Scarlett (1994)

You dare to ask “Scarlett who?”

There is only one, Scarlett O’Hara, and you know it! 

But, unfortunately, she’s not confined to “Gone With the Wind,” where she belongs (let’s not start on the 1970s musical adaptation that played Tokyo and London before attempting Broadway, but closed during its try-out).  In the 1980s, a massive publicity stunt had Alexandra Ripley chosen to write the sequel to “Gone With the Wind,” but when the book came out in 1991, it was met with critical dismissal (read the reviews, they are pretty damn funny).  However, the book was a giant hit and therefore Hollywood came a-callin’. 

To be honest, even though “Scarlett” is trash, and even though it’s an offense to “Gone With the Wind,” it should be perfect for a miniseries.  Okay, it takes place after the Civil War, but we know how much the miniseries loved that period in general.  It’s a big opulent costume drama that needs lavish attention and lots of hours and it is chock-full of scenery-chewing parts for slumming actors (and this one has a limitless well of them).  Plotwise, the whole thing lumbers between having none and lurching into serious overdrive, but it’s not at all surprising that it was destined for a miniseries.  In fact, “Scarlett” is really one of the absolute last gasps of the network format.  There would be a few other entries in the 90s and beyond, but if one sees “Scarlett” as the end of it all, I can’t blame you.  By this point, there were apparently no good books left to film (except the classics, which were still being regularly filmed in the UK), few chilling crime tales left to tell.  Everything has seemingly been done and had imitators.  “Scarlett” was too popular a property not to film, but after that, it would be rare that the networks would indulge in the miniseries format, usually just for Stephen King or the occasional larger-than-life true story.  Attention spans grew shorter and competition from cable too difficult for the networks to devote hours and hours to one expensive movie.  Thus, cable took over and network television was left with shorter “movies of the week” until they too disappeared and cheap quick reality shows would dominate the network offerings.

It’s not the fault of “Scarlett” that the network miniseries died out.  It was on its last legs anyway, but something this rococo tripe surely couldn’t have helped!

(I will use the fictional names of the characters here since many of them are more familiar than the actors playing them.)

The movie begins in Atlanta, 1873, the funeral of Melanie Wilkes.  Scarlett (Joanne Whalley), showing up late and saying to herself, “soon this awful day will be over and I can go home to Tara,” is not met with welcoming eyes by the mourners.  Ashley (Stephen Collins) is overcome as they lower the coffin and Scarlett rushes to him, only to be chased off by his hissing family, so she goes to the grave over her daughter, buried nearby. 

Uncle Henry Hamilton (George Grizzard) comes to visit a lonely drinking Scarlett, giving her a chance to complain about the behavior of those at the funeral.  He’s also there to offer advice, since “feelings are running high against you here in Atlanta” since it was town opinion that she was chasing after Ashley.  He thinks perhaps she should go away for a while.  “You got the tar and the feathers?” she yells, offended at the very thought of it.  He’s also kindly enough to wish her the best after the “sorrowful end” of her relationship with Rhett.  “It was sorrowful, but whether it’s the end or not remains to be seen,” she scowls. 

However, Scarlett follows Uncle Henry’s advice and goes to visit her sister Suellen (Melissa Leo) and brother-in-law Will (Ray McKinnon).  He warns her to be nice to her sister and she carps “fiddle-dee-dee…I’m not one to hold a grudge.”  When she gets to Tara, she’s aghast at the ramshackle sight.  Suellen, pregnant for the third time, is in no mood for Scarlett’s fake friendliness and asks why she’s even bothered coming.  “To see Mammy, of course.” 

About 150 years old by this point, Mammy (Esther Rolle) is “ready to lay down her earthly burdens,” dying in bed.  Naturally, Scarlett can turn any moment around to herself.  Mammy says Scarlett doesn’t need to say she loves her because “I already know.”  Not good enough.  Scarlett didn’t tell Melanie or Rhett and they are now gone.  Scarlett dashes off a telegram to Rhett begging him to come to Tara to say goodbye to Mammy.

Dinner is a high-octane row.  Scarlett complains about the dreariness of the place, and though Suellen chides her for dressing so opulently, Scarlett has tried to send money, but Will refuses.  There’s even more good news.  Their other sister sold her third of Tara to the Catholic Church when she became a nun.  Suellen is still bitter that Scarlett married Frank Kennedy, but Scarlett sees it differently.  “If you knew what man Frank Kennedy turned out to be, you’d be thanking me!” she yells.  After Suellen gets a few good digs in (and reminds us of Scarlett’s marital history), Scarlett yaps, “I guess [our sister] is the only saint in this family.  I obviously do not qualify!” and storms out of the dining room. 

As for Rhett Butler (Timothy Dalton, who was part of the onset of the miniseries in “Centennial”), he’s doing card tricks over at Belle Watling’s place as Belle (Ann-Margaret) looks on with a smile for her favorite.  One of the girls asks Rhett to repeat a card trick and he purrs, “if I was right, I win.”  “What do you win?” she asks.  “How many guesses do you need?” Belle replies.  At least smooth-talking Rhett never changes.  As soon as he gets the telegram, he rushes off to Tara.

After Suellen looks him up and down and gets in some smart-ass remarks about how well Rhett has done while the South languishes, Rhett says he had to come as soon as he saw Will’s telegram about Mammy.  Yup, Scarlett used Will’s name to lure him there.  Even Ripley’s awful writing can’t diminish two fictional legends (though she tried hard and the miniseries tries just as hard).  Mammy asks Rhett to make sure she’s buried in the red petticoat he bought her.  She has a second favor to ask.  “I want you to take care of Miss Scarlett.  She needs carin’ so bad,” Mammy asks and Rhett promises.  And with that, Mammy dies a perfect miniseries death, surrounded by lighting and music as her hand falls limp to the sheets. 

Awkward!  That’s the only way to describe the reunion of Rhett and Scarlett, who poo-poos the lie and tells Rhett she’s hoping for “civilized and courteous conversation,” no matter how “estranged” they are.  With euphemisms, Scarlett is a champ!  That approach gets her nowhere, so she tries another: “do you think it would have been different if my child have survived?”  Nope, he’s still not biting.  How about full-on guilt for lying to Mammy?  “You are such a child, Scarlett,” he finally snaps.  DUH!  Since she won’t divorce him, he agrees to be around just enough for appearances.  “The Yankees should have hung you when they had the chance,” she howls throwing a glass at him. 

