Frankly, my dear, I just don't give a damn!

Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 08:28 pm
Is there anyone else out there in the English speaking world that cringes whenever they hear that famous line as voiced by Clark Gable in "Gone With The Wind"?

For those not familiar with the scenario -
After years of torment, war, misery and tragedy during which Scarlet O'Hara has lied, cheated and destroyed the lives of people who loved her by her scheming and wickedness, she finally realises that if her husband Rhett Butler leaves her as he is in the process of doing, she will have nothing, she will be alone, friendless and unloved. She also realises how much she really loves Rhett. She begs him to stay, to forgive her (again!) and is full of remorse but slips back into her usual method of getting her own way by playing the sweet, helpless thing who has been victimised by life, and says things to him like "If you leave me, how will I cope, what will I do?" Tempted to stay, Rhett realises that Scarlet will never change. He can take no more, utters the famous line, after which he turns and walks away.

As I see it, if the emphasis had been placed on
FRANKLY, he is being very honest about his statement;
MY DEAR, I could see it as sarcasm;
I, he could be be advising her to tell it to someone who cares;
JUST, says how low she is on his list of priorities;
DON'T GIVE, represents inaction; and
A DAMN, this seems to me to be the natural spot for the emphasis to be.

In the movie, the emphasis was placed on GIVE. It is an expression that has become quite common. It has annoyed me for years. Can someone justify it for me, please? If I can rationalise it, it will cease to bother me.
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Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 08:35 pm
Rationalize? He said he doesn't care albeit more harshly. At the time the film was made "damn" was considered a swear and it created an uproar that Gable used it in the film.
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Reply Sat 24 Apr, 2010 10:33 pm
Your interpretation seems perfect to me, Ragnel.

WELCOME to the forum.

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Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2010 12:19 am
When you say DONT GIVE represents inaction, I would take it to mean he has given and now suggests she start to give...which is why he emphasises GIVE.
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Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2010 09:26 am
Probably the most famous movie line ever.
Makes me swoon.
Took all of Scarlett's power away . . .

Much more effective than: "Really, I don't care.'

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Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2010 02:11 pm
I don't think that "just" was part of the quote. Check it out on Google.
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Reply Sun 25 Apr, 2010 06:14 pm
I think the emphasis in statements like this is always on the verb if there is any emphasis at all. Try "I haven't got a CLUE." No way it sounds right with the focus on clue.
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Reply Fri 23 Aug, 2013 06:55 pm
I was very gratified to read you post as the phrase "don't give a damn" delivered with the emphasis on the "give" (a la Clark Gable) has annoyed me for years. I believe that people started to say it with this emphasis in about 1990 as I first noticed it around then and I would surely have noticed it earlier if it had been common. I don't know why it's so prevalent but I wish it would cease.
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