There are just a few years that will always be remembered in Oscar history, either because one film so thoroughly dominated those awards, or because another film didn’t. Gone with the Wind was the kind of film that Oscar seemed to be made for. That film swept the Oscars 75 years ago.
In many ways, Gone with the Wind is such a great film. The central role of Scarlett is the kind we just don’t see anymore — such a richly drawn character with vibrancy, a complicated woman who is both good and bad, but mostly bad. Women are never at the heart of historical epics anymore. We have Sandra Bullock in Gravity now, and despite how nice and likable she is, her mere presence in the film at all seems controversial, can you imagine today’s audiences trying to make sense of Scarlett?
What we remember about Gone with the Wind was that it starred the unequivocal Vivien Leigh. Clark Gable as Rhett. Hattie McDaniel as Mammy. We remember the famous story to find the perfect Scarlett — how many actresses auditioned for the role and failed, and how one English actress managed to nail it. Leigh would later revive the role, of sorts to play a fading southern belle in A Streetcar Named Desire. Those two performances remain among the best ever.