Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Frankly, My Dear," The Best Ornament I Refuse To Recommend!

The Good: Good balance, Good detailing, Good sound chip
The Bad: Sound clip is ridiculously inappropriate for Christmas.
The Basics: The “Frankly, My Dear” Gone With The Wind ornament may be a technically decent Hallmark Christmas ornament, but the sound clip features the worst possible clip for the holidays!

I’ve never been one of those people who complains that Christmas has become too commercial, nor one who kvetches extensively about things being inappropriate. But in the case of the Gone With The Wind “Frankly, My Dear” Hallmark ornament, I think Hallmark has gone too far and created one of the most poorly conceived, if wonderfully detailed ornaments from last holiday season. So, I shall draw my line in the sand and say this is too far! Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a fan of Gone With The Wind and the artistry of the “Frankly, My Dear” ornament is decent; it is, of all things, the sound chip that makes this an utterly offensive ornament. So, unlike my gripe with the 2010 Scarlett O’Hara ornament (click here for that review!), my issue is not with the craftsmanship of the ornament.

For those unfamiliar with the film, Gone With The Wind (click here for my review!) includes an iconic scene wherein Clark Gable’s character Rhett Butler decides he has had enough of his love, Scarlett O’Hara. At that moment, he walks to the door and as she begs for him to keep the relationship viable, he turns and leaves, refusing her wish. It is a key moment in the film, it is one that has been alluded to many times and it is one that makes for an absolutely terrible Christmas ornament. After all, at the time when people are supposed to be coming together, this depicts a terribly unromantic separation.

It is Rhett Butler, preparing to walk out the door while Scarlett reaches for him, that is the subject of the “Frankly, My Dear” Hallmark Ornament. To add extra value to this one, Hallmark provided this ornament with a very impressive sound chip.


The “Frankly, My Dear” ornament recreates the moment before Rhett Butler walks out. The ornament includes the door, Rhett, Scarlett and wood floor from the mansion all cast in solid plastic. The ornament, released in 2009, is a mixed bag as it has a decent and generally accurate sculpt of the characters, amazing detailing on the stained glass windows and decent costuming details. But the faces of both characters are lacking in detailing and realistic shading, which makes the characters look a little more like animated versions of themselves as opposed to real live people.

Still, Hallmark clearly made an effort on both Rhett and Scarlett as their costumes and even hair have pretty incredible molding and painted details. Still, Scarlett has no rouge to her cheeks and Butler’s eyes do not have any of the color or vivacity of Clark Gable’s actual eyes. Measuring nine and a quarter centimeters tall, thirteen centimeters wide and three and three-quarters centimeters deep, the “Frankly, My Dear” ornament is a decent-sized Hallmark ornament and one that actually seems reasonably priced at the $24.00 original issue price.

The Hallmark “Frankly, My Dear” ornament is made of a durable plastic and has Rhett Butler, bag in hand, with Scarlett reaching out to him. The characters are molded to the floor and the ornate doors to the mansion are included in the little diorama ornament, accurately capturing a sense of drama and movement in the piece. Both characters and the setting are colored properly, with the muted browns of the wood giving it a realistic look and the blacks of both outfits looks vivid and deep. The truly intricate element to the sculpt is the stained glass windows on the doors. These might just be translucent decals, but they look just like they are supposed to, mimicking the doorway of in a recognizable fashion with a level of detail that is extraordinary.

However, the faces are recognizably sculpted, but poorly colored. Neither Rhett nor Scarlett looks quite like Clark Gable or Vivian Leigh. They look like caricatures of their characters with minimal facial detailing or coloring. Even Rhett’s mustache seems a little too pronounced. This is odd when one considers that both characters have folds in their clothing and enough molded detailing to the hair that neither figure looks like they are wearing a helmet. Instead, both look like they have real hair, but have skin that has been bleached of depth or shading. The molding is not flawless, either; Scarlett’s hand clearly does not have detailing for her fingernails. This ornament remains fairly easy to find at Hallmark stores, so there is no reason (yet) to look for it in the secondary market, despite the fact that the scene and sound chip are pretty popular. This ornament features a battery to power the sound effects.


