05 October 2009


“Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn”

In the novel, Rhett's line is "My dear, I don't give a damn," but writer Sidney Howard added "Frankly" -creating what is now one of the most memorable lines, if not the most in cinema history.

voted as the most famous one movie line by the American Film Institute in 2005

Hollywood lore still prevails that in 1939, David O. Selznick paid a $5,000 fine for the privilege of using the word DAMN when Rhett abandons Scarlett at the door of their Atlanta mansion & walks off into the foggy distance. Turns out he didn't-but he would have-

Potential alternatives for the Line were

"Frankly my dear... I just don't care," "... it makes my gorge rise," "... my indifference is boundless," "... I don't give a hoot," and "... nothing could interest me less."

David Selznick bemoaned the fact that he would be a laughing stock if he edited THE line in Margret Mitchell's best selling novel to please the censors. He was willing to pay,but after pleading his case-The Motion Picture Association board passed an amendment to the Production Code in November 1939, to insure that Selznick would be in compliance with the code:

The words "hell" and "damn" would be banned except when they "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."

...damn, not to mention the cameo brooch, the staircase, the stained glass scenic mural, the flocked paper & the damned fog, oh-and the perfectly manicured topiary tree.


  1. i cut my teeth on this one- first major novel i ever read, age 11 in Georgia no less.

  2. Frankly, my dear, I have never read the book or seen the movie. I know, I know... ! I live in the city where Mitchell lived, where the movie premier took place and where, for the Olympics, a cobbled together Margaret Mitchell House was created (now part of the Atlanta History Center) from a former rooming house where she lived for only a few months at most and where she wrote perhaps only a few pages. All gone with the wind as far as I am concerned and, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Good post!

    Also, thank you for the great reference! I did reply by email but this is a public thank you.

  3. funny too, my parents would never allow me to say "damn" when growing up - they saw it is bad as saying "god" - really bugged me back then, and still haunts me now, but sometimes it's better for me to use damn than shyte!!! I'm guessing my parents would have agreed! lol

  4. oh Blue, Steeping yourself in Atlanta this week(your posts and tour) I am telling You Scarlett is one for the books- specifically GWTW. If for nothing else Vivien Leigh is stunning on screen. Mostly the book is her story of survival-the overriding message. As a born Southerner(we are a bit ODD-in a good way)-the heritage-good and bad-Is our history and must be preserved as that. I suggest, GWTW immersion for Blue in AT.GT

  5. AD- some great one liners in GWTW. It lives on-I actually did some extensive research about MM and writing of it in 10 grade? Damn-I still have that somewhere-amusing post? Do you save these things too? GT

  6. As I have written before, I do the reverse Scarlet by making drapes that look like ball gowns! A sister of a friend was always doing wonderful malapropisms. One of my favorites: As God as my waitress, I'll never be hungry again!

    And yes I saved many term papers. My senior high school paper was on James Joyce's Dublin. Like I had a clue! I was most impressed that Joyce could pun in seven languages.

  7. Home-I still think that to be Joyce's redeeming quality! Glad you do this- MM was an intrigue of mine early on-A second profession of mine should have been sleuthing,& as God is my waitress-love it. Of course the great sketch with Carol Burnette as Scarlet with the curtain rods and all tour de force. GT

  8. Can you beleive I never read this before last year. To make up for the insulting delay, I bought an original edition. I read "Rhett Butler's People" after , but I think I'll leave well enough alone and won't try the Scarlet spinoff. Your post is really fun but - shucks it's too bad no one gives a hoot about language anymore.


    Lovely information.

    Proves--good and excellent screenwriters are essential.It's why they hire special writers to 'rev' up scripts or add memorable lines...like this one.
    Frankly--they are essential.
    Love your blog--always fresh and frisky.
    Cheers, www.thestylesaloniste.com

  10. I was always told there were two kinds of Southerners, those who think Rhett is gone for good and those who think he is coming back. Many remember the "damn" as the last word of the movie, but of course Scarlett has the last word..."tomorrow's another day."

  11. Hi,

    When I was a teenager and reading this book, my grandmother told me that the Catholic Church banned people from seeing the movie because of the word "Damn" in it and if you did see it you could not ask to be absolved in confession.

    I promptly asked if she had seen it becuase of this double bind of the C. Church, she said yes and see went to the movie theater to see it multiple times, knowing it was a sin.

    Funny how the world has changed :)

  12. Eliz. A great story and don't you love that your GranMa could get the idea of separation of church and cinema. No sin here. la



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