mandaveli were you?

brinda said...

Clark Gable IS Rhett Butler. EOM.
and frankly, my deah, i don't give a damn about his New Age version... :-)

Anonymous said...

gee: Yep, totally not Rhett. Very unlikable just from the sound of him.

CW: Nope, Abhiramapuram :) C P Ramaswamy Iyer Street (not Road, to be precise.

Brin: yes, i've reluctantly come to accept that CG is Rhett...

- Shyam

Shruthi said...

Ah Rhett! I read the book first too. Twice. CG wasn't that much of a disappointment. Only that the day before the movie was aired, someone told me that CG had bad breath, so everytime he kissed Scarlett, I would go "ugh" - and I thought those would be magic moments! Hmph.

meerkat said...

i thought clark gable was the very embodiment of rhett butler i thought he looked handsome in that old american type, all smoking, drinking yes ma'am kind of way.

loved the book and it was fun to see the movie. recently the movie was on tv and i tried to get my hubby to sit and watch it. he was bored very quickly with that over the top colour (technicolour) visuals. then he realised that it was more than 4 hours long, then there was no chance at all.
i felt that the movie was very dated. clark gable was ok but it was interesting watching vivien leigh now that i had seen a biography of hers. how she had fought very hard to get this part and her subsequent mental breakdown later in life.

i even read the sequel,called scarlett when i was really bored. it was dreadful the first book was and is still excellent. not sure about the movie. dont think i can take a third viewing.

Anonymous said...

I've read the books ( GWTW and RB's P) and watched the film.

I think Sir Trevor Nunn (Les Miserables, Cats) has chosen a fantastic Rhett for his new musical adaptation of Gone With the Wind, opening in London's West End in April.

Darius Danesh is 6ft 4, young (27), and handsome and he has Rhett's black hair and eyes and dark complexion because he's Half Scottish and half Iranian. Darius has previously played two other roguish charmers , Billy Flynn in Chicago and Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls.