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Giving a damn about ‘Gone With the Wind’ as it turns 75

By Laura Emerick/For Sun-Times Media

‘Gone With the Wind” (1939), perhaps the most popular film of all time, sweeps back into cinemas nationwide for screenings at 2 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Wednesday.

As part of the 75th anniversary celebration for this landmark film, the classic will be screened in an 8K digital restoration at more than 650 theaters, including 17 in the Chicago area. Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies, which is presenting the film along with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and Fathom Events, has taped an introduction in which he discusses the film’s legacy.

Next week’s screenings (fathomevents.com) cap a yearlong salute to the epic film, based on Margaret Mitchell’s 1936 best-selling romance set during and after the Civil War. Starring Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland, “Gone With the Wind” won 10 Oscars and remains the highest-grossing movie ever, adjusted for inflation.

Showcased at the fifth annual TCM Classic Film Festival in April, “GWTW” attracted a capacity crowd to the historic TCL (Grauman’s) Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Osborne spoke about the important role the movie has played in TCM’s development: “ ‘Gone With the Wind’ was the first film shown on TCM when our channel was launched on April, 14, 1994. It remains a sentimental favorite for us.”

Other events rolling out this month:

• “Gone With the Wind: The 75th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition,” out Tuesday: This limited edition Blu-ray release features enhanced extras and memorabilia, including a music box paperweight playing “Tara’s Theme” and a replica of Rhett Butler’s handkerchief. (List price: $49.99.)

• “The Making of ‘Gone With the Wind’ ” at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas-Austin, through Jan. 4: This exhibit showcases more than 300 photographs, costumes, screen tests, memos and other artifacts, some never seen before, from the collection of “GWTW” producer David O. Selznick (who left his papers to the college). Among the highlights: the green “Curtain Dress” worn by Scarlett O’Hara. Admission to the exhibit, which opened Sept. 9, is free.

• The exhibit’s catalog, written by film historian Steve Wilson and published by the University of Texas Press, features more than 600 items from Selznick’s archives and a foreword by Osborne. The 336-page book is available for $33.50 online at utpress.utexas.edu.

• TCM will show the film at 9 p.m. Monday as part of a nightlong marathon honoring composer Max Steiner (who wrote the film’s Oscar-nominated score).