If Scarlett is feeling sorry for herself, Ashley is doing even worse, but that’s no shock.  He’s never been the strongest type and this time has crawled into a bottle.  Scarlett gives him tough love.  “It this want you Melanie to see when she looks down from heaven?” and then grabs his hand so they can have tea.  A while later Uncle Henry comes to tell Scarlett that “you have one of the greatest business minds I’ve ever seen, despite the fact that you’re a woman” because she sold off her lumber company to Ashley and it’s tanking; Ashley is broke.  The Panic of 1973 (not that Uncle Henry uses those terms) has hit and no one is building, so no one needs lumber.  Scarlett does manage to ask if her money is safe and it is.  She has a plan.  “Who is the best builder in Atlanta?” “I guess you could do worse than Big Sam,” he says.  “Our Big Sam?  Our foreman from Tara?” “Former foreman…have you ever heard of Lincoln?” Uncle Henry asks, exasperated.

Big Sam (Paul Winfield) “did prosper” and Scarlett offers him the chance to build 25 homes on vacant land, insisting Ashley supply the lumber and also remaining a silent partner.  Scarlett O’Hara, a silent anything?  Only because she ends a scene saying, “tomorrow is another day” is she at all recognizable in this sequence of events. 

Despite Reconstruction laying heavy punishment on the South, Atlanta’s giant masked ball is happening.  “I gather you’ve come alone, but it’s just not done in polite society,” Aunt Pittypat says, nearly choking on her words.  She has a good retort in that she “hasn’t seen much polite society here this evening” and she’s not alone because “God is always with me.”  That’s even more vulgar than showing up alone to someone like Aunt Pittypat, but before we can get her reaction, Ashley comes to sweep her into a dance.  A perfectly good line wasted by bad direction. 

When Rhett shows up, things crackle a bit.  He introduces himself to her as Blackbeard.  “Bluebeard might be more like it,” she drawls and asks if he recognized her.  “I didn’t need to find the most ostentatious gown in the room to find out who was under it,” he says.  I know, I know.  They did this all back in “Gone With the Wind.”  But, the only reason this sequel exists is to remind us what once was (and apparently showing a rerun was, what, bad business?).  Rhett agrees to go back to the house for the sake of propriety, but once inside, jumps up the red staircase to his room.  Scarlett grabs a bottle of liquor to her bed.

The next morning, loyal Pansy (Rakie Ayola) brings her coffee and advice that she’s “doing herself real harm” by drinking like she does.  Pansy is suddenly the smartest person in Atlanta and could be its first member of AA.  Scarlett decides to go visit Charleston.

To meet her at the train station are Aunt Eulalie (Elizabeth Wilson) and Aunt Pauline (Barbara Barrie).  Unfortunately, they tell her that Rhett’s mother Eleanor (Julie Harris) has insisted she stay there, rather than with her clucking aunts.  I’m not sure which is worse.  Scarlett is horrified.  Mrs. Butler invites Scarlett to attend a meeting where they make crafts to raise money for the Widows and Orphans Fund.  Tearing through the roads of Charleston and knocking out a few carriages doing it is Sally Brewton (Jean Smart), smoking a cigarette and barking at Scarlett, “who is that?  A new recruit for our disgustingly worthy cause?” 

Just as Sally is talking about growing up with Rhett, he arrives from Philadelphia with his mother’s plundered tea set.  Sally jumps into his arms and then he finds Scarlett.  After pretending he’s unhappy, he drags Scarlett to her room and into another argument.  He says Charleston will see right through her attempts to pretend shes a lady and then rips apart her clothing trying to make it presentable.  Scarlett reminds him she’s descended from kings on the O’Hara side.  “Is it just the one king or many?” he quips and bounds out of the house as she’s yelling at him. 

“I want to look like a lady,” Scarlett tells her mother-in-law.  Miss Eleanor has to attack that one very wisely, so she fumbles a few sentences and then agrees that perhaps Scarlett’s “vitality” is too much for the bluestocking Charleston crowd.  First lessons, “you have no need of rouge on your face…and some of your clothes are ill-considered.”  From there, it’s off to the market where she encounters Sally and advises her on picking vegetables due to her experience in the fields (which, let’s be honest, wasn’t quite comprehensive).  “We need women like that in Charleston,” Sally tells Miss Eleanor. 

As a first step, Sally goes to see Rhett at his plantation and talks up Scarlett as an “amazing woman.”  However, though still in love with her, he thinks of her as childish and ridiculous.  Then Scarlett pays a visit where Rhett offers her $50,000 to agree to a divorce.  Then, speaking like two auctioneers, they agree to terms: basically that they will stay together for the season, he will pretend to be a husband, she will keep his “wicked ways” from everyone, she will never return to Charleston after the year.  She tries to seduce him, but it doesn’t work.  “A girl can’t have everything,” she says, happy enough for now that she’s made a sound business deal.  However, that night, Rhett goes to her room and spends a lot of time gazing at her lovingly.

If the action is going to switch to Charleston, and frankly, I don’t understand why it has to as Atlanta is still replete with good fun and characters, so is Belle.  In the indelicate words of one of her girls, “Belle’s opening up a whorehouse.”  This is going to make even pretending faithfulness to Scarlett a bit trickier for Rhett. 

Indeed they are.  One of Charleston’s grandest affairs is a race.  Everyone is there.  Oh, just in case you don’t realize it’s a race being done in the South, the helpful score does an oom-pah-pah version of “Camptown Races” as underscoring.  Subtle, “Scarlett” is not.  Rhett is quite comfortable introducing Belle to his mother and Scarlett and Scarlett, knowing exactly who she is, asks what brings to her Charleston.  When Miss Eleanor hears it’s business, she says she’s “fascinated by ladies with business interests, so very unusual, isn’t it.”  What kind of business?  “I arrange social get togethers,” she says, taking her leave with a zing meant for Scarlett’s understanding.  He wins.  “He sure can ride,” Lulie (Sara Crowe) chirps, which gets a knowing glance from Belle. 

There is another big ball, although it takes place for only about four minutes, which is as long as any large set piece here is (those big events are where much usually takes place, but there isn’t any plot so far in “Scarlett,” so there is nothing to move forward).  However, at the end, Rhett reminds Scarlett it’s the “last” ball of the season and Scarlett, as always, says she doesn’t want to discuss the deal between them that is now finished.  “We’ll talk about it tomorrow.” 

If you thought “Camptown Races” was lacking in finesse, how about when Rhett agrees to take Scarlett sailing…both still in their ball gown attire!  Just as Scarlett says, “I’ve never had so much fun in my life…more of less,” with a lecherous twang, we see storm clouds overhead.  It’s a gigantic storm that capsizes the boat.  He somehow gets Scarlett to a seaside, begging his unconscious wife, “don’t die on me.”  Naturally, he has to remove all of her clothing, and his, lighting a warm fire as well.  That’s a very nice set-up for when she opens her eyes, now isn’t it? 

“What happened, it was, uh, a celebration,” Rhett tells Scarlett, but Scarlett isn’t buying it.  “It was your true heart.  You love me, you love me, you love me!” 

She then sleeps for 24 hours and wakes up to Miss Eleanor fumbling for any excuse not to tell her Rhett is gone, finally leaving Scarlett with a Dear Jane note.  He admits he loves her, but that it was “ill-advised” and he can “never see her again.”  Ever.  As in permanently. 

Evenings of whiskey at the fireplace are finally relieved when Ashley comes to Charleston on a visit.  He has some photographs to show her and she volunteers to go to his room to see them.  He doesn’t think that’s wise, but a fiddle-dee-dee later, she’s on her way up, with everyone, of course, wondering at her brazen behavior.  The photos are of the houses he’s been building with Big Sam.  “I do wish you would come back to Atlanta, very much,” he says before planting a kiss on her.  She hurries out of the room. 

Miss Eleanor is horrified to find out Scarlett was in a hotel room with a man!  Scarlett says she was only up there 10 minutes and “I’d need more time than that to get my shoes unlaced, let alone my corsets!”  Miss Eleanor is steadfast and tells Scarlett she’s no longer welcome.  “That suits me just fine because this is no longer a house in which I care to be welcome,” she replies with a slam of the door.  Slamming a second in her room, she dashes for a hidden bottle of booze stashes in a hat box.  “What have I done to myself?” she asks looking in the mirror?  “Is that cowardly disgusting creature Scarlett O’Hara?  No, it is certainly not.  Scarlett O’Hara does not drown in sorrows.  Scarlett O’Hara does not hide and wait for what she wants.  Scarlett O’Hara goes out and gets what she wants!  Coward, coward, coward!” she says, hurling the bottle at the mirror.  Not quite the “I will never go hungry again speech,” but I guess we’ll have to live with it.  Maybe now, some plot will kick in. 

As soon as Scarlett informs her aunts she will go to Savannah with them to visit her hated grandfather, she wakes up and vomits.  Never will you see a happier vomiter.  “We were always two pieces of a darling thing, my dear Rhett, now we are three” she says to herself.  So ends the first part on a Scarlett-with-a-plan.

Scarlett’s World Tour continues in Savannah for Grandfather Pierre Robillard’s birthday.  She is told to keep her “somewhat forthright manner” in check by her aunts, who have a habit of repeating each other’s sentences.  Scarlett finally has her meeting with her grandfather (John Gielgud, summing BIG TIME and sporting a ridiculous French accent).  She tells him she’s also in Savannah to attend to matters regarding Tara and to see her O’Hara relatives.  “Ah, the peasants!” he says.  “When my youngest and most cherished daughter wed herself Gerald O’Hara, there was no visible bottom to the pit of disastrous folly into which he flung both herself and the honorable name of Robillard,” he spits out, trying to make that bit of melodrama seem even a tad Shakespearean. 

Understandably, Scarlett dashes off to meet her O’Hara relatives, first running into Jamie (John Kavanaugh), who takes her home to his brood.  These humble folks are a delight, and she’s charmed.  They are a big family, not wealthy, but very close and accepting.  Not the Robillards, to be sure.  They even have a big night of Irish dancing right there in their parlor.  It’s all going so well until Scarlett faints.  She hasn’t told anyone she’s pregnant and therefore refuses all help from her Robillard aunts, who live to fuss over sick relatives.  She gives “my darling little indisposition” a very long monologue, so thankfully it isn’t fully grown in her to even have ears yet. 

While Scarlett is telling Maureen (Anita Reeves) the story of her life, her priest cousin (and arms dealer) Father Colum O’Hara (Colm Meany) all the way from Ireland and there are more smiles.  Back at the Robillard house, it’s clouded in darkness and a formal meal for her grandfather’s birthday.  He’s in a military outfit and grumpy as hell.  She announces that she will stay in Savannah when her aunts go, and somehow convinces her grandfather to let her stay, though he says, “it’s a matter of supreme indifference to me.” 

Scarlett drags Pansy to Sisters of Mercy, who own the third of Tara that she wants back.  There she has to square off against the Mother Superior (Betsy Blair).  She is told that only the Bishop can make the decision to swap Tara for cash (in the form of a donation, of course), but apparently the Mother Superior has a dog-eared copy of “Gone With the Wind” in her wimple because she asks Scarlett how she figures she can own Tara without Suellen’s agreement.  “I’ll just have to think about that tomorrow,” comes the predictable answer, the one that has ended way too many scenes already. 

Father Colum has no “influence” with the Bishop, who has turned down Scarlett’s request for Tara, but he does offer her another suggest, that he tell the foreman of the crew building the new church to slow down their work until the Bishop comes around.  “That’s blackmail!” Scarlett jumps, but she’s all for it.  “Family, it’s a grand thing,” Jamie toasts. 

In the “if it’s bad, it’s probably worse” sweepstakes, Scarlett comes up against a cropper.  Grandfather Robillard offers her his entire fortune if she stays in Savannah to take care of him and his “every comfort.”  Considering he hauled her out of bed to tell the cook his breakfast wasn’t hot enough, that could be a big problem.  However, he’s 94, so maybe it won’t be a long problem.  Initially, she turns it down, though $500K is worth reconsidering, but she says no.  “How dare you turn up your Papist peasant nose at the opportunity to be mistress of this great house and attendant to its master!” he says, going into spasms of alliteration.  Cue the divorce papers from Rhett and another swooning faint from Scarlett. 

It’s here that Ripley’s story becomes so unbelievable (I couldn’t resist) and so off-track, that it can never actually return.  Refusing to let Rhett know she’s pregnant, Scarlett decides in an instant to go to…IRELAND!  Margaret Mitchell infused every scene, every chapter, every line of “Gone With the Wind” with old-style Southern demeanor.  The original novel is about those people at that time in history and how they reacted to their rather small world being caught up in larger developments.  However, at no time did any of them even mention something as far off as Boston, let alone Ireland!  So, sending the story there makes as little sense as sending it to Shanghai or Cairo, except for the fact that there will be more O’Hara relatives wandering about.  Gone is Mitchell’s world.

“I never thought I’d live to see another place as gorgeous as Georgia, before the war across,” she tells Colum as they ride to the kin.  Along the way, they come across a hut being torn down because an English landlord has not been paid his rent.  Welcome to another Civil War, Scarlett, but this one won’t make a lick of sense to you if the one you lived through still hasn’t fully seeped in. 

It will, because we have dastardly Lord Richard Fenton to make it so.  He’s the English brute behind the evictions, and he’s so depraved, that he uses his Irish peasant girls for sexual gratification too evil to even be seen in a book he has. 

After Scarlett makes him promise to go along with her story of being a widow, so it won’t look bad when the baby comes (FYI, in the book “Gone With the Wind,” Scarlett has a few children, not just Bonnie, so it would be interesting to know where Ripley placed them, unless, of course, she never bothered to read the book and went straight to the movie), Colum shows her “the first Tara,” not just a millennium-old pile of rocks set amidst the green Irish landscape.  “This was Tara!” he says, with the music kicking in, though this Tara’s theme song is pretty wan.  Scarlett, suddenly able to root herself in something other than, well, herself, picks up a pile of dirt and sticks it in a little satin bag. 

In case you are wondering what happened to Rhett, he’s been squiring Miss Anne Hampton (Annabeth Gish) around, and only long into a blossoming courtship, does she reveal she’s the one who saw Scarlett go into the hotel room with Ashley.  Don’t be fooled by Anne’s delicacy.  “Weren’t you perfectly furious when you heard…” Rhett admits Scarlett is not conventional and neither is he.  “But she’s a woman,” Anne insists.  “So she is,” Rhett says with a broad smile.  This leads to a discussion of a woman’s “prerogative” and Rhett eventually coming to her room at night.  The Rhett Butler we know would not be at all attracted to this simple virgin. 

Scarlett goes to visit an abandoned castle that is seen as cursed by the locals when Lord Richard arrives.  Guessing she’s from the southern part of America, he offers his condolences on the war.  “We lost the war, sir, but we were not vanquished,” Scarlett insists, throwing his words back at him.  He does not tell her he owns the land.  He tells her the story of the house, built by an Englishman who helped peasants to get to America, though they all drowned on the way, the Englishman was killed and Irishmen followed in retribution.  Only then does he reveal himself to be the castle’s owner. 

The O’Haras are aghast at Scarlett “consorting” with Lord Fenton, but in typical Scarlett fashion, she says, she wants nothing to do with “politics.”  She launches into a tirade that covers both Ft. Sumter and General Lee “and I’ll have no more!”  Her uncle has a different take on it, calling it “human suffering.”  Suffocated, she decides to move to another simple shack, and now the atypical Scarlett returns, seemingly thrilled with the modest, okay, spare, okay, non-existent, furnishings. 

Scarlett buys Ballyhara and its land.  A town drunk lets everyone know, saying there is work for all getting it back in shape.  “Here’s to Scarlett O’Hara” they cheer as hoisting their pints in a pub.  Father Colum and his followers have decided she can help their cause.  The O’Haras are forced from their home until Scarlett pays the back rent and pulls down the apparatus they were about to use to knock it down.  Before departing for America, Colum tells Scarlett the Bishop in Savannah is ready to rethink his position on Tara.  He also hires Mrs. Fitzpatrick (Rosaleen Linehan) as housekeeper, who refers to her as “The O’Hara,” the new head of the O’Hara family “and all its branches.”  Oh, for crying out loud!  Scarlett has trouble making it to the head of the staircase, let alone the family.  Puffed up by this news, she decides to take Mrs. Fitzpatrick to the pub for lunch, where women are a rare thing indeed.  They hoot for her as if Liza walked into a gay bar.

Colum warns Scarlett about Halloween and sadistic Lord Fenton (who loves beating up his servant girls) seems to be enchanted by Scarlett, whom he offers to take to Dublin.  On rainy All Hallow’s Eve, Colum arrives with a letter from Charleston that Rhett has married Anne (he decided he had to after sleeping with her, though Belle told him it would ruin his reputation) and the horror of what she sees brings on labor.  Colum fetches the O’Hara women to help with the birth and they strap her to the kitchen table for a c-section, and a damn painful one.  On that note, we end the second part.

A year later, Scarlett is celebrating her daughter’s first birthday, though we’re reminded by Mrs. Fitzpatrick and others that Scarlett almost died giving birth.  Scarlett is introduced to Mary Boyle (Tina Kellegher), the very servant girl Lord Fenton has been beating and burning and whatnot.  As for Rhett, she tells Colum, “I’ll let him know when I’m ready,” about the baby.  Rhett is back home to celebrate his first anniversary to Anne.  He’s decided to take Anne to England and Ireland to buy horses. 

Lord Fenton is, in Scarlett’s words, “making advances” as he’s played suitor from far off way too long.  She is coy, but when he makes mention of the “State Ball,” you know she’ll go.  Scarlett never misses a ball, especially when the “Viceroy and his missus” will be there.  The Irish relatives and gun club pals are not happy at this budding relationship.  Colum finally tells Scarlett about the rebels and ties it to the South after the Civil War to get her to understand.  He shows her the gun collection and then the softer side of the rebellion, the education and help to the poor.  It’s even against the law to learn Irish.  “I might be better off if I didn’t understand a word of what you are saying,” Scarlett says cynically. 

Now, back to the real Scarlett, the one who says “fiddle-dee-dee,” she goes to an Irish horse show, where Colum assumes she’ll be swindled by the horse traders.  One is selling a three-year old, but Scarlett takes one look inside it’s mouth and declares, “I’ve got a grandfather younger than that!” 

Bing bang boom.  “Scarlett, you look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Colum says when…wait for it…Scarlett sees…wait for it (as if you didn’t know it was coming)…Rhett Butler at the very same obscure Irish horse sale!  “I have a seen a ghost, and one of my own making,” she replies.  Unafraid, Scarlett walks right over to him.  She asks if his wife is there and he says “she’s not generally fond of horses,” to which Scarlett quips, “I hope that’s her only failing.”  He tells Scarlett he wants a horse that will win the Kentucky Derby, “a new race” that they hope to be a big success.  Rhett introduces her to Sir John Morland (Brian Bedford) who invites her to a fox hunt.  Rhett is a bit annoyed when she says she’s “widowed.”  She begs him to go through with the lie and he says, “it won’t be easy pretending I’m a corpse.”  He even gets to Anne to agree to go along with it at the Morland fox hunt. 

Lady Morland (Delena Kidd) is the very personification of the English upper crust, down to the accent and the nose way high in the air.  Scarlett asks what happens if the fox gets away, a question that is anathema to her, so she turns away.  Trying to outrun Rhett, Scarlett is knocked from her horse by a branch (I thought for sure she would pull an Auntie Mame and catch the fox), only to wake up with Anne sitting by her side.  This is an uncomfortable reunion. Furthermore, Scarlett is humiliated, as “I haven’t been thrown from a horse since I was 10 years old.”  Scarlett is at his sugary nastiest best, and sweet Anne is no match for her.  And when Anne announces she’s pregnant, Scarlett is so upset the scene has to fade out because there are no words (or, apparently, good writers to make them up).

That was a nice bit of actual Scarlett O’Hara, but back in Ripley’s story, Scarlett is going to Dublin with Lord Fenton, telling Colum that it’s just for fun and so what if he’s English?  Hmmm, the Southern Belle we all knew would have played sick rather than have to attend a beloved ball with a Yankee, so her inability to care what her Irish kinfolk think is a bit out of character.  However, she corrects it by giving Colum a donation for the rebels, but for the good part, not the killing part.  And it’s a lot of money.  “I have a tendency to overdo things,” she admits. 

Another ball, but this is the grandest yet, with servants in powdered wigs and ladies in tiaras.  Scarlett looks ravishing in a fetching in a dress completely different from the others, to stand out, and is introduced as “Madam The O’Hara from Ballyhara.”  “I feel like Cinderella,” Scarlett says innocently, before she and Lord Fenton turn it into a ghastly series of puns that knocks all the stuffing out of the legend. 

Rhett sniffs her out in her hotel and with the baby there, the jig would be up.  The last time they were together, she left without saying goodbye, and she nervously says she had to, since she “hadn’t been thrown…”  yeah, yeah, since she was 10.  We’ve heard.  Mrs. Fitzpatrick brings the baby down, so Scarlett has to hustle Rhett into the hotel garden.  Scarlett admits she’s still in love with him, and he’s terrible patronizing when he puts a hand on her shoulder and says, “I’m sorry.”  His inability to admit he’s still in love with her causes her grief and she runs off. 

The mantle of cheesy flattery is taken over by Lord Fenton, who has an annoying habit of merely repeating what Scarlett says and adding a question mark.  “In the spirit of candor,” he says, to start off a long line about he’s in love with her.  He doesn’t understand her “reticence.”  “It’s not you I don’t care for, it’s another man that I love,” Scarlett says honestly.  “Will you pine the rest of your days for a dead man?” Lord Fenton asks.  “I want to live!” Scarlett says with Lord Fenton pawing at her and then they go full out sexually.  “You’ve made me an extremely happy man this evening,” Lord Fenton says with typical English reserve.  Mrs. Fitzpatrick comes to deliver a telegram to Scarlett and Lord Fenton purposely comes out of the bedroom.  Since Mrs. Fitzpatrick is a part of the rebel group, that’s not good.  Plus, Scarlett is furious with him.  “As your servant,” Lord Fenton says, Mrs. Fitzpatrick has to keep it quiet, he says, though he also says, “we’re all sophisticated” and that no one will think anything of their liaison.  He’s such a cad, she slaps him, and that he doesn’t take well (though no doubt will get off on it later on). 

The telegram?  When Scarlett gets around to it, it’s from Uncle Henry to say that Suellen is ill and wants to see her.  Is Scarlett’s great Irish adventure over?  No, of course not.  She’s leaving her daughter behind.  “They’re lovers,” Mrs. Fitzpatrick says to Colum as Scarlett leaves, fearful that Scarlett will spill the rebel secrets to her new boyfriend.

It’s sassy fighting Scarlett who arrives back in Atlanta.  Will tells her Suellen got sick having a baby, a boy.  “So she could have died just because you wanted a boy?” Scarlett asks, not ten seconds off the train.  Suellen is very sick when Scarlett gets to the hospital.  “You don’t think I’ve come halfway around the world to watch you kick the bucket do you?” Scarlett asks when Suellen says she might live.  Was that phrase even around in the 1970s and would Scarlett have uttered it? 

Pansy is waiting for Scarlett when she arrives home at her Atlanta house, having worked for India and Ashley and even Aunt Pittypat (as a way, no doubt, to remind us they are all still alive and well).  Scarlett spends the night at the hospital with Suellen, whom sickness has turned very sweet.  If the scene doesn’t remind you of Scarlett tending to sick Melanie, then the writers have done an even lousier job than I first suspected.  “I’d say it was time we buried the hatchet,” Scarlett says.  “You mean other than inside each other?” Suellen jokes, which is very un-Melanie, to be sure. 

Unfortunately, literature’s most boring character outside of Melville’s whale, Ashley Wilkes, is indeed still alive.  He first thanks Scarlett for saving his company and he wants her to wipe away all reminders of Rhett as “he was never worthy of you,” but Scarlett refuses to say why until Ashley takes her in his arms.  Then it’s off to Uncle Henry to divest herself of all Atlanta assets (except for Tara, of course), but Uncle Henry warns her about the bad state of the market.  “People are moving down not up,” he tells her about her big house, though the small houses she bought with Big Sam and Ashley are worth a fortune.  “I guess the past has been neatly and finally put behind us,” Ashley says, unable to get Scarlett to stay in Atlanta.  “Almost,” Scarlett says.  There are two hours left, nothing is finished. 

Suellen is finally well enough to go back to Tara, which has never looked so shabby.  “Now there’s just the one piece of business for me to attend to, that’d be Tara,” she tells Suellen and Will.  “I’m giving it away,” she says.  Will and Suellen both panic.  “To who?”  “To Suellen.”  Awwwwwww, Scarlett is learning.  She’s maturing.  A little.  Maybe.  She does say one very odd thing: “maybe one day you’ll pass it along to your son and another Gerald O’Hara will be master of Tara again.”  Um, he is Gerald Benton, Suellen’s son.  Nobody corrects her.  “The hatchet is buried,” Scarlett says to Suellen and then takes the dirt from Ireland to her father’s grave, “from the first Tara, pa, to the last.” 

Now it’s back to Ireland, her daughter and a heavily glowering Mrs. Fitzpatrick, whose stern countenance makes her a wannabe Mrs. Danvers.  As she reads a letter from Lord Fenton, he’s busy sharpening a razor and waiting to beat up a girl again.  “What sort of unspeakable devil could have done what you’ve just done?” she says afterward, still tied to the bed.  Oh, and she’s pregnant. 

Colum is acting strangely around Scarlett, why?  “I’m smitten,” he says, though we’ve known since he started sniffing one of her handkerchiefs.  She’s shocked, but he tells her to leave. 

