Fleming. Fleming has two films in the top 100 (wow!) and 5 in the top 100 of their respective decade. So what gives? That resume should put him closer to a top 50 director than #118. The issue is the level of authorship (in general- there aren’t a lot of Flemingisms’) specifically when it comes to Gone With the Wind– which is technically his best film. Mostly, I stick by the “directed by” byline but I’ve just read too much about David O. Selznick, the making of this film, and how much was shot by George Cukor to just paint this film as Fleming’s artistic achievement. I get that all films are collaborative in some sense- but this is different.
Best film: Gone With the Wind. I do think it’s superior to The Wizard of Oz but those two titans of 1939 are the options here.
total archiveable films: 9
top 100 films: 2 (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz)
top 500 films: 2 (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz)
top 100 films of the decade: 5 (Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Captains Courageous, Test Pilot, The Virginian)
most overrated: Nothing really here. The TSPDT consensus has two Fleming films in the top 1000- The Wizard of Oz is in at 105 and Gone With the Wind is in at #109. I think both are slightly underrated by 10-30 slots.
most underrated: It is Captains Courageous. It falls between #500 and #1000 for me and it doesn’t land on the TSPDT at all. Spencer Tracy, a stacked supporting ensemble (Lionel Barrymore, Melvyn Douglas, Rooney, John Carradine) in a winning coming of age yarn from Kipling source material.
gem I want to spotlight: Test Pilot. The two masterpieces are why Fleming is here and should be praised but when you’ve watched hundreds of movies from the 1930’s and then one day stumble upon Test Pilot with Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable (the two best in 1938) throwing 100 miles per hour at each other… you have to stop and appreciate it.
stylistic innovations/traits: Fleming is remembered for 1930’s Technicolor Hollywood masterpieces— two landmarks of Hollywood, the Golden year of 1939. Red Dust and Captains are exotic adventure yarns and engaging for sure- but make no mistake about it it’s the 1-2 punch from 1939 that Fleming’s reputation is built on. The images and innovations here in The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind speak for themselves. If we could attribute Gone With the Wind solely to Fleming, like I said above, there is crane camera movements (the injured body shot), the end of the first act with “As God as my witness” and that shot— it would put Fleming there with Griffith and David Lean. It may be the use of color though that he’s most associated with. Powell and Pressburger would do similar work in the 1940’s but his color splashes in Gone With the Wind and the often-duplicated shot of the door opening in The Wizard of Oz…. ahh… stylistic cinematic bliss.
- Gone With the Wind
- The Wizard of Oz
- Captains Courageous
- Test Pilot
- The Virginian
- Red Dust
- A Guy Named Joe
- Joan of Arc
- Treasure Island
By year and grades
|1929- The Virginian||R|
|1932- Red Dust||R|
|1934- Treasure Island||R|
|1937- Captains Courageous||MS|
|1938- Test Pilot||HR|
|1939- Gone with the Wind||MP|
|1939- The Wizard of Oz||MP|
|1943- A Guy Named Joe||R|
|1948- Joan of Arc||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
the wizard of oz is truly one of the best films ever. this isn’t the best element in the movie, but it does have a great useage of green.
@m —- yep for sure– the film has so much going for it– but certainly one of the main reasons to praise, study and appreciate the film is for its use of color
how do you feel about the attempt to ban gone with the wind. i am adamantly against it because that is one of the best films ever and it is not an intolerant film. it is about one woman’s survival when her life comes crashing down. also you shouldn’t censor art.
@m I’m with you on censorship. I don’t think art should be censored. I think Idris Elba just came out and said there should be a disclaimer before the movie if people want– and then let the original movie play– or something to that effect. 100% agree with him.
i also disagree with that idea about disclaimers. i understand where people are coming from but i don’t think we should have them because i think we should be strong enough in our beliefs that we won’t be dissuaded by a film like gone with the wind.
@m — At least the disclaimer is before the movie and not altering the movie. That’s what I care about. There were disclaimers galore during the early 1930’s with the Hays code– Scarface in 1932 had a big long one. They’ve never bothered me.
also i don’t want to seem irritating for commenting so much- it is just a great site. very stylized informative and allowing discussion on this great artform of cinema. anyways, like the argument i see above over the disclaimer and censorship, i don’t like that. don’t censor a great film like gone with the wind. i think it needs defending. even i have the book great movies by roger ebert and he writes about it calling it ‘a good story told wonderfully well’. i think it is so much more, and that there is much insight to be gained. it shows so much about how people survive in bad times, intimate characterizations, and how grief affects our lives. in regards to all that controversy have you had a chance to rewatch it recently. do you think you will get to a review by the end of the year. i know it is long but most definitely rewarding. de palma in a recent interview talked about him and his wife rewatching the movie and getting inspired by its frame. i love wizard of oz, casablanca, wonderful life, (don’t know if i’d count singing in the rain in this category) but i think this film is the crowning studio achievement. anyone else on the site i’d love to hear your views on this masterpiece gone with the wind, and the controversy surrounding it. one of my very favorites.
Hello again haha. I’m also a fan of GWTW, again i don’t remember where i posted the defense against censorship, sorry.
I had the opportunity to see this movie in an outdoor exhibition, it is quite different from the theater but very enjoyable
@Aldo that sounds very exciting. i live relatively close to the segerstrom center for the arts and sometimes they do outdoor movies. not too keen on drive ins though. is gone with the wind in your top 50. it is probably in my top ten as i consider it to be the emotionally richest American film (tied only perhaps with Kane and Godfather, which i love GF but it has never been top 15 for me). Did you know kubrick hated gone with the wind. which he has the right too since he made one of the few superior films in my estimation (2001). if you don’t mind can you please give more of your thoughts on gone with the wind.
sorry, also i’d say john ford’s the searchers ties in complexity and greatness
My ranking of Fleming`s films that I`ve seen:
1. Gone with the Wind MP
2. The Wizard of Oz MP
3. Captains Courageous HR
4. Test Pilot R/HR
5. The Virginian R
6. Red Dust R
7. Treasure Island R