Showing posts with label David Selznick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Selznick. Show all posts

Friday, January 26, 2018

Scarlett's Opening Scene in Gone With the Wind

On January 26, 1939, Vivien Leigh reported to work, for her first day of filming, on the set of Gone With the Wind. Finally, Vivien's dream of playing Scarlett O'Hara, a dream she'd been carrying with her since she first read the book, was about to come true.

The first scene scheduled, for shooting that day, was the front porch scene at Tara, with Scarlett and the Tarleton boys discussing the possibility of war. This is the scene in which the world would be introduced to Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara. The Tarleton twins were played by Fred Crane (Brent) and George Reeves (Stuart).  Over the course of the next nine and a half months, this opening scene would be filmed a total of five times. George Cukor directed it the first two times and Victor Fleming directed it the last three times.

After viewing the first attempt at this scene, producer David O. Selznick was not pleased. He didn't like the twins' hair color or style. In a memo dated January 30, 1939, David Selznick wrote the following to George Cukor: I feel very strongly that the hairdress we used on the twins makes them look grotesquely like a pair of Harpo Marx comics...because of the color of their hair. I would like Mr. Westmore to redress their hair and I would have him arrange with Mr. Plunkett for me to see them again in their next costumes and with their hair re-dressed before they work.

The first scene filmed on January 26, 1939.

Ray Klune, the production manager, recalled the following: Everybody was nervous and it showed in the next day's rushes. George had Vivien on too high a key, way up there. David felt that she was playing it as though it were the first act of a dress rehearsal. The same thing with the boys... they were overdoing it.

There's also a second memo dated January 30, in which Selznick thinks it would be better to use the white prayer dress for Scarlett's opening scene. For whatever reason, that idea is abandoned and Vivien Leigh continues to wear the barbecue dress.

For the second filming of this scene, George Reeves and Fred Crane showed up with a slightly different shade of hair color and a new 'do. Their curls were now gone. Scarlett still wore the barbecue dress, but now sported a black choker. However, Selznick wasn't pleased with the lighting.

Fred Crane, Vivien Leigh & George Reeves try this scene for the 2nd time.

By now, George Cukor had left the production and Victor Fleming was at the helm. Selznick darts off another memo, this time to Ray Klune, which is dated February 20:  We will start shooting again on Monday. Please get together with Mr. Fleming immediately in connection with the opening scene. We should start with the twins and then go to Gerald and Scarlett to permit you to change the condition of Tara. It would be my preference, if there is no reason against it, and if Fleming is agreeable, to then jump into retakes in the Bazaar, followed by Rhett and Scarlett on the McDonough Road.

The third time was not the charm. Scarlett and the Tarleton twins were moved from the side of the porch to the front of the porch.

The third time was not the charm!

Image from pinterest

...according to Fred [Crane], the film’s technical advisor, [Susan Myrick] who was a Daughter of the Confederacy, informed Selznick that 'a young girl showing that much bosom wouldn’t be sitting out with two young men unchaperoned in the afternoon.' (Source).

So, for the fourth time, the opening scene was filmed again. This time with Vivien Leigh in the white prayer dress, which was, by far, a more appropriate outfit for a young lady. Alas, Vivien looked too tired and Selznick sent her away for a break. Vivien had been working almost non-stop since January 26. She was exhausted and it showed.

Image from pinterest

Getting ready to film Scarlett's opening scene for the fourth time.

In 1960, Vivien discussed filming the opening scene for the fourth time and the fifth time: On the last day of shooting, we had to film the first scene of the picture all over again. The scene where I sit as a girl of sixteen, on the porch of Tara, saying,'Everyone is talking of war, war, war.' When we shot the scene again, David Selznick saw it and said to me, 'You look too old and too ill for the scene. Better take a holiday.' So I went off to France with Larry and came back [filmed it for the fifth time] and 'Gone With the Wind' was finished. 

