SO RED THE ROSE is King Vidor's quietly affecting Civil War romance, starring Margaret Sullavan as a Southern aristocrat, the mistress of a Southern plantation, whose sheltered life is torn... See full summary »
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SO RED THE ROSE is King Vidor's quietly affecting Civil War romance, starring Margaret Sullavan as a Southern aristocrat, the mistress of a Southern plantation, whose sheltered life is torn apart by the War between the States. During the war's darkest days she is sustained by her love for a distant cousin, a Confederate officer, played by Randolph Scott. Written by
I saw this film on television (channel 21 I believe) back in the 1980s. It was okay, and (given the standards of racial stereotypes in 1935)actually ahead of its time in one scene. Otherwise, it is a pale sketch for Gone With The Wind. I think the reason is that whatever failings on racial grounds haunt us regarding Margaret Mitchell's novel, Miss Mitchell created memorable characters in Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler (and yes, even in Mammy)while the screenplay writers and the novelist who wrote SO RED THE ROSE did not do so. Also, the disasters facing Margaret Sullivan's world (while ruinous) are not as visually nightmarish to us as Scarlet's finding her father insane and her mother dead, or of seeing Atlanta burn. There are moments in SO RED that subtly show the size of the disaster - the death of the weakened defeated Walter Conolly, as he returns home in his carriage, for example. But while sad, it just does not hold a candle to the collapse of the ante-bellum Atlanta in GWTW.
The one moment that does stand out (and stands out against the normal racist rubbish of the 1930s) was when Sullivan confronts her slaves, who have heard the Yankee troops are approaching and they may be free. She tries to control them with reminders of how good her family was to them (although - tellingly - she slaps one who dare suggests its wasn't all that great). But further bad news reaches her, and she collapses. The slaves look at her - and walk away to desert the plantation. No scene like that is in GWTW, but I suspect it happened far more frequently than Margaret Mitchell would have preferred to have know of.
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