40 must-watch movies to consider yourself a film buff

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Gone With the Wind (1939)

I’ll be honest with you: I don’t like Gone With the Wind. I’ve seen it several times. Although I appreciate its artistry, the racial issues don’t sit well with me (as they don’t for many people), and Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett is insufferable for three whole hours.

That being said, you can’t be a film buff and not have seen it (or at least key parts of it). Margaret Mitchell’s sweeping Civil War novel was always going to be a tough sell, and the story of how Gone With the Wind got made is a movie in itself — in fact, there was a documentary made about it a few decades ago.

The story of Scarlett O’Hara (Leigh), her romance with rascally rogue Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), and how they live through the Civil War is sweeping and epic, to be true. The film is a true testament to Hollywood moviemaking that, alongside The Wizard of Oz, set the town for what classic, studio-era films could provide for mass audiences.

It’s also worth watching for Hattie McDaniel’s performance; she went on to be the first African-American woman to win an Academy Award despite being banned from the ceremony — as well as several stops on the film’s press tour — because of her race. As a historical milestone for cinema, I recommend it, but it is a film that compels you to look at the role of race in this country and how Hollywood chose to portray it (or not).

Where to Watch It: TCM will air it July 18 at 8pm ET. Amazon Prime Video has it to stream, as well as Google, Apple, Vudu, YouTube, and PlayStation.