The final filming of the front porch scene.

On October 12th, Vivien went before the cameras one last time as Scarlett O'Hara. During her time away from Hollywood, Vivien traveled to New York City, where she reunited with Laurence Olivier and also found the time to screentest for Rebecca. Then, Vivien and Larry traveled to England, before finally returning to Hollywood. Vivien showed up fresh and relaxed on the set for the final time and created cinematic history.

Perfection at last! (image from blueray)
Gone With the Wind was released two months later to great acclaim. David O. Selznick's attention to detail and strive toward perfection paid off in ways he couldn't possibly imagine. Reviewers loved the movie:

In its length alone, Gone With the Wind is the most imposing spectacle ever to reach the screen. It is magnificent, too, in its superb color, in its scrupulous details, in its scope, in its technical virtuosity, in its sheer extravagance. The film is dominated by Vivien Leigh. One carries away from the picture a rich store of unforgettable images. 

No puny adjectives fit Gone With the Wind. It is the most lavish, probably the most magnificent, ever to come out of Hollywood. 

The excitement of it will take your breath away...The spectator is convinced he is sitting in on history...The novel of the decade has been turned into the cinema of the century.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

15 Things About "Gone With the Wind" and the Oscars

The Oscars are almost upon us, so I thought it would be fun to look back to when Gone With the Wind swept the awards' ceremony. The 12th Annual Academy Awards took place on February 29th, 1940, at the Coconaut Grove, located inside the Ambassador Hotel.

Arriving at the Oscars: David Selznick, Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier, Olivia de Havilland and Jock Whitney
1. David O. Selznick and his wife, Irene, hosted a pre-Oscar party at their home on the day of the Oscars. They had invited all the nominees and their guests from Gone With the Wind. When it was time to leave for the Oscars, David jumped in the first car with some of the guests, which included Vivien Leigh & Laurence Olivier, completely forgetting about his wife. Irene was so mad that when she finally made it to the Oscars, (on her own), she refused to speak to David for the rest of the night.

Olivia chats across the table, while Vivien Leigh & Irene Selznick have a tete-a-tete. About David? Hmmm... 
2. At the Oscars, Bob Hope, in his first gig as Oscar host, joked that it was “a benefit for Dave Selznick" and that Selznick should've worn roller-skates, since he came up to the podium so much.

Bob Hope emcees the Academy Awards
3. Gone With the Wind swept the Oscars, winning eight competitive Oscars and two special awards. The nominations were as follows: 
Best Actor: Clark Gable
Best Actress:  Vivien Leigh (winner)
Best Supporting Actress: Hattie McDaniel (winner)
Best Supporting Actress: Olivia de Havilland
Best Screenplay: Sidney Howard (winner)
Best Director: Victor Fleming (winner)
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler (winner)
Cinematography (Color): Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan (winner)
Film Editing:  Hal C. Kern and James E. Newcom (winner)
Music (Original Score): Max Steiner
Best Picture: Selznick International Pictures (David Selznick) (winner)
Sound Recording: Samuel Goldwyn Studio Sound Department, Thomas T. Moulton, Sound Director
Special Effects: John R. Cosgrove, Fred Albin and Arthur Johns
Scientific or Technical Award:  F.R. Abbott, Haller Belt, Alan Cook, Bausch & Lomb Optical Co., Mitchell Camera Company, Mole-Richardson Company, Charles Handley, David Joy, National Carbon Co., Winton Hoch, Technicolor Motion Picture Corp., Don Musgrave, Selznick International Pictures, Inc.

Additional Awards:
Special Award: William Cameron Menzies, for outstanding achievement in the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood in the production of "Gone with the Wind."
Irving Thalberg Award: David Selznick

David O. Selznick with the Irving Thalberg Award and Ernest Martin Hopkins
4. Clark Gable and his wife, Carole Lombard, skipped the Awards ceremony. The Los Angeles Times leaked the winners beforehand, so one reason Gable and Lombard may not have attended is that they knew he hadn't won Best Actor for his role in Gone With the Wind. 

Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and David O. Selznick
5. Victor Fleming also skipped the Academy Awards, saying he was too sick to attend.  David Selznick accepted the award on his behalf. The next day, the Academy had all of the winners report for photo ops with their statuettes.

Victor Fleming
6. Y. Frank Freeman was asked to present the award for Best Picture. Freeman joked, The only reason I was called upon to give this honor is because I have a Southern accent. Upon handing Selznick the award, Freeman said,  I never saw so many soldiers as were used in "Gone With the Wind." Believe me, if the Confederate Army had that many, we would have licked you damn Yankees.

David O. Selznick and his Best Picture Academy Award
7. When David Selznick accepted the award for Best Picture, he must have been feeling a little sorry for Olivia de Havilland not winning the Best Supporting Actress Award. While on the podium, he said that for Olivia’s brilliant work, the picture might have fallen apart.

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Jock Whitney
8. David O. Selznick’s Oscar, for  Best Picture for GWTW, was sold at auction in 1999 to Michael Jackson for $1.54 million. This is the highest amount ever paid for a statuette.

Irene Selznick, Jock Whitney, Olivia de Havilland, David Selznick, Vivien Leigh & Laurence Olivier
9. Hattie McDaniel received a standing ovation upon her arrival at the Oscars. Hattie wore a blue dress with a gardenia corsage along with gardenias in her hair. Her date for the evening was Ferdinando Yorba.

Hattie McDaniel with her date
10. Both Olivia de Havilland and Hattie McDaniel were nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Hattie won, making history. At that time, Best Supporting Actors/Actresses received a plaque instead of the statuette. 

Hattie McDaniel at the podium
11. Hattie McDaniel willed her Academy Award to Howard University. Unfortunately, Howard University has lost her award. It hasn’t been seen since the early 1970s.

Hattie McDaniel with her Best Supporting Actress Award
12. Vivien Leigh arrived at 9:30pm, but didn’t receive her Academy Award until 1:15am.  When she returned to her table, Bette Davis, nominated for Best Actress for Dark Victory, congratulated Vivien on her win.

Bette Davis attends the 1940 Oscars for which she was a Best Actress nominee
13. When Vivien Leigh returned to England at the end of 1940, she left her Best Actress Oscar in the states with her good friend and secretary, Sunny Lash. She didn’t collect it until 1950, when she returned to Hollywood to film  A Streetcar Named Desire. At the time, she said it was too heavy to cart back to England.

David O. Selznick and Vivien Leigh
14. Vivien Leigh’s Gone With the Wind Oscar was sold at auction fetching $510,000 in 1993, at that time, the highest amount ever paid for an Academy Award. It’s now part of the James Tumblin Collection.

Vivien Leigh and her Best Actress Academy Award
15. A shot of the interior of the Coconaut Grove, located inside the Ambassador Hotel on Oscar night, 1940. Hattie wasn't allowed to sit at the Gone With the Wind table, so she and her date sat in the back of the room. They can be seen in the lower right of the photo.

Academy Awards, February 29, 1940 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy 75th Anniversary, Gone With The Wind!

Gone With The Wind premiered seventy-five years ago, today, on December 15th, 1939, in Atlanta, Georgia. This premiere event was followed by two more: one in New York City and another in Hollywood.

Ann Rutherford was the first star to arrive in Atlanta for the three day premiere. Ann played Carreen O'Hara, Scarlett's youngest sister. Among the other arrivals were: Evelyn Keyes, who played Suellen; Alicia Rhett, whose character was India Wilkes; Laura Hope Crewes as Aunt Pittypat; and Ona Munson, who played Belle Watling.

Olivia de Havilland and Vivien Leigh arrive in Atlanta
David O. Selznick, Olivia de Havilland, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier arrived on the same flight in Atlanta on December 13th. Clark Gable and Carole Lombard arrived the following day on December 14th.