Rhett?  Rhett who?  Oh, that boring guy who keeps popping up (no, not Ashley, the other boring guy)?  Training a horse late one night, he has visions.  Anne wakes up and waits for him on the steps.  “You haven’t been the same since we came back” from Ireland, and she thinks he is thinking only of Scarlett.  “Maybe you’ve only needed spectacles to see me,” she wines!  Apparently he speaks her name when he’s sleeping. 

Lord Fenton is welcomed back to Ballyhara with open arms and the staff off for the night.  Hell, they can’t even get fully up the staircase before they are all over each other.  However, she doesn’t want Colum to act strangely around her and refuse him as a friend.  “In this instance, your beauty is only surpassed by your wisdom,” he says, which she fiddle-dee-dees and then moves on to discuss her attraction to Lord Fenton. 

Colum is eating when Mary comes to him with her woes.  He hurries off to Lord Fenton to make sure he provides the money to send Mary away, but Lord Fenton refuses, not afraid of Colum’s religious rantings.  However, Colum mentions Scarlett, but Lord Fenton remains calm and pulls a gun.  Colum says he’s not frightened by it, not until Lord Fenton puts a hole in his chest and kills him!  The only thing this villain lacks is a mustache to twirl.  He’s a truly horrid figure, and with no shame.  That’s way out of Scarlett’s league.  She is fine with selfish people, but not cold-blooded killers!  Lord Fenton drops Colum in a ditch to end the third chapter.

So, the final portion of the story starts with Father Colum’s funeral.  Perhaps guilty, maybe a lot ashamed, Mary wants to throw herself off a cliff, but stops short.  It only gets more macabre as Lord Fenton waits a few yards away for Scarlett to drop flowers at Colum’s grave.  “He must have been rather a fine fellow to have taken your heart.  I wish I would have known him,” the cad has the nerve to say before Scarlett reveals that he was a rebel and “they think that’s what got him killed.”  Lord Fenton decides she must go away with him to England.  That’s gonna make her REAL popular in the village.  Mary wants Scarlett to take her, because “I cannot remain in Ireland” due to her pregnancy.  Talk about your ironies, eh?  Lord Fenton taking Scarlett taking Mary. 

Yellow fever has come to Charleston.  Even Anne comes down with it and though Rhett and Miss Eleanor seem worried, I don’t think anyone will miss her too terribly much if they lose her, even though she never bear Rhett a child (they never quite say what happened, though Anne seems to have been pregnant while a year or so of time elapsed with the other characters).  Her funeral does give Sally a chance to pop by, even if she has no lines.

Dripping with furs, Scarlett takes her daughter and Mary to England, where she gets a huge house, quipping “nothing’s too good for the Irish!”  Both Mary and Lord Fenton have to do some quick acting when they meet in Scarlett’s parlor during tea.  “Your Samaritan inclination seems to be flourishing,” a nervous Lord Fenton tells her, as Scarlett promises him Mary’s situation will get worse before it gets better.  Lord Fenton traps Mary in the drawing room, where he slaps her silly and threatens her. 

Old old money doesn’t take too well to Scarlett.  Lady Fenton (British acting legend Dorothy Tutin) and her daughter, look way down on Scarlett, noting that, “you could hardly be expected to know this, but only the queen is referred to as ma’am.”  The whole stuffy dinner crowd doesn’t have to say “vulgar” for us to know what they are thinking.  “It was Ireland that killed my husband,” Lady Fenton snaps after Scarlett says how much she loves it.  Scarlett listens to a bunch of Irish knocks for a while, but she isn’t our Scarlett O’Hara for nothing (and thankfully the story remembers it).  She gives it right back to everyone when they refer to the rebels, citing her cousin Colum as a shining example (not knowing the murderer is sitting next to her). “Really, Scarlett, there is no evidence to substantiate that accusation,” is all Lord Fenton can say. 

Escaping without too many scratches, Scarlett has Lord Fenton over for some bubbly.  He comments that never before has he been served champagne in a kitchen by a lady.  “Have a seat then,” she retorts.  Scarlett tries to send him off, citing exhaustion, but he pushes it and grabs her, rushing out in a huff as he destroys the champagne set.  Then she has an erotic dream that starts with her and Ashley but turns into an erotic dream about her and Lord Fenton in which he gets violent.  It’s odd for Scarlett and even odder for the miniseries, which was always a very prudish and sex-free genre even when it thought it was being otherwise. 

Scarlett bumps into Morland at the theater and then gets a letter from Sally, which makes three thoughts of Rhett within minutes.  The letter bears the news of Anne’s death.  Speaking of Sally, she pops by Rhett’s to “see if you’ve grown a beard and hair like a bona fide hermit instead of just acting like one.”  Ah, good old Sally, we’ve missed her wit, especially since she’s the only one in the story with any to spare!  Sally urges Rhett to get away from home, “just close your eyes, grit your teeth and jump the fence, damn it!  Hell, it ain’t that high,” she commands.

Lord Fenton is sent packing by Scarlett, though he says, “I’m unaccustomed to being discarded like an old shoe,” though no doubt he would find a use for the leather and nails in one.  “I’m trying to be a lady about it.  I hope you’ll be a gentleman,” she says, but he laughs, “a lady, you?”  He’s not given to fond farewells.  He tries to force himself on her, so she bites his lip, he knocks her down, she screams, the butler hears, but he gags her so no other noises can be heard and tells him all about Mary.  “You filthy disgusting son-of-a-bitch,” she howls, as her butler stands stupefied on the stairs, “if you ever come near me again I’ll kill you!”  However, he follows her upstairs and confesses to killing Colum as well while undressing.  She tries to hit him with a candlestick, and no one stops him as he rips off her clothes and slaps her around.  The servants keep to themselves and Mary hides in her room, not venturing out until the silents have died down and Fenton is smoking a cigarette.  Scarlett starts shouting and slapping again, but Lord Fenton knocks her to the ground and rolls over to sleep. 

As every clock in the house chimes midnight (literally, every clock), Scarlett wakes up to discover a knife stuck in Lord Fenton.  Even Scarlett assumes she did it and is led off, in her ripped gown and bruises by the police.  Mary has disappeared when the maid goes to fetch her.  If we hadn’t hit ridiculous heights so often in this ludicrous plot, we’ve just hit perhaps the most ridiculous.  We did this all in “Gone With the Wind,” another self-defense killing, though not of a Lord, I suppose.

“A murderer?  That enchanting creature?  Ridiculous,” says Morland, echoing my sentiments.  He’s only puzzled because her last name is Butler. 

