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Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes

WTF were they thinking?

by Anonymousreply 7504/24/2013

I liked him in the part. I may be in the minority but I thought he was sexy. Even more so than Gable.

by Anonymousreply 106/12/2011

They were thinking, incredibly gifted, not very well know in Hollywood British actress as Scarlett, incredibly gifted not very well known in Hollywood British actor as Ashley. (They didn't have to worry about marquee value names when they had Clark Gable.)

You have to remember that 1939 was the apex of eugenics, so the biological ramifications of marriage were very much on even ordinary people's minds. It's implied that the Wilkses are sort of fucked up due to inbreeding (all that marrying of cousins) and that Nature is doing Scarlett an unappreciated favor by putting Melanie and Rhett Butler in between them. Leslie is very good at telegraphing that he's just not genetically worthy to fertilize the ova of a red hot mama like Scarlett.

by Anonymousreply 206/12/2011

Ugly, horse-faced and way too old.

by Anonymousreply 306/12/2011

Her attraction to him was incomprehensible to me. He was weak and dull.

by Anonymousreply 406/12/2011

of all feats of casting to complain about

1) great actor

2) successful film star

3) huge contrast in persona to Clark Gable

4) fine chemistry with both of his leading ladies, and most importantly

5) elegant with a natural gentlemanly personality perfect for Ashley Wilkes

by Anonymousreply 506/12/2011

Scarlett loved and admired her own mother, " a real lady" and I think she saw in Ashley the similar qualities. It was aspirational. She was never going to be like her mother. %0D %0D She was Gerald's daughter, but with more common sense and cunning. Ashley was a goal, something to treasure and admire, and who was unattainable. He represented breeding and culture. %0D %0D As she grew more mature, and life happened to her, she saw the Ashley was essentially useless, and all the pretensions to proper society he represented, were ephemeral, and had been swept away in the war...gone with the winds of change sweeping thru the South....%0D %0D As for Leslie Howard he made several leading man movies. He represented a certain type in Hollywood. If you look at other film stars from that period, you seem to have had three types: Dashing, devastatingly handsome guys like Clark Gable, Errol Flynn; then Leslie Howard, Ronald Coleman, Joseph Cotton, Claud Rains,and David Niven- type, sexy but in a classic, theatrical, homely way; and the working class hero types like John Garfield, Cagney, and Paul Muni. %0D %0D Jimmy Stewart was never a sex symbol, but he was popular as was Henry Fonda back then. I do find it fascinating to observe how our idea of what was handsome or attractive changed over time, yet the Errol Flynns and Tyrone Powers were/are timeless in their beauty. %0D %0D Leslie was quite the leading man. He was the Scarlet Pimpernel co-starring with Merle Oberon and in movies with Bette Davis. I'm thinking Selznick felt that his presence, was a way to give stature and class to the civi war epic.

by Anonymousreply 606/12/2011

he was way too old, but he was only 8 years older than Gable

by Anonymousreply 706/12/2011

"Her attraction to him was incomprehensible to me."%0D %0D It's *supposed* to be incomprehensible to all of us. Scarlett was projecting, inventing a romance that would allow her to continue her self-destructive ways. %0D %0D I thought Howard was perfect, because he could express both vulnerability and strength. Ashley was not weak in the end; though he did not believe in the "Cause" he was fighting for, he nonetheless was brave in battle. After the war, he stayed and took care of his impoverished family when running off with Scarlett would have been the weakling's choice.

by Anonymousreply 806/12/2011

R1 = cuckoo

by Anonymousreply 906/12/2011

R7, Howard (& Wilkes) acted like an adult, whereas Gable (& Butler) acted like an impulsive boy. No wonder the grown-up seemed older than the child.

by Anonymousreply 1006/12/2011

Recently saw "It's Love She's After" and was really surprised at how cute he was.

by Anonymousreply 1106/12/2011

"he was way too old, but he was only 8 years older than Gable"%0D %0D Rhett was supposed to be a good deal older than Scarlett - when they meet she's sixteen and he's about thirty. She's a girl and he's a man in his prime. %0D %0D Ashley is closer to her age, I don't remember exactly how at the beginning, although I'm sure someone can fill us in. But he's supposed to be a contemporary of Scarlett's, not in his mid-forties like Leslie Howard.

by Anonymousreply 1206/12/2011

When the book begins Scarlett is sixteen and Ashely is in his early or mid twenties.

