Friday, February 21, 2014
Scarlett Loves Muslin
"The Wizard of Oz" isn't the only classic movie celebrating a 75th Anniversary this year. "Gone with the Wind" is eligible for the diamonds associated with this milestone event, too. While Margaret Mitchell's heroine, Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) is best known for the amazing Walter Plunkett gowns that she wore in the film, this post focuses on the plainest one, known as the muslin dress. Here's a make-up test shot. If you had to wear the same outfit as much as Vivien Leigh did, you'd be crying too.
Worn during some of the most important scenes in the film, Vivien Leigh is shown here getting ready to ask Dr. Meade for help in delivering Melanie's (Olivia DeHavilland) baby.
Dr. Meade gives the naive Scarlett a wake-up call by pointing out all the wounded Confederate soldiers that he must attend to; the baby will have to be born without him. He also tells her that next time she needs a favor, she might want to spruce up a bit. He is obviously not partial to muslin.
In this behind-the-scenes cast photo, you might think that Leigh is in the lower left-hand corner of this shot, standing in line like all the other extras to get her lunch.
Not so. The poor schlep in this photo is her stand-in.
Vivien was probably eating filet mignon in her dressing room. Or perhaps a watercress sandwich so that she could maintain Scarlett's 17" waist.
Back at Aunt Pittypat's house, Scarlett (still wearing the muslin dress) asks Prissy for assistance in delivering the baby. We all know how that ended up; Prissy got one whiff of that stinky dress and told her she was on her own!
Rhett stops by the house and picks up all three ladies (plus Melanie's newborn) and agrees to take them to Tara. With the Yankees on the way to Atlanta, there is no time for Scarlett to change dresses. The muslin must be getting a bit stinky by now. At least she had time to change hats.
Rhett abandons the ladies to join the war effort and they finish the journey on their own. Truth be told, Rhett was probably repulsed by the muslin dress. Who knows when the last time was that it hit the suds. Instead of vowing "never to be hungry again," Scarlett should have vowed to get some new clothes. Even Melanie is gasping at the smell of the muslin dress by now.
Scarlett throws herself at Ashley's (Leslie Howard) feet, stealing a kiss. He rebuffs her, too. Doesn't Scarlett realize that wearing the same dress every day is killing her social life?
Even Scarlett's father, Gerald O'Hara (Thomas Mitchell), begs her to change clothes. The neighbors are beginning to talk.
Screaming in horror, Scarlett finally realizes what a mess she has become. This war stuff is nasty business!
Courtesy of her mother's portieres (a fancy word for drapes) and Mammy's skills as a seamstress, Scarlett gets a new outfit. Voilà, the birth of the famous green velvet dress; the muslin outfit was never seen again.
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