Gone With The Wind1939, 237 min.
Directed by Victor Fleming
No way in hell was I going to be late for this one.
Tonight I was finally going to see it, the most famous movie in the world. You see, Gone With The Wind has always been the glaring hole in my cinematic resume. It's my white whale or sorts. I've had many opportunities to watch it, but never have (for one reason or another). All I've ever seen of it is in the form of trailers and short clips on television. Heck, I even own the DVD (somewhere), still sitting untouched on a shelf. The reverence associated with this spectacle of a film has dictated that I see it properly when I finally decide to see it. The Summer Film Series gave me the perfect reason for delaying my viewing. I can see it on the big screen!
It was originally to be the date night capper for the summer. My lady had expressed a keen interest in this all summer, and as the date had approached we had gotten more and more excited. A trip early in the Summer to the "Making Movies" exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center at UT kicked our enthusiasm into a higher gear. There we found pre-production art and costumes (including the famous Curtain dress), adding to the aura of Gone With The Wind. It was no mere movie, it in itself was history.
Unfortunately, as the summer progressed the number of screenings for Gone With The Wind shrank from three screenings over two days to one lone screening. Due to a performance by comic Margaret Cho on Sunday, those days screenings were canceled. That left Saturday night's showing to be the only opportunity for anyone to partake of the film.
Alas, a date night was not to be. Schedules got rearranged and she would be unable to join me. A little sad at the prospect of watching this majestic film on my own, I nevertheless set out for the final film of the Summer Series. The movie was at 7:00 pm, and I left our home at 6:23. Over a half hour. Plenty of time.
Downtown Austin on a Saturday evening is not an easy venture, particularly if you need to go anywhere near 6th street. The Paramount is on Congress between 7th and 8th, so I knew parking was going to be a challenge. Coming east down 5th from Mopac, I don't see anything out of the ordinary as I hit Congress. I begin circling a couple of blocks to find a parking spot.
Catching way too many red lights because of hold ups. Not by the metro buses, mind you, but by horses. Yes, horses. Two potential spots are lost within a few minutes because a carriage is blocking my path and another vehicle whips around them to snag the space. Grrr. Stupid horses.
I'm running out of time and getting nervous. I absolutely do not want to miss a single frame of this movie. Going north, I finally pass in front of the Theatre. I literally do a double-take. They are letting people in the doors, but this line of patrons streams past The State Theatre next door and snakes down 8th. Hoooooly crap. That's a LOT of folks. On the plus side, my mind tells me that this buys me several more minutes. There's no way they can seat everyone and get the movie started by 7.
Okay, time to concede to paid parking. I turn and make my way towards Littlefield Mall just off 6th street. I've parked over there before and they're reasonable, and- oh, dammit. I don't think I have cash. Checking my wallet at a red light confirms it. Ugh. I'd stop at a nearby ATM to get cash, but that would... you know. Require parking. Oh, the irony.
This is ridiculous. I expanded the perimeter and still nada. There's still a small line outside, but I need to find something fast.
Outlook bleak. Not even a hint of a car leaving to free up a space. Line has disappeared inside.
Dude. I'm so tired of this Eminem/Rhianna song. Three times on two radio stations in a little less than an hour. Yes, yes. You love the way he lies. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Click.
Ugh. I'm sure the movie's starting now.
I'll circle one more time. Maybe I won't have missed much.
Like a flat-lining patient, I have to call it. My effort is dead. The show is likely well into the second reel. Sigh. Guess it wasn't meant to be. Reluctantly, I turn the car back south on Congress and head home.
Needless to say, I was very disappointed. What a bummer of an ending for me to the great Summer Film Series. After all my efforts to make it to as many films as humanly possible, I get shut out of the last film. Curse you, white whale.
Trying to fight back the bitter taste in my mouth, I'm more upset that there was only one screening of the grand finale. Why, Margaret Cho? Why did you deny us more Gone with the Wind? Shouldn't you be working out and practicing for "Dancing with the Stars"?
As I drove south on Congress in the direction of my home, thoughts percolated in my head. I shouldn't be too distraught. At least now I can see Gone with the Wind with my lady, as was intended. We'll get to it someday. I've gone this long, what's a little bit longer? With luck, maybe I'll see it proper next year at The Paramount. Or maybe I'll finally dig up my copy and watch it at home.
Through all my indignant thoughts, a beam of sunlight began to part the stormy clouds in my head. Maybe, a movie this grand is meant to be seen in certain circumstances, but not necessarily on the big screen. Maybe, I'm just supposed to share a moment like that with the woman I love, whether at The Paramount or on the living room TV. Yeah, that's how I'm going to look at this. And you know why? Because that's what feels right to me. Yes, I had the opportunity, but there's always next time. As I've heard somewhere before...
...after all, tomorrow is another day.
Oh, and best of luck to you, Margaret Cho. You had better win it all now.