Howard was two decades too old for the part! Scarlett was supposed to be lusting after a cute blond boi.

by Anonymousreply 1306/12/2011

I always thought Eroll Flynn was ugly.

by Anonymousreply 1406/12/2011


by Anonymousreply 1506/12/2011

Yes, just hideous, r14.

by Anonymousreply 1606/12/2011

Howard did not want to play the part and ONLY took it as part of a deal Selznick struck with him to co-produce and star in Intermezzo, which made Ingrid Bergman an American star. He hated the youthful make-up and hairstyles they gave him, warned Walter Plunkett NOT to dress him like "the fag doorman at the Beverly Wilshire" and never read Margaret Mitchell's book! That being said, he ended up nailing the role for the reasons other have mentioned. He projected his own sort of sexuality in the film. The only completely wierd and out of place thing was the British accent! He never remotely attempted to hide it or to adopt a Southern drawl. Neither did Gable.

by Anonymousreply 1706/12/2011

What are YOU thinking?? He was breathtakingly brilliant in all ways. He owns the role.

by Anonymousreply 1806/12/2011

"Oh, Millanie, are you heppy? Are you truly, truly heppy?"

by Anonymousreply 1906/12/2011

R12 -- I think Ashley was around 25 when the book started -- he had finished college and went on his Grand Tour, then returned about a year before the book started, which is when Scarlett got set off and running after him.

Rhett was 32 when he first appeared.

by Anonymousreply 2006/12/2011

He's attractive and I don't see the ancient thing, but when I watched it (as a young girl), I remember thinking he was so femmy and British. I figured it was meant as a sloppy contrast to the cool guy we were supposed to like, or show what a climber Scarlett was.

I never would have guessed at that age that Leslie was a ladies man (and a daring spy) in real life, and Gable possibly gay.

by Anonymousreply 2106/12/2011

I though he was horrible in the Wilkes role, and didn't understand how could ever be effective in anything. And then I saw his brilliance as Professor Henry Higgins in "Pygmalion". I don't talk bad about him anymore. (Here's the ending):

by Anonymousreply 2206/12/2011

Yes, he was brilliant as Prof. Higgins, who is indefinitely middle-aged. And intelligent, witty, cutting, and eccentric, everything that Ashley Wilkes is not. %0D %0D So I really wonder why the hell Selznick wanted him for the role. Wilkes should have been played by someone young, beautiful, and sweet-natured. Personally I think Tyrone Power would have been perfect, but as I hadn't been born when the film was made I didn't get any input on the casting.

by Anonymousreply 2306/12/2011

[quote]why the hell Selznick wanted him for the role

It was strange -- Selznick had to bribe him

by Anonymousreply 2406/12/2011

Miscast. I agree with every negative comment about him in the role. Too old, too British and didn't seem in the least bit Southern or American. Over time, I think his performance stinks worse.

I actually think he is the only thing that keeps it from being a PERFECT movie. I do think the script and the way they managed shoe horn all of the book into one film was well done.

Oddly, I always thought Ms. Leigh nailed all of the role -- and seemed more Southern than many of the American actors.

by Anonymousreply 2506/12/2011

Opinions are like assholes. Everyone's got one.

by Anonymousreply 2606/12/2011

I totally bought Howard in this role. The whole Wilkes family was very mild mannered and that is what they preferred. I didn't get caught up in his accent. In later roles I thought he was really hot.

by Anonymousreply 2706/12/2011

R25, Norma Shearer? She was offered the part, but turned it down 'cause Miss Norma knew that at the age of 37, no one would buy her as a teenaged Scarlett O'Hara. She had taken some slings and arrows in 1937 for trying to play a teenaged Juliet in Romeo and Juliet opposite a 43 YEAR OLD.........LESLIE HOWARD. And she foolishly turned down the lead in Mrs. Miniver because she was too fucking vain to portray the mother of an adult man!!! She was crazy.

