Skip to main content Skip to footer site map
Flannery | Clip

Why did Flannery O’Connor detest “Gone with the Wind”?

SHARE

The Atlanta premiere of “Gone with the Wind” in 1939 was an historic event for many in Georgia. Everyone had “Gone with the Wind” fever, it seemed, except for Flannery O’Connor who, as a 14 year old, reportedly “couldn’t stand” the romanticized, Hollywood version of the old South. In response, she later wrote a short story mocking the excitement over the film.

TRANSCRIPT

(fanfare) (stirring brass music) [Announcer] - Gala days in Dixie, bring Hollywood to Atlanta for a history- making world premiere of the motion picture epic 'Gone With the Wind'. - She had to, you know, face Regina at the dinner table, who was still waiting for her to come out with 'Gone With the Wind', too!

- And this is Margaret Mitchell's night, and the people of Atlanta's night.

- What you up to with Miss Ellen's portières?

- You're gonna make me a new dress!

- Not with Miss Ellen's portières, not while I got breath in my... - This romanticized, Hollywood Technicolor version of the Old South, everybody had 'Gone With the Wind' following them around like a cloud.

- Flannery O'Connor took a very critical view of the 'Gone With the Wind' hoopla.

- From what I understand, she couldn't stand that movie when she was 14.

[Announcer] - 2,000 privileged guests attend the actual premiere.

Atlanta's few remaining boys in gray are guests of honor.

[Matthew] - O'Connor took this little detail, four Confederate veterans, who were paraded in front of the podium, and built a story on that.

'A Late Encounter With the Enemy' is a devilish mocking of all the excitement over 'Gone With the Wind', in which this 100-year-old plus, Civil War veteran, who's so enjoyed all the attention, at the 'Gone With the Wind' premiere.

(whooping) The old man not only enjoys the attention, but especially enjoys being guided by these beautiful young women, then have to endure his 60-something-year old granddaughter's school graduation, because his granddaughter insists on it, because she herself has social ambitions, and she wants to prove to everyone that she's of strong southern stock.

[Karin] - Flannery was very much exploding American self-righteousness, using what white people romantically adored, southern belle, Scarlett O'Hara.

- And now that I'm here, it feels, well, just as if I were coming home.

- She goes to the heart of the American soul, which is, we want to be liked, we want to do what we do, but then we also want to be liked about it.

It's kind of evil.

It's just plain, diva evil.

(slow piano music)

© 2021 WNET. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.