Olivia de Havilland, David Selznick, Vivien Leigh and Irene Selznick

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard
Some of the activities scheduled for the stars to participate in were a parade, the Junior League ball, a press party at the Georgian Terrace Hotel and of course, the premiere.

The press party was held at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in Atlanta. The hotel would also play host to the cast of Gone With The Wind, while they were in town, with the exception of Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. Vivien and Olivier stayed at a private residence, since they were both still married to other people at this time. Selznick didn't want the gossip mills to start grinding over the couple's lifestyle and adversely affect Gone With The Wind's potential ticket sales and earnings.

Ona Munson, the film's Belle Watling, poses with Wilbur Kurtz, Sr. Kurtz was a historian and technical advisor hired to work on Gone With The Wind by Selznick.

At a tea held by the Atlanta Women's Press Club, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, David O. Selznick and Olivia de Havilland pose with author, Margaret Mitchell (center) whom they were meeting for the first time in person.

Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable and Olivia de Havilland are pictured with the city parks manager, George Simmons. George took them on a tour of the Cyclorama, which is a 400 ft long, 18,000 pound painting of the battle of Atlanta.

In the car with Vivien Leigh are Governor Ed Rivers of Georgia, David O. Selznick- the producer of GWTW, and Jock Whitney- financial backer of GWTW.

David Selznick stands behind Vivien, as Laurence Olivier helps her from the car, as they arrive for the Junior League Ball. Willard George designed her cape, made from ermine and their black tails.

Vivien's dress for the Junior League Ball was specifically designed by Walter Plunkett for this event. Her black evening gown was made from lyons velvet, a stiff and thick velvet fabric fashionable at the time of the premiere. The dress featured a fitted bodice, trimmed in white ermine, and sleeves capped off by ermine and ermine tails. From Vivien's waist, the dress flared out into a wide, full skirt. Paul Flato designed Vivien's jewelry for the evening, which featured a diamond butterfly clip for her hair, a diamond & ruby bracelet and a diamond bow ring.

Ann Rutherford says a few words before the premiere. Before Gone With The Wind, Ann was best known as Polly, from the Andy Hardy movies.

Alicia Rhett, who played India Wilkes in the film, attends the premiere. Alicia was discovered in Selznick's famous Search for Scarlett.  

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard attend the movie premiere of Gone With The Wind. Carole wore a medieval cape of blush satin with a train.

This is Margaret Mitchell's night and Atlanta's night, Clark said. I want to see the picture just as you see it. Please Atlanta, allow me to see "Gone With The Wind" tonight just as a spectator.

Vivien Leigh in two publicity shots showing off her movie premiere gown. One source sites this dress as having been designed by Walter Plunkett, the costume designer for the movie. The gown is of gold lame, draped in Oriental fashion, with harem hem line and draped girdle accenting the small waist. Girdle and the short sleeves are quilted in rose pattern and studded with gold sequins. Worn with the gown is jewelry of topaz and diamonds set in gold. Necklace and bracelet are of acorn and leaf design.

Needless to say, the premiere of Gone With The Wind was wildly successful. The biggest downside to the premiere was the fact that Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly Mcqueen, Oscar Polk and Everett Brown were not allowed to attend due to segregation laws in effect at that time.

Gone With The Wind premiered at the Loew's Grand theater in downtown Atlanta. The theater boasted a false front made to look like Tara, Scarlett's antebellum home. Kleig lights and magnolia tress surrounded the columned front. Tickets to the premiere were $10 each with some ticket scalpers netting up to $200 for each ticket.