Sally, brandishing her trademark cigarette, finds Rhett packing after receiving a telegram from Morland.  Lord Morland visits Scarlett in prison to find out her story.  She confesses to lying about her marital status, but does not remember killing Lord Fenton, only being “violated.”  “I’m not more capable of killing someone…at least not Richard,” she says, also admitting to once before killing, though that was a “Yankee soldier about to rape me.”  Lord Morland wants to know if anyone else knows about this killing, as it would be very bad for her case. 

Rhett and Sally race to England and Rhett vows whatever money it takes for a good lawyer, the best being Lord Morland, who isn’t sure he wants the case.  Rhett goes to see Scarlett in the dreary prison.  “I know you didn’t do it, though I wouldn’t put it past you,” he says, and the familiar name-calling starts up again.  He’s not particularly helpful, though she tells him of pregnant Mary having disappeared.  He assures her, “no one is going to hang you.”  It’s then she picks to tell him she has a child…and it’s his!  How very daytime soap opera of her.  He grabs her in anger with a familiar, “damn you, Scarlett!”  He wants to get the kid and take her away, but Sally convinces him otherwise.  “Her cup’s runneth over with troubles, are you going to drown her in the bargain?” she asks. 

Scarlett doesn’t help herself any being questioned by Morland and Rhett, saying that any woman would have “shot him on the spot” upon learning of what Lord Fenton did to Mary.  Bad choice of words and sentiment.  Sally is far more compassionate, though she has a scary tendency to sing “Dixie” when nervous. 

Naturally, there is a trial, and I have to think it’s because Ripley wasn’t smart enough to think outside of conventional soapy plot twists like Margaret Mitchell had (she was soapy, but never conventional).  Mary shows up at the trial and bolts as soon as Morland recognizes her (she was at the theater with Scarlett).  Rhett catches her and begs her help.  “We know someone else did it, we just don’t know who.  There’s a good chance Scarlett will hang,” he pleads, but Mary runs out of the moving carriage and jumps into the Thames, with Rhett diving after her!  They both live, but the doctor won’t let her see Mary. 

The trial gets worse when the maid testifies that she knew Scarlett and Lord Fenton were having an affair, because she saw him come out of the bedroom “in the middle of the day.”  Rhett is next to testify, having to admit that Scarlett lied about the baby.  The barrister calls that an “extreme reaction,” though Morland objects.  Rhett laughs as he is questioned about Scarlett’s lies because that’s the Scarlett he’s always known.  Rhett is asked if he’s sure he’s the father of the child, and he says “none whatsoever.”  Has anyone else watching considered Ashley?  After all, he was seen going into that hotel room alone with her and the timing would be perfect.   Then again, it’s hard to picture Ashley actually having sex and siring a child, so maybe that’s why no one else has tossed in that little wrench of a plot turn. 

Mary wakes up in the hospital, but they were unable to save the baby.  Rhett brings Scarlett a picnic lunch in prison and she jokes, gallows humor at its best, about her “bad character,” but Rhett says she only makes decisions without thinking about what will happen tomorrow.  Ah, tomorrow, her favorite time of life.  He then pays Mary a visit, trying every trick to get her to snap out of her stupor, or perhaps fake stupor. 

Yes, it can get worse for Scarlett.  Lord Fenton’s sister happily confesses that he told her Scarlett has murdered the Yankee soldier.  Mary steals a coat and escapes from the hospital into the twisted London streets.  Somehow, she finds her way to church in the very outfit she had last been seen wearing.  Where did she get that?  She left the hospital in a nightgown. 

Worse still.  The butler testifies of Scarlett’s threat to kill Lord Fenton and then seeing her with the knife in her hand.  Then it’s finally Scarlett’s turn to take the stand.  Mary is there, but no one seems to recognize her.  She testifies that she was angry enough to hit Lord Fenton, but not to kill him.  She’s then asked about killing the soldier, which she barely remembers, and is cloudy on this one because she hit her head.  Her whole time on the stand is absolutely insane, the worst kind of trial writing, with appropriately sniveling lawyers twisting around words and whatnot.  Naturally, Scarlett gets to speech it up a bit, tears and all, with Joanne Whalley going for the gold. 

As expected, Scarlett is found guilty and she is sentenced to hang.  And then Mary finally pops up to tell the truth.  Our Paint-by-Numbers session has finally come full circle, as we knew it would.  It just took FOREVER to get there.  “I done it for all the evil that was in him,” she cries after describing it all.  “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Scarlett tells her on the way out of prison, leaving Mary to rot.  She’s going back to Ireland, “and this time my husband’s coming with me.” 

Off to Ireland they go and Rhett gets to see his daughter, finally.  Such a neat and tidy parcel “Scarlett” has become, eh?  “Say hello to your daddy, darlin’,” Scarlett drawls once the kid wakes up.  “Well you do now,” Rhett declares.  Rhett and Scarlett toast by the fire, with Rhett saying, “let’s hope she has her mother’s brass and her father’s brains.”  She then takes him to her bed, “the world’s largest,” she says, where she promises he won’t even know she’s there.  And they remain on opposite sides of the bed.

There is a jolly festival with more Irish dancing, as you would expect to celebrate the freedom of The O’Hara.  An O’Hara cousin tells Rhett how lucky he is “to have an angel for a daughter and a saint for a wife,” which Rhett doubts before joining the dance.  Mrs. Fitzpatrick thinks he’s “criminal handsome” and they laugh merrily about lovely possibilities.  Hell, Rhett even reads to the kid.  Scarlett still wants to know “about you and me…and you and me and her.”  Can he love her again?  He’s still bitter about being left for dead.  “It wasn’t a question about loving you, but living with you,” he says, causing her to rattle off and to shut up, he grabs her, bends her over and kisses her big time.  “Heaven help the man who ever loves me,” she murmurs.  “Heaven help me,” he says and he once again carries her up the stairs, which would be an apt ending, except that they have to delight in afterglow for a while. 

Even then it isn’t over.  Scarlett and Rhett go walking in the mountains with their daughter and she comments on “how nice” they have been to each other all week. “You’ve changed, Scarlett,” he says and she promises, “I’ll do better this time.”  Where will they live?  He’s in Charleston and she’s in Ireland.  “We belong together Scarlett.  The world is where we belong.  All of it.  We can go anywhere.  As long as we’re together, the world will belong to us.”

“That’s a lot of property,” she notes, causing him to laugh as they walk through the remains of the first Tara. 

