Rhett (Gable) and Scarlett (Leigh) embrace, showing off the fabulous costume work of Walter Plunkett.
Rhett (Gable) and Scarlett (Leigh) embrace, showing off the fabulous costume work of Walter Plunkett.Courtesy Everett Collection
Rhett (Gable) and Scarlett (Leigh) embrace, showing off the fabulous costume work of Walter Plunkett.
Leigh, Gable and Fleming take a breather on set
Scarlett perfects her pout, standing alone, yet still the center of everything at the Twelve Oaks barbecue.
On December 10, 1939, with the supervision of the Los Angeles Fire Department, Selznick's Atlanta burned on a Culver City lot.
Gone With The Wind
December 25, 1939 Issue of LIFE Magazine
December 25, 1939 Issue of LIFE Magazine
Margaret Mitchell attended the Atlanta gala, despite having stated she wanted nothing to do with the movie.
Vivien Leigh & Her Oscar
Gone with the Wind: The Great American Movie 75 Years later book jacket
Rhett (Gable) and Scarlett (Leigh) embrace, showing off the fabulous costume work of Walter Plunkett.
Courtesy Everett Collection
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LIFE Gone With the Wind: The Great American Movie 75 Years Later

Oct 01, 2014

As the greatest Hollywood Civil War epic of them all approaches its 75th birthday, now is as good a time as any to take a look back at the movie that Roger Ebert, in his four-star 1998 review, called "a towering landmark of film." (Gone With the Wind debuted on Dec. 15, 1939, in Atlanta.)

"Gone With the Wind," Ebert wrote, "presents a sentimental view of the Civil War, in which . . . the war was fought not so much to defeat the Confederacy and free the slaves as to give Miss Scarlett O'Hara her comeuppance. But we've known that for years; the tainted nostalgia comes with the territory. [It] is still a towering landmark of film, quite simply because it tells a good story, and tells it wonderfully well."

Here, LIFE.com presents photos from the recent book, Gone With the Wind: The Great American Movie 75 Years Later.

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

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