So in Gone With the Wind (80 years old this year), there’s a scene where Scarlett O’Hara embraces her long time friend Ashley. Ashley’s sister happen to walk in on them.
She really, really hates Scarlett (she thinks of her as a bully and unladylike), so she spreads rumors that the two are having an affair. While it’s actually a pretty innocent hug, it does actually point out an uncomfortable truth: Scarlett does have an unrequited crush on Ashley. This usually is not a problem for the shameless, strong-willed Scarlett, but it is complicated by the fact that Ashley is married to Melly, who is basically Scarlett’s only friend in the world.
So Scarlett goes into a funk and refuses to go to Ashley’s birthday party because of all the gossip being directed at her. Her husband, Rhett, though — who has known for a long time that Scarlett loves Ashley and kinda knows that she doesn’t love him — flies into a rage. He not only forces her to go to the party, but he also forces her to wear a slutty red dress. The implication is that he’s going to teach her a lesson: she’s going to go to this party, and Melly is going to be so angry that she’s going to disown her. Scarlett’s going to finally feel the pain of shame and humility.
When Scarlett goes to the party, though, something unexpected happens. The first is rather than showing up in shame, she — or Vivien Leigh, rather — stares down the party with a goddamn “Come at me” look that cows the crowd into silence. Whatever happens, she’s going to take her lumps but never show fear. She is ever defiant.
Because all throughout the movie, that’s who Scarlett is. It’s an iconic moment, replicated in commemorative collector’s plates everywhere.
And after a beat, where Melly herself is a little surprised… she greets Scarlett warmly with a reassurance that they’re still best friends. She then flashes a glance at the rest of the party as if to say that they should all be ashamed of themselves that they dared push Scarlett to have to prove themselves to everyone. They should be feeling bad, not Scarlett.
Undoubtedly Melly (Olivia de Havilland) has heard these rumors, and she herself already knew for years about Scarlett’s crush. But she also knows her friend and her husband so well that they’d never let it go further than that. She also knows about that time Scarlett sacrificed everything to save her life when she was sick and how she saved her baby in the middle of a war-torn city when she went into premature labor. And she knows about how Scarlett fought to rebuild her fortune, this time by her own sweat, when the world stood against her. She sees her friend more than the frigid monster everyone thinks she is. She’s never break her friendship over what seems like a validation of her greatest fears, because she’s the best.
That’s who Melly is.
Goddammit, I still cry that Scarlett is the one Melly calls to her deathbed at the end of them movie. Because best friends.
So that leads us to today’s prompt: what is your favorite cinematic friendship?
As always, let’s talk about movies you’ve seen lately!
As God Is My Witness, I’ll Never Go Reviewless Again: