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"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" is a line from the 1939 film Gone with the Wind starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. The line is spoken by Rhett Butler (Gable), as his last words to Scarlett O'Hara (Leigh), in response to her tearful question: "Where shall I go? What shall I do?" Scarlett, however, clings to the hope that she can win him back. This line is partially spoken by Rhett Butler in Margaret Mitchell's novel Gone with the Wind, published in 1936, from which the movie is derived. The novel does not include the word "frankly" which was added by scriptwriter Sydney Howard.
The line demonstrates that Rhett has finally given up on Scarlett and their tumultuous relationship. After more than a decade of fruitlessly seeking her love – as covered over nearly four hours of film – he no longer cares what happens to her. The profanity in the line was unusual and shocking in American film at the time.
Prior to the film's release, censors objected to the use of the word "damn" in the film, a word that had been prohibited by the 1930 Motion Picture Association's Production Code, beginning in July 1934. However, before 1930 the word "damn" had been relatively common in films. In the silent era, John Gilbert even shouted "Goddamn you!" to the enemy during battle in The Big Parade (1925). The Production Code was ratified on March 31, 1930, and was effective for motion pictures whose filming began afterward. Thus, talkies that used "damn" include Glorifying The American Girl (1929), Flight (1929), Gold Diggers Of Broadway (1929), Hell's Angels (1930), The Big Trail (1930), The Dawn Patrol (1930), and The Green Goddess (1930). Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined producer David O. Selznick $5,000 for using the word "damn", in fact the MPA board passed an amendment to the Production Code a month and a half before the film's release, on November 1, 1939, that allowed use of the words "hell" or "damn" when their use "shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore...or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste". With that amendment, the Production Code Administration had no further objection to Rhett's closing line. It is actually the second use of "damn" in the film. The term "damn Yankees" is heard in the parlor scene at Twelve Oaks.