For, by any and all standards, Mr. Selznick's film is a handsome, scrupulous and unstinting version of the 1,037-page novel, matching it almost scene for scene with a literalness that not even Shakespeare or Dickens were accorded in Hollywood, casting it so brilliantly one would have to know the history of the production not to suspect that Miss Mitchell had written her story just to provide a vehicle for the stars already assembled under Mr. Selznick's hospitable roof. To have treated so long a book with such astonishing fidelity required courage—the courage of a producer's convictions and of his pocketbook, and yet, so great a hold has Miss Mitchell on her public, it might have taken more courage still to have changed a line or scene of it. -NYT

 Happy Anniversay, GWTW!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gone With The Wind, Indeed!

Photoplay, March 1937
by Kirtley Baskette

Call out the riot squad! A new Civil War is raging! Who will play the principals in the world's best seller?

Time was when you could call a man a rat in Hollywood and get yourself a stiff poke in the nose. But now what you get is— "Rhett? Rhett Butler? Well— I don't know about that 'profile like an old coin' stuff, but I've been told I am rather masterful, and— "

Yes, and there was a day when you could call a woman scarlet in this town and find yourself looking into the business end of a male relative's shotgun. But now it's—"Scarlett? Scarlett O'Hara? Oh, do you really think so? Well, I wish you'd say that around Mr. Selznick. Of course, my eyes aren't exactly green, but unless they use Technicolor—”

Ever since that very small but very un-Reconstructed Rebel, Mistress Peggy Mitchell, of the Atlanta Mitchells, wrote a book called "Gone With the Wind," which went like a seventy mile gale over the country and whipped up a grade-A tornado, a civil war, the like of which Jeff Davis never dreamed, has been raging uncontrolled way out in Hollywood.

Houses are divided, brother against brother, husband against wife, butler versus pantry maid.

"Why, Judge," a woman told the court the other day, "this bum says the only man to play Rhett Butler is Warren William. How can I go on living with a cretin like that?"

"Yeah," countered the defendant, "and, Your Honor, she embarrassed me before my friends plugging for Ronald Colman. Ronald Colman—imagine! My business dropped off."

"Divorce granted," murmured the court, "although personally I've always thought Gary Cooper would be a natural for the part."

What is considerably worse, actors and actresses who have never been South of the Slot in San Francisco or below Twenty-third Street in Manhattan, whose closest tie to Dixie in fact, is a faint resemblance to Virginia ham, wander around calling people "Honey" in a languid, molasses manner. Mugs who always thought Pickett's charge was a labor demonstration, now demand real mint in their grog. Even the high yellows down on Central Avenue are brushing up on their southern accents.

It's really pretty awful. Of course if you haven't read the astounding book that has leaped clear out of the ordinary fiction league to become the marvel of modern American literature, all this may leave you as dizzy as a six-day bicycle rider. In that case, all I can say is that if you're around number sixty-seven on the waiting list and sound of wind and limb there is still hope.

But if you have, you'll understand why nerves are snapping from Burbank to Brentwood as the two juiciest parts in the history of Hollywood dangle like ripe luscious cherries just above tiptoe reach. For "Gone With the Wind" is all set to be made into the greatest moving picture of all time (they admit it). Only there isn't any Scarlett O'Hara. There isn't any Rhett Butler. The suspense is terrific.

Furthermore, the curious effect of this book, which now hovers around the million sales mark, is that the minute a gentle reader closes the back cover with the wistful hope that Scarlett will get another crack at Rhett someday, a crusading, militant, in fact belligerent one-man casting department is born. Yes Ma'am, and with a lusty squall.

So look what happens. Sixty thousand letters, wires, communications of all sorts, sent direct or forwarded by critics, columnists and radio commentators have poured in and keep pouring in to sweep the excitement higher and higher. The result is the biggest screen sweepstakes of modern movie history. The prize: fame, fortune and the greatest eager, ready-made audience any star ever dreamed about.

Who will win? Well— here are the favorites, complete with clockings, handicaps, and pole positions.