by Anonymousreply 2806/13/2011

I think I saw part of GWTW once when I was little and hated it. Ashley was awful looking. I too thought why would this beautiful woman want that guy? Ew! And CG looked awful and really old too. I also thought the black maid was weird and it was pretty racist.

by Anonymousreply 2906/13/2011

Given all of these comments - how should GWTW be cast today - God forbid!!

by Anonymousreply 3006/13/2011

I don't know anything but I have an opinion!

by Anonymousreply 3106/13/2011

R29, try reading the book & then watch the movie again.

by Anonymousreply 3206/13/2011

I would cast Michael Fassbender as Rhett.

by Anonymousreply 3306/13/2011

"how should GWTW be cast today - God forbid!!"%0D %0D Scarlett: Rene Soffer (Okay, don't know if she can act but she's gorgeous.)%0D %0D Rhett: Hugh Jackman%0D %0D Melanie: Ashley Judd%0D %0D Ashley: Jude Law%0D %0D Suellen: Dakota Fanning%0D %0D Careen: Abigail Breslin%0D %0D Frank Kennedy: Dennis Quaid%0D %0D Charles Hamilton: Michael Cera %0D %0D Mammy: Whatshername. Won the Oscar. Doesn't Shave Legs.%0D %0D Prissy: Raven Symone%0D %0D Belle Watling: Christina Hendricks%0D %0D The Horse That Kills Bonnie: SJP (SORRY! Never made an SJP joke before and it just trotted out.)%0D %0D %0D

by Anonymousreply 3406/13/2011

I always saw him as a Wallace Beery-Sabu kind of amalgam role, only taller and with carriage and grandeur and shoulders and a chin. Dincha you, Emma? Dincha? Dincha? Dincha?

Yes yes yes, Effie. Most definitely. Yes. But not quite fully. Dark and So Broad. And not the drinking. But yes. And some of that Little Leroy all growed, up only, you know, different completely, you know, like they say he was in, you know, in...

(They both nod their head)

The Book.

by Anonymousreply 3506/13/2011

When Selznick sawe the girl cast as Bonnie Blue Butler, he said: "First, a 40 year old Ashley, and now a brown-eyed Bonnie Blue Butler".

by Anonymousreply 3606/13/2011

Leslie Howard suffers from the same problem Norma Shearer has. The role they are most identified with is in no way representative of their best work. For years, the only movie I had ever seen of Norma's was "The Women" where she is pretty much upstaged by the whole cast. It was shocking to see some of her earlier films where she is much more lively.

by Anonymousreply 3706/13/2011

Norma Shearer is the hammiest ham I've ever seen. Saw a bunch of her movies and she is AWFUL in all of them.

by Anonymousreply 3806/13/2011

[quote]Rhett: Hugh Jackman

by Anonymousreply 3906/13/2011


by Anonymousreply 4006/13/2011

Ugh. Hugh Jackman as Rhett? No way. He's too fucking pretty.%0D %0D Rhett, as described in the book, is ruggedly, masculinely, handsome. Think of a latter-day, contemporary, Peter Finch-like - circa "The Nun's Story", current star.%0D %0D Benecio Del Torro and Tommy Lee Jones are too old, but, you get the picture. %0D %0D Rhett must be played by an actor who has the equivalent looks of "fit-fat"- homely-handsome.

by Anonymousreply 4106/13/2011

"Milktoast" might just be the new "Cak".

by Anonymousreply 4206/13/2011

Scarlett: Megan Fox%0D %0D Rhett: George Clooney%0D %0D Melanie: Cameron Diaz%0D %0D Ashley: Justin Timberlake%0D %0D Suellen: Kiera Knightley%0D %0D Careen: Siena Miller%0D %0D Frank Kennedy: George Kennedy%0D %0D Charles Hamilton: Josh Hartnett%0D %0D Mammy: Oprah%0D %0D Prissy: Jada Pinkett-Smith%0D %0D Belle Watling: Lindsay Lohan%0D %0D Directed By: Michael Bay%0D

by Anonymousreply 4306/13/2011

[quote]Scarlett: Megan Fox

Scarlett did not have fake lips and silicone tits and tramp stamps all over her body.

