Black SplatGone with the Wind (1939)

"Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn."

Gone with the Wind - Rhett leaves Scarlett for good

Description: Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in the motion picture adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind (1939).

"There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South... Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow... Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave... Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A Civilization gone with the wind..." - Movie Title Card

Rhett Butler is a handsome rouge and gambler who lives in the Old South before the days of the Civil War. Although a charming ladies man, he has a problem attracting the attention of a feisty Georgian Southern Belle named Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) who is the envy of the many eligible men in the region.

But, Scarlett has set her cap for Ashley Wilkes (Leslie howard), a soft-spoken, whisp of a man who lives at the nearby Twelve Oaks plantation. When she learns that Ashley is going to marry his cousin, Melanie Hamilton (Olivia de Havilland), she confronts Ashley, and demands, "Why don't you just say it, you coward? You're afraid to marry me. You'd rather live with that silly little fool who can't open her mouth except to say, 'yes' and 'no' and raise a passle of mealy-mouthed brats just like her!"

Gone with the Wind - Ashley Wilkes and Scarlett Ohara

Defensive, Ashley replies "You mustn't say things like that about Melanie." But Scarlett continues her rant, "Who are you to tell me I mustn't! You led me on! You made me believe you wanted to marry me!"

Denying her allegation, Ashley says, "Now, Scarlett be fair. I never at any time... " Scarlett interrupts shouting, "You did! It's true! You did! I'll hate till I die! I can't think of anything bad enough to call you!" Scarlet then slaps Ashley and, in spite, she marries Charles Hamilton, Melanie's, shy younger brother. Soon after, Charles dies from pneumonia and measles while serving in the Confederate Army.

Now a widow, Scarlett still harbors hope that she will one day have Ashley as her own. Meanwhile, Rhett Butler continues to pursue Scarlett's affections.

"I've always thought a good lashing with a buggy whip would benefit you immensely." - Rhett to Scarlett

Gone with the Wind - Rhett and Scarlett
Rhett: Open your eyes and look at me. No, I don't think I will kiss you. Although you need kissing badly. That's what's wrong with you. You should be kissed and often and by someone who knows how.
Scarlett: And I suppose you think you're the proper person.
Rhett: I might be... if the right moment ever came.
Scarlett: You're a conceited, blackhearted varmint Rhett Butler. I don't know why I let you come and see me.
Rhett: I'll tell you why, Scarlett. Because I'm the only man over sixteen and under sixty who's around to show you a good time.

When the North goes to war with the South, Rhett joins the resistance running the blockage up the river for the Confederacy, while Scarlett's life is overturned, her mansion at the Tara plantation is in decay and her hopes for a bright future are in question. but Scarlett, like Rhett, has a fierce spirit, and she cries to the heavens:

"As God is my witness, they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."

After the war, Scarlett decides to marry Rhett and she becomes the mistress of marvelous new home in Atlanta and the mother of a beautiful girl named Bonnie. But tragedy strikes when Scarlett suffers a miscarriage and then Bonnie falls off a pony that Rhett bought her and dies. Heartbroken, Rhett shoots the horse and then decides to leave Scarlett, because she still harbors feelings for Ashley Wilkes.

But when Ashley's wife dies, the grief expressed by Ashley lets her finally see that Melanie was his only true love. Rushing back to Rhett, Scarlett finds Rhett planning to leave for good. As she pleads, "Oh, my darling, if you go, what shall I do?" Rhett simply replies, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Scarlett: What are you doing?
Rhett: I'm leaving you, my dear. All you need now is a divorce and your dreams of Ashley can come true.
Scarlett: Oh, no! No, you're wrong, terribly wrong! I don't want a divorce. Oh Rhett, but I knew tonight, when I... when I knew I loved you, I ran home to tell you, oh darling, darling!
Rhett: Please don't go on with this, Leave us some dignity to remember out of our marriage. Spare us this last.
Scarlett: This last? Oh Rhett, do listen to me, I must have loved you for years, only I was such a stupid fool, I didn't know it. Please believe me, you must care! Melly said you did.
Rhett: I believe you. What about Ashley Wilkes?
Scarlett: I... I never really loved Ashley.
Rhett: You certainly gave a good imitation of it, up till this morning. No Scarlett, I tried everything. If you'd only met me half way, even when I came back from London.
Scarlett: I was so glad to see you. I was, Rhett, but you were so nasty.
Rhett: And then when you were sick, it was all my fault... I hoped against hope that you'd call for me, but you didn't.
Scarlett: I wanted you. I wanted you desperately but I didn't think you wanted me.
Rhett: It seems we've been at cross purposes, doesn't it? But it's no use now. As long as there was Bonnie, there was a chance that we might be happy. I liked to think that Bonnie was you, a little girl again, before the war, and poverty had done things to you. She was so like you, and I could pet her, and spoil her, as I wanted to spoil you. But when she went, she took everything.
Scarlett: Oh, Rhett, Rhett please don't say that. I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry for everything.
Rhett: My darling, you're such a child. You think that by saying, "I'm sorry," all the past can be corrected. Here, take my handkerchief. Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief.
Scarlett: Rhett! Rhett, where are you going?
Rhett: I'm going back to Charleston, back where I belong.
Scarlett: Please, please take me with you!
Rhett: No, I'm through with everything here. I want peace. I want to see if somewhere there isn't something left in life of charm and grace. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Scarlett: No! I only know that I love you.
Rhett: That's your misfortune. [Rhett turns to walk down the stairs]
Scarlett: Oh, Rhett! [Rhett walks to the door] Rhett! [Scarlett runs down the stairs after Rhett] Rhett, Rhett! [Rhett goes out the front door] Rhett... if you go, where shall I go, what shall I do?
Rhett: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

As Rhett walks away in the fog, Scarlett is beside herself in grief, but then she arrives at a solution that will calm her woes: "Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all...tomorrow is another day."

Note: When the film was produced, the use of the word “damn” was a no-no according to the movie industry’s code of ethics board (known as the Hays Office) and consequently, the maker’s of GWTW were fined $5,000 for using the ‘D’ word.

Over the years, this famous kiss-off line has been a favorite of nightclub impressionists (who sometimes change it slightly to “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn”).

Gone with the Wind - Movie Poster

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