‘Gone With the Wind’ returning to theaters for 80th anniversary – but reception may be mixed

“Gone With the Wind,” one of Hollywood’s most beloved – and most controversial – films of all time will be returning to big screens across the country later this month in celebration of its 80th anniversary.

The 1939 film, based on Margaret Mitchell’s widely popular novel of the same name, tells the story of young Scarlett O’Hara, who struggles, and schemes, to maintain possession of her family’s property amid Civil War devastation.

In the film, Scarlett is famously played by British actress Vivien Leigh, while her primary love interest, Rhett Butler, is played by Clark Gable.

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The film has legions of fans, many of whom can recite much of the dialogue from memory after multiple viewings.

But there are also many who oppose the film for what they have described as racially “insensitive” content, meaning its depictions of blacks as subservient and often cartoonish slaves. Others object to what they argue is an overly favorable depiction of the Confederacy in general.

In 2017, a theater in Memphis, Tenn., shortened its annual run of screenings of the film in response to feedback from some members of the public.

“As an organization whose stated mission is to ‘entertain, educate and enlighten the communities it serves,’ the Orpheum cannot show a film that is insensitive to a large segment of its local population,” Brett Batterson, president of the city’s Orpheum theater, said at the time.

But the cancellation also drew backlash. Soon afterward, Terry Lynn Crane, widow of “GWTW” actor Fred Crane, said she was outraged when the Memphis theater opted not to complete its screenings of the film for its fans.

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"By making a statement, they are trying to make a problem," Crane told Fox News at the time. "They are inciting racial division and it's only escalating.”

"I think he would be very saddened by all of this," Crane said of her husband, who played Brent Tarleton, one of Scarlett’s suitors, in the film.

This year’s screenings of “Gone With the Wind” are scheduled for Feb. 28 through March 3. A full list of the participating theaters, plus dates and show times, can be found on the website of Fathom Events.