As a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, “Frankly, My Dear” has a sound effect, but no light effect. On the bottom and back of the floor, there is a well-concealed button. The button, when pressed, activates the sound chip. The sound chip actually contains a single sound clip from Gone With The Wind. Rather extraordinarily, the chip has several seconds of actual dialogue from the scene the ornament represents that plays with sufficient volume out the bottom of the ornament. As a result, when one depresses the button, Vivian Leigh as Scarlett begs Rhett Butler to not leave her. The ornament utters the classic lines “Rhett... if you go, where shall I go, what shall I do?” (Vivian) to which Rhett Butler says, “Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.” There is a bit more to the quote and the sound chip than just that quick exchange and Scarlett begs Rhett to stay and he walks out on her.

Here is where I take my stand. What a horrible ornament! Seriously, how much do you have to hate your family or loved ones to want them to hear a woman begging for her partner’s love and being told “no” on Christmas?! Is there no one at Hallmark that thought (or said) “Yeah, this is a classic moment in cinematic history, but it makes for a terrible holiday-themed ornament?!” Blowing the shark up in Jaws or the heart attack of Vito Corleone are equally significant to cinephiles, but they would make for poor ornaments. I cannot think who would truly love this on Christmas Day coming from a loved one; it seems like the cruelest way to break up with a partner during the holidays. As a result, I cannot recommend this one; if Hallmark thought the moment were so iconic, this would have been fine without a sound chip. As it is, the sound chip has an extensive clip that might be the worst Christmas message ever.


As with all ornaments, the intent of the Hallmark Keepsake “Frankly, My Dear” ornament is to be hung on a Christmas Tree. And for those creating the ultimate movie nostalgia Christmas Tree, the “Frankly, My Dear” ornament is a surprisingly affordable option that looks good beside ornaments from The Wizard Of Oz and prior Gone With The Wind ornaments. The ornament has the standard brass hook loop embedded into the top center of the doors and it looks fine there. This is fairly unobtrusive and necessary for the ornament. The “Frankly, My Dear” ornament is surprisingly light and it sways slightly when hung from a hook on the brass loop. In addition to being quite light, the balance for the ornament is perfect. The floor weighs down the ornament so it hangs perfectly level, making for an ideal holiday ornament as far as balance goes.


Hallmark Keepsake began delving into the collectibles market in 1991 with Star Trek when it introduced the exceptionally limited edition original U.S.S. Enterprise ornament (click here for that review!). Within a few years, virtually every classic film franchise jumped on the bandwagon and began merchandising with Hallmark as well. Classic properties like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, The Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind have been made into Hallmark Keepsake Christmas ornaments. “Frankly, My Dear” is one of the only Gone With The Wind ornaments on the market and the only one mass produced for the franchise in 2009 (there was an exceptionally limited one as well). Fans of the book and film seem to be appropriately lukewarm to the “Frankly, My Dear” ornament and perhaps they, too think the sound clip is a bit much (though, I suppose the people who buy Christmas ornaments hoping they will have a woman begging for her – emotional – life have found this to be a particularly delightful collectible. Regardless of the reason, this seems to be more than adequately produced and is not likely to be a great investment piece.


Fans of Gone With The Wind, Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, and Hallmark ornaments are likely to be split on this ornament. But for me, the sound clip makes it very easy for me to steer clear of this ornament and recommend others do the same. After all, think carefully about what the ornament actually says and it is a remarkably tough sell!

For other Hallmark ornaments reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
2010 The Pensieve Harry Potter ornament
2009 Just The Right Tree Peanuts Ornament
2009 Retrieving The Idol Indiana Jones ornament

8/10 recommend against buying!

For other ornament reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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