There are many problems with “Scarlett” but most of them are with the book, simply compounded by the miniseries.  As I said earlier, there was an inevitability to “Scarlett” being turned into a miniseries and certainly so many were eager for a follow-up to the beloved “Gone With the Wind.”  But, like most sequels, the sequel is never the equal.  The main fault lies with Alexandra Ripley and her inane plot.  Sending Scarlett to Ireland?  Sorry, but that’s so untrue to the characters.  The characters Margaret Mitchell created were full-blooded Southerners, aware of only their world and what the Civil War did to it.  What in tarnation is Scarlett O’Hara doing in Ireland, getting mixed up in Irish-English politics, with a murderous English lord and a dank prison cell?  Scarlett’s world extended no further than the Georgia border because she was so delightfully self-centered on herself and her life at Tara. 

Now, the portion of the story that follows Scarlett to Charleston is fine.  It stays Southern, though lacks any hint of Reconstruction Era poverty since everyone she knows (except her sister) is wealthy.  If Ripley’s story lacks any of the time’s reality (and almost no plot), it at least has the characters.  But, once Scarlett goes off to Ireland, the whole story jumps the tracks and can never return.  I know, in calling it “Scarlett,” Ripley wanted to make sure we understood that this is the continuation of Scarlett O’Hara, not Scarlett and Rhett and Melanie and Ashley and Aunt Pittypat.  In fact, Melanie is the luckiest one, because she has a reason for disappearing from the story (death), while the others have to suffer being merely shoved aside for new and completely uninteresting characters. 

Because the Civil War is not the driving force behind the miniseries, it lacks the tension that “North and South” or “Beulah Land” or “The Blue and The Gray” have.  Under their stories, silly or not, is the imposing war and what it will do to the well-ordered lives of the main characters.  There is no war here, and frankly, these people are not exciting enough when not faced with catastrophe.  They are simply ordinary, which is why I guess Ripley found it so easy to dispense with them.  Their replacements, unfortunately are no better (it’s probably a good time to mention that the Mitchell estate had another sequel written, in the hopes that we would forget “Scarlett”), and Irish politics of the late 18th Century are not enough to grab an American audience for six hours.

However, that didn’t stop “Scarlett” from getting made, even as late as 1994, when the medium was already all-but-obsolete.  Is there anything left in the miniseries gas tank to get this by?  Yes, actually.  A fortune was spent on it.  It looks every bit as expensive and thorough as its cousins from the previous decade.  It feels big and epic, no doubt about it.  We have all of those slummers who didn’t say no to being cast.  John Gielgud and Julie Harris and Elizabeth Wilson and Barbara Barrie and Ann-Margaret (much better used in the same period’s “Queen”) and Jean Smart all pop by long enough to heavily populate the guest star list and add their wattage.  But, ultimately, the fate of this story rests with the people we have known and loved since “Gone With the Wind.”

Now, forgive me for saying this, but I don’t think “Gone With the Wind” is a masterpiece, book or movie (though the movie is an improvement on the book).  It’s a florid soap opera, very decorous, but a soap opera nonetheless.  There are dozens of historical novels that tell virtually the same story, but Mitchell’s characters were so unique, so gripping, especially Scarlett and Rhett.  Faced with the Civil War, they were able to have personalities bigger than life, bigger than most of the real-life people who have become legends of the time.  Hell, some even think they were real!

Joanne Whalley is divine as Scarlett.  I suppose it was too much to find an American actress to play Scarlett yet again, but certainly there was no casting war over the miniseries, and the right choice was made (Leslie Ann Warren had already played Scarlett, in the Broadway-bound flop and done similar work in “Beulah Land,” Leslie-Anne Down had already done “North and South” and though Ann-Margaret might have done a grand job in her youth, let’s leave her with Belle).  Whalley throws herself into the part every bit as vigorously as Vivien Leigh, and has more than twice the amount to do scene-for-scene, but this Scarlett is made to go through so many idiotic twists that it’s hard to create a vibrant character, though Whalley comes as close as I can imagine anyone doing.  The same cannot be said for Timothy Dalton’s Rhett Butler, as he just pins a fake smile on himself and hopes to get away with it like Clark Gable did.  Dalton is a far better actor than Gable, and usually wonderfully magnetic, but he knows his part sucks here and there’s no reason to put much effort into it.  Let’s not even talk about Stephen Collins’ Ashley.  Right actor, wrong part, not his fault.  Fun juicy characters like Belle and Mammy are dispensed with awfully quickly, while new ones with potential like Sally are left as window dressing.  For crying out loud, they try to pass Pansy off as Prissy, but her learning to read is not something Prissy would have EVER considered! 

You won’t see anyone releasing “Scarlett” in a box set with “Gone With the Wind.”  I’m sure fans of the latter have already forgotten the former even existed, but it’s there, both in black and white on the and full color on the screen.  Perhaps the last truly expansive miniseries attempted by a network, “Scarlett” emerges as a showy folly, not really because of anything Hollywood did to it, but what a hack writer did before Hollywood even got there.  The ghosts of Margaret Mitchell and 1939 remain undisturbed, not to worry. 

Questions?  Comments?  Want to laugh about “Scarlett?”  Drop me a line at hpmaraka@gmail.com

Categories: Romance Miniseries

5 Comments to “Scarlett (1994)”

  1. es133 25 July 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Hi,

    Just read your review of the series and I felt it was a bit harsh. The series ought to be seen as slightly independent from the original story and it is a good series that stands its own ground.

    I will admit some parts of it were disappointing but the acting was good and it was rather enjoyable.

  2. tiffany 11 July 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    Reading your review makes me question if you have ever read the book Scarlett. Most of the plot points that you have issue with NEVER happened in the book. There was no murder of Lord Fenton or a maudlin trial. Yes the movie was terrible but don’t confuse it with the book.

    • Bj Kirschner 11 July 2014 at 6:04 pm #

      Thank you for the reminders! I’m afraid I did read the book and no, most of the final third of the miniseries is tripe invented for TV, but I have to be honest in saying that the tripe in the book book isn’t any better. Actually, the miniseries at least adds a bit of campy excitement to what is just plain dull in Ripley’s story. But, the “confusion” of where the book and the miniseries differ from each other is academic: they are both unworkable bombs. The book presents us with a very unlikeable Scarlett and that is the center problem that neither the book nor the miniseries can solve. The Mitchell estate eventually tried another sequel by another writer, with a much more embraceable Scarlett, but the writing is so bad, it’s even more impossible to tackle!

  3. Alina 9 December 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    In the book, Scarlett dumps Wade and Ella with Suellen and Will at Tara, but it’s okay because the kids prefer it there. Really. They tell Scarlett so, which means no guilt!

    • Bj Kirschner 12 December 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      The book is intensely stupid and so is the miniseries, but not in the same way. 🙂


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