by Anonymousreply 4406/13/2011

Rhett-Jeffrey Dean Morgan

by Anonymousreply 4506/13/2011

I would love the Michael Bay version, but why oh why can't Tom Cruise play Rhett?

by Anonymousreply 4606/13/2011

Jennifer Connelly as Scarlett, George Clooney as Rhett, Brad Pitt as Ashley and Natalie Portman as Melanie

by Anonymousreply 4706/13/2011

Bjork as Scarlett

by Anonymousreply 4806/13/2011

Leslie Howard was a well-known screen actor in the USA throughout the 30s. He starred opposite Bette Davis in OF HUMAN BONDAGE, the role that put her on the map. %0D %0D Prior to production there were all kinds of magazine polls inviting readers to select who they wanted to see in GWTW. Howard was by far the most popular choice to play Ashley. That's why he was cast.

by Anonymousreply 4906/13/2011

A magazine from that era invited its readers to write suggesting actresses for the role of Scarlett. One single reader from New Zealand wrote suggesting Vivien Leigh.

by Anonymousreply 5006/13/2011

I will kick anyone in the cunt who denies me the right to Prissy

by Anonymousreply 5106/13/2011

#23: "Personally I think Tyrone Power would have been perfect..."

Smart of you... Selznick thought so too. Tyrone Power was Selznick's first choice for the role. But Power was under contract to Twentieth Century-Fox, and studio boss Darryl Zanuck refused to loan him out again after MGM used him in "Marie Antoinette" (1938).

Zanuck felt, correctly, that MGM had cut Power's part down to build up star Norma Shearer's title role, and that Power had came off as something of a supporting player. He might have let Selznick borrow Power for the lead role of Rhett Butler, but not for Ashley Wilkes, which was essentially a supporting role.

So, Selznick's second choice was MGM's Melvyn Douglas, who had been shooting tests with the actresses auditioning for Scarlet. Unfortunately, Douglas came across as a bit too mature and taciturn in the role, and he lacked the requisite poetic nature the role required. Other actors like Douglass Montgomery and Jeffrey Lynn were considered, but they didn't do it for Selznick, or anyone else.

That left Selznick with few viable choices. He kept coming back to the idea that Leslie Howard would have been perfect in the part ten or so years ago. If only they could get him to look younger in front of the camera. So, with a lot of money, and a lot of persuasion, and a little bribery... Howard took the part. And hated doing it all, just the same.

by Anonymousreply 5206/13/2011

I heard that Howard never even bothered to read the book! I think he may have acted the part okay, if a bit too British and femme as others have stated, but the viewer needed to see at least SOME of what Scarlett sees in Ashley. We know he's wrong for her and Rhett is right, but he still must have some appeal and Howard has almost none. I would have liked to have seen either Randolph Scott or David Manners in the part. Here's Manners:

by Anonymousreply 5306/14/2011

And here's Scott:

by Anonymousreply 5406/14/2011

Jeffery Lynn wouldn't have been a bad choice for Ashley. If they cast it today, they'd have to keep in mind what the story, on film, is going for. Ashley is a courtly, dreamy, detached guy with Liberal ideas that are incompatable with the time and place.%0D %0D Rhett is a dashing, edgy, somewhat mysterious guy who fascinates even as his presence is very disquieting to "polite society." Remember. He's a blockade runner who is very well travelled for those times.%0D He's practical, pragmatic and rough when he needs to be.%0D %0D %0D He "isn't received." he has no patience with the pretensions of politeness and fakery that are emblematic of Southern Society. But he acknowledges it's value as a good environment for his kid. %0D %0D He doesn't want Bonnie to be ostracized or controversial or treated as an outsider because her parents are so unconventionally not "Southern."%0D %0D Melanie is reassuring because she seems mild-mannered and very polite and understanding. But she shares Ashley's and Rhett's and Scarlett's perspectives in many ways, but she is stronger that Ashley, and admiring of Scarlett, and she really thinks the world of "Cap'n Butler."%0D %0D I point these things out as we go about re-casting. I read that Margaret Mitchell had Clark Gable in mind when she wrote the character of Rhett. There was no other choice for him in her mind. Personally, I liked Leslie Howard, and thought the casting was brilliant all around. I especially liked Belle Watling who looked just like her name.

