Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh (1939, Warner)

By EW Staff
Updated January 05, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, ...
Credit: Gone With the Wind: Everett Collection

Why YOU say ”Gone With the Wind” is a top tearjerker

Her beloved Ashley has married cousin Melanie, the Yankees have burned her precious Tara estate to the ground, and her family’s Confederate fortune is worthless. But as God is her witness, Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara (Leigh) survives the Civil War through sheer pluck — only to drive away the true love of her life, third husband Rhett Butler (Gable), through pure spoiled-brattiness.

KLEENEX MOMENT Which is why we don’t cry for Scarlett (Come on! She had it coming!), but for her dashing, reformed scoundrel of a spouse who, after realizing she’ll never love him, utters his legendary ”Frankly, my dear” and leaves her, his heart broken for the last time.

WHY WE TEAR-JERKED IT Yes, David O. Selznick’s four-hour melodrama won 10 Oscars back in 1940 and, to many, will always be the romantic epic of the 20th century. But today, we find it hard to weep for a long-defunct, slavery-supporting South.

Gone With the Wind

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