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Classic Quotes: Gone with the Wind – Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn

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The Line: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Who Said It: Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind.

The Setup: After the death of the noble Melanie (Olivia de Havilland), the long-suffering, exhausted Butler sits morosely in a chair in his bedroom. He is worn out by the constant rejections and manipulations and selfishness of his ambitious wife, Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), and is unwilling to suffer her any longer. Clearly exasperated, Butler levels O’Hara with the words that would become moviedom’s quintessential kiss-off.

The Payoff: In the mid 1930s, Hollywood embraced a rigid code of self-censorship. Long kisses were forbidden, adultery always had to be severely punished and double beds were for sinners in New York City. Even happily married couples had to sleep in widely separated twin beds, clad top to bottom in pyjamas or nightgowns. Such innocuous four-letter words as “hell” and “damn” were proscribed. Gone with the Wind’s filmmakers fought a long and bitter struggle to let Gable utter his onscreen “damn,” which shocked and titillated audiences–and assured the movie’s status as a certified blockbuster.

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