by Anonymousreply 5506/14/2011

Adapatations of novels, even extremely popular ones, into films quite often involve changes much more radical than making a secondary lead older than he is in the book. I find nothing difficult in accepting that Wilkes was older than he is in the book, and find the casting of Howard one of the triumphs of the movie.


by Anonymousreply 5606/14/2011

The most obvious choice for Ashley must have been Laurence Olivier but I'm sure he never would have deigned to play a supporting role at that time of his career.%0D %0D I wonder why David Niven wasn't considered as he had much of the classiness and charm of a younger Leslie Howard but was also quite hot? %0D %0D Perhaps because he wasn't blonde and couldn't carry off a blonde wig?%0D %0D I think it's imperative that Ashley is blonde and therefore can't imagine Tyrone Power who was too close in appearance to Clark Gable, though admittedly softer. And Randolph Scott, who was blonde and not soft, did not have the refinement necessary for Ashley.%0D %0D Jeffrey Lynn and Douglass Montgomery were not the A List stars that Leslie Howard was in the mid-1930s and that must have played into Selznick decisions as well.

by Anonymousreply 5706/14/2011

"He 'isn't received.'"%0D %0D This is what I've never understood. If he wasn't "received," then why was he at the Wilkes' b-b-q? Does it mean he could go to big parties, but not call on people in their homes if he was alone?

by Anonymousreply 5806/14/2011

The Wilkes were unconventional. I'd imagine, since he was their guest, it wasn't thru any "womenfolk" that he was asked. Isn't received" meant that when it came to making the required calls, and leaving cards, and doing the social things in someone's homes, he was never invited, but this big "y'all come" type BBQ for everyone in shouting distance was something they could get around. %0D %0D IMO, it was a flaw of the book, that it wasn't clear how he got to the BBQ. His family was well thought of and he was the "Black Sheep" because he took a girl on an extended "buggyride" unescorted and refused to marry her.%0D %0D I have a cousin who's a recovering drug addict. She's in her late 30's. She's been fine for the past four years. But she "isn't received." She gets invited to two big gatherings, Christmas, and a summer reunion picnic. %0D %0D Other than that, she's never invited to anyone's home, no birthdays, or special occasions. Just the once or twice a year, so the curious can evaluate her and gossip for weeks afterwards. It's a pretty cruel environment. I often wonder why she comes. She's always very polite, soft spoken, and nervous.

by Anonymousreply 5906/14/2011

I can't imagine in those days of Hollywood machismo, no matter how Ashley is described or perceived in the book, that it ever occured to Selznick that Ashley had to have any sort of sexual allure. %0D %0D To George Cukor perhaps, but never to Selznick.

by Anonymousreply 6006/14/2011

[quote]If he wasn't "received," then why was he at the Wilkes' b-b-q? %0D %0D He "isn't received" in Charleston where he's from and where everyone knows the scandal about the girl. He can come and go in rural Georgia undisturbed.

by Anonymousreply 6106/14/2011

In the book, its explained that Rhett is at the barbecue as a guest of FrankKennedy, with whom he was in Jonesboro, on business. It us explained to be an awkward situation but that to forced Frank go not bring Rhett along would be more awkward.

by Anonymousreply 6206/14/2011

[quote]I heard that Howard never even bothered to read the book!

The running joke in the wonderful film on the making of GWTW, "The Scarlett O'Hara Wars" is that none of the innumerable people involved had read the book...

As for why Rhett was at the BBQ, Frank Kennedy %E2%80%93 Suellen O'Hara's then-fiance and eventually Scarlett's second husband -- brought him along as a courtesy since they were involved in a business deal together. Way later in the book, he rues the day he brought Rhett to the Wilkes' party...

by Anonymousreply 6306/14/2011

I think Franchot Tone would have been a good Ashley.

by Anonymousreply 6406/14/2011

Leslie Howard was the epitome of the upper-class Englishman, but in reality he was a Hungarian Jew.

by Anonymousreply 6506/14/2011

Only on the DataLounge would you find anyone defending Leslie Howard's epic miscasting and poor performance in GONE WITH THE WIND!

by Anonymousreply 6606/14/2011

I don't understand the people above who say that he didn't even attempt a Southern accent. Like V. Leigh, he absolutely nailed the aristocratic Southern sound. And Gable did well with his assignment, too, as did Olivia de H.

by Anonymousreply 6706/14/2011

[quote][Describing one of his Gone with the Wind (1939) costumes]: I look like that sissy doorman at the Beverly Wilshire, a fine thing at my age.

[quote]I hate the damn part. I'm not nearly beautiful or young enough for Ashley, and it makes me sick being fixed up to look attractive.

Sounds like he went into it determined to fail.

by Anonymousreply 6806/14/2011

Love this thread, love the novel, which should be, imho, required reading for everybody in high school.%0D %0D And let thier be no perception that I take that position as an endorsement of Mitchell's odious racial politics. %0D %0D But, precisely because she so starkly exposes the attitudes of both Northerners and Southerners when it comes to race and class position within the white community, "GWTW" is, by far, the best primer on exposing the roots of why race relations and social status are the way they are in 2011.%0D %0D I'm not a fan of the film because it betrays a central, if not Mitchell's MOST central aspect of the story- Rhett is so careful to never tell Scarlett he loves her, knowing she would hold it over his head "like a whip."%0D %0D Instead, within a half hour into the film, he does preciselt that.%0D %0D Epic fail.

by Anonymousreply 6906/14/2011

ooops, make that precisely.

by Anonymousreply 7006/14/2011

I honestly think the reason Leslie Howard was so weak in his role was because Vivien Leigh was a BITCH to ge talong with aside from the traditional factors.

I mean look at his scenes with De Havilland!Not only were they so convincing and Leslie literally became Percy Blakeny (whom appearaed as Ashley Wilkes as I pictured him while reading the Book when I watched the Leslie Howard version of Scarlet Pimpernel) but the CHEMISTRY between De Havilland and Howard was SMOKING HOT! It felt as though they really were in LOVE with each other!

Honestly even thoughhe was old by that time, I felt if there was a Civil War movie exclusively just between De Havilland and Howard, it would have been HOT CHEMISTRY, dare I say more so than Gable and Leigh portrayed onscreen? I honestly thought the most Romantic bits of the movie were between Ashley and Melanie, not Rhett and Scarlett!

Just go rewatch the Movie and observe the scenes between Howard and De Havilland. You'll be shocked at how convincing Howard was as Ashley Wilkes during those scenes!

by Anonymousreply 7104/23/2013

They were looking for someone who'd project the exact opposite of Gable's "dashing, masculine" blockade runner, and man of bad reputation. They were deliberate polar oppositesin the book and the movie.

Ashley was grace, charm, and intelligence. Scarlett admired intelligence, grace, and charm even if she had no time for it. She'd carefully developed the superficial, flattering facaade men admired and was trying to fit into that life style as her mother had.

by Anonymousreply 7204/23/2013

yes....completely agree with R64.....Franchot Tone would've been a far superior choice for Ashley! Never occurred to me until I read your post. Would've been way better than the simpering Leslie Howard.....he was always the weakest link in an otherwise perfect cast.

by Anonymousreply 7304/23/2013

r71, I buy the Ashley/Melanie connection certainly but in no way would I describe the connection between those characters or those actors as hot chemistry.

For one thing they were cousins, but more than that, neither of the characters were earthy, vital people who even seem that interested in sex. They were soul mates certainly with a deep connection, but any focus on their sex lives almost seems like it would cheapen the depiction of that connection.

by Anonymousreply 7404/24/2013

[quote]Ugly, horse-faced and way too old.

Leave me the hell out of this, you bitch.

by Anonymousreply 7504/24/2013
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