You pays your money and you takes your choice:

Ladies first, which means Rhett Butler—

Clark Gable is the odds on favorite. He probably will play the part. If he doesn't there may be a Revolution. The nation-wide choice, by a wide margin, he runs neck-and neck with Warner Baxter in the South, which, incidentally, will have plenty to say about the casting of this picture. Gable is also the big Hollywood favorite, although if you can't see him you can't see him at all. It's that way. Letters have poured in threatening boycotts and reprisals (honest) if he's cast as Rhett. The same if he isn't.

Clark is the right age, the perfect build, the effective sex quotient. On a very touchy point— whether or not he can put on a southern accent and wear it becomingly— he is doubtful. He would give a year of his life to play Rhett— why not? It would be the biggest monkey gland his career could conceivably manage.

But— Gable is among the most jealously hoarded of M-G-M stars. And Selznick International, not
M-G-M, copped this prize story of the century. M-G-M turned it down! Selznick International means John Hay Whitney and David Oliver Selznick. But again— David Oliver Selznick is married to Louis B. Mayer's daughter. Would Gable be available? What do you think?

Fredric March is the only actor so far officially tested for Rhett. Was the early choice, but seems to have faded in the back stretch. Would be available, eager and willing to play Rhett on a moment's notice. Runs about third in the terrific straw balloting which increases every day. Is regarded by millions as a great actor— many others do not agree. Played the other great sensational best seller title part, "Anthony Adverse." Consensus of opinion is that Fredric would be an adequate Rhett but that's all. Lacks the sinister sex considered absolutely essential to a great performance.

Warner Baxter has surprising support from Atlanta and the deep South. Is the best "sympathy" actor in the race. His recent sock hit in "To Mary—With Love" is considered an apt build-up. Warner has the strong support of all who picture Rhett Butler as a man who suffered and suffered. Is keeping his fingers crossed day and night because if he landed it would be "In Old Arizona" all over again for him. His contract, of course, is with Twentieth Century-Fox, which makes him eligible. Darryl Zanuck, who is a borrower of stars in the talent market, wouldn't dare bite the hand that feeds him and keep him locked up in the closet. Warner, too, is about the right age, a little on the oldish side. His weakness, too, is no powerful sex appeal.

Ronald Colman popped into the running through an erroneous press dispatch. But once in has remained a strong contender. Chief advantage is his spot as long term contract star with Selznick International, his decided romantic charm, suavity, age and sympathetic personality. Chief disadvantage his ever-lovin' britishness, hard for the folks down South to swallow when the story is almost a sectional issue.

Those are the favorites. But Cary Grant, Basil Rathbone, Edward Arnold haven't given up yet.

Now gents—it's your turn. For Scarlett O'Hara—

Tallulah Bankhead—shared the same bum steer announcement that brought Ronald Colman in. Was tested by Selznick twice, once in Hollywood while on the stage in "Reflected Glory." It was a simple color test but it gave the news-hawks ideas. Tested again in New York by Director George Cukor. Is a professional choice, being considered the best actress of all the candidates. Would satisfy Dixie, hailing originally from Alabama. Her pappy represents that state as Speaker of the House of Representatives in Washington. Talu could probably recapture a sugar-lipped drawl, all right, but the years and an aura of sophistication are against her. The part would be like long delayed manna from Heaven for her, bestowing the great screen break her rooters have long wailed has been denied a great artiste. Only a luke warm choice in the popular response. But vigorously opposed by an opinionated minority.

Miriam Hopkins is the red hot choice of Atlanta and the South. Leads other actresses by a nice margin in the letter deluge. One reason, she hails from Bainbridge, Georgia, right close to home. Is a good subject for color, if it is used, except that she'll have to wear a wig. Played Becky Sharp, the character generally compared with Scarlett O'Hara, but that might work against her.

BETTE DAVIS is the number one Hollywood selection. Just missed cinching the part by a matter of minutes. On her way to England, Bette was told by Warner's New York story board they were buying a great story for her, "Gone With the Wind." But by the time they wired Hollywood for an okay, the hammer had dropped. The day His Majesty's courts decided that Bette was a "naughty girl" and "must go back to jail" her low spirits were lifted by a columnist's clipping calling her the ideal Miss O'Hara. Answers to Scarlett now around the Warner lot. Bette is the only Yankee girl to score below that well-known line. Ranks third in the Cotton Belt. Is considered to be just the right age to handle the assignment and blessed with the right amount of— er— nastiness. No complaints from the home folks on her southern accent in "Cabin in the Cotton" or as Alabama Follansbee in "The Solid South" (stage).

But— Bette is in the doghouse, chained and collared, and one of the main issues of her legal whipping was her loan out demand. Warner’s can- probably would- keep her in the cooler. Selznick, in fact, is supposed to have said, "Bette Davis? Great— but could we get her?"

Margaret Sullavan holds second spot in returns from down yonder. Is a Virginia girl, and knows what to do when a lady meets a gentleman down South. Handled brilliantly the lead in "So Red the Rose," another Civil War picture. Fractious and fiery enough to make Scarlett a vivid character. Tagged next to Bette Davis in Hollywood.

And the Field— Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert and Jean Harlow.

Now as if puzzling about all this were not enough to set a body weaving baskets in the clink, Messrs. Selznick and Company announce that they want, for Scarlett and Rhett, not Hollywood stars at all. No— instead they have arranged to canvass all the finishing schools of Dixie, and ogle Junior Leaguers at very lovely teas and discover an "unknown"Scarlett. A similar search, minus the tea, is hoped to dig up an indigenous Rhett.

Thus, they say, everything will not only be peaches and cream for professional Southerners, but what is much more important, two brand new stars will be born. Why take other studio's stars and build 'em? Isn't this going to be the greatest picture of all time?

Well— as to the first idea— it's great if it works, is the opinion of the Hollywood wise ones. But it won't work, they say. Whom are you going to find in the sticks to handle parts like those? Whom could you dare gamble on?

And that "greatest picture of all time" stuff? It smacks strongly, I grant you, of the old mahoskus. It's press agent oil of the most ready' viscosity and has flowed freely around every epic from "The Great Train Robbery" to Shirley Temple's latest cutrick. But this time the answer that snaps right back out of your own skeptic brain is, "Why not?"

These gentlemen— Whitney and Selznick —  have, and they know they have, the greatest screen story of our day. If you don't think so, here's the cold cash proof: The day after they laid $50,000 on the line for the picture rights, another studio offered them $100,000. The next offer was boosted to $250,000. The last bid, not long ago, was $1,500,000 and an interest in the picture besides! Tie that.

They said "No" and they are still saying the same. Mr. Whitney and Mr. Selznick are not ribbon clerks. They shot $2,200,00 on "The Garden of Allah." They will pinch no pennies on "Gone With the Wind." If color will help it (and it probably will) they'll shoot an extra million. Sidney Howard is writing the script. George Cukor will direct. Walter Plunkett is designing costumes. These men are all top flight.

So you can be reasonably sure of this— when you finally you see "Gone With the Wind" you'll see a picture dressed in the best trappings of modern production, primed with meticulous preparation, artistic thoroughness and as many millions as it can comfortably stand.

But as for who will be Scarlett and who will be Rhett— well, the riot squads are doing a nice business, thank you. And good citizens of Hollywood scowl across Cahuenga Pass at North Hollywood muttering "Dam' Yanks!" While out in Beverly Hills the South Side of the Tracks is threatening to secede if somebody will only fire on the Brown Derby.

It looks as if we'll fight it out on this line if it takes all summer. Everybody's welcome, and usually it doesn't require a second invitation. Just casually mention the subject. You'll see. Matter of fact, the only person I can think of off-hand who doesn't seem to be at all upset about the matter is the lady who wrote the book.

Early in the fray, Margaret Mitchell allowed it would be nice if a Southern girl could play Scarlett. But the reaction was so violent that it must have surprised her. At any rate she announced the other day it was her one desire to remain only as the humble author, and to a close friend she confided:

"I don't care what they do to 'Gone With the Wind' in Hollywood. Just so they don't make General Lee win the war for a happy ending!"

Sunday, June 22, 2014

30 Things You May Not Know About Gone With The Wind

1. Four out of the five main cast members died in their fifites: Vivien Leigh (Scarlett) passed away at the age of 53; Clark Gable (Rhett) at 59; Leslie Howard (Ashley) at 50; and Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) at 57. Olivia de Havilland (Melanie) is still living. She currently resides in Paris, France.

Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Wilkes
2. Three directors worked on the film: George Cukor, Victor Fleming and Sam Wood. Only Victor Fleming received credit and the Oscar for Best Director.

3. The opening scene of Gone with the Wind was ultimately filmed five times. After the first time it was filmed, Selznick decided the Tarleton twins' hair was too orangey, so he had it re-shot. Then it was filmed again when Victor Fleming replaced George Cukor. Vivien Leigh looked too tired in another scene. And lastly, it was shot again, when according to Fred Crane, the etiquette expert Susan Myrick, said that no southern girl would show her bosom so early in the day, which is when they decided Vivien should wear the white, prayer dress.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett with the Tarleton Twins, played by Fred Crane and George Reeves, in one of the deleted scenes.
4. The first scene filmed was the burning of Atlanta, which was actually the burning of other movie sets on the backlot named Forty Acres, including the King Kong set.

5. After the barbecue at Twelve Oaks, there is a scene in which all the men are gathered together discussing war. This is the only scene in the movie in which all of Scarlett's future husbands (Charles Hamilton, Frank Kennedy and Rhett Butler) appear together.

6. According to Frank Buckingham, Clark Gable would sometimes eat garlic before his kissing scenes with Vivien Leigh. Buckingham was a film technician who worked for Alexander Korda. Korda sent him to observe the making of Gone With The Wind.

Clark Gable as Rhett and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett

7. The scene in which Scarlett gives Ashley a sash for his uniform, while he's home on Christmas leave, is the last scene that George Cukor directed.

Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard
8. Gone With The Wind is the only movie Alicia Rhett, who played India Wilkes, ever made. Originally, she read for the part of Melanie, but George Cukor didn't think she had enough acting experince to play Melanie, so he assigned her the part of India.

9. Alicia Rhett was an artist and sketched her co-stars during breaks while filming. Later in life, she painted a portrait of Alexandra Ripley, who went on to author Scarlett, the sequel to Gone With The Wind.

Alicia Rhett (India Wilkes) sketches Ann Rutherford (Carreen) while Evelyn Keyes (Suellen) looks on.
10. Vivien Leigh decided she'd be the one to play Scarlett, long before she arrived in Hollywood and auditioned. 'A curious incident was noted by film critic C.A. Lejeune, who had accompanied the cast [21 Days Together] on the last day of shooting down the Thames to Southend on a steamer. It had been raining and during the long wait between shots talk had turned to MGM's plan to make a movie of the current best-seller in America, Gone With The Wind. Someone suggested that Olivier would make the ideal Rhett Butler. "Larry won't play Rhett Butler," was Vivien's prophetic comment, "but I shall play Scarlett O'Hara, wait and see." '- Love Scene, by Jesse Lasky, Jr

11. David O. Selznick wanted Tallulah Bankhead to play Belle Watling. He also used Mae West's name in regard to the role as a publicity stunt. Selznick's final choice for Belle was Ona Munson.

Clark Gable and Ona Munson
12. Gone With The Wind marked the second time Thomas Mitchell and Barbara O'Neil (aka Mr. and Mrs. O'Hara) played a married couple. They'd previously played husband and wife in "Love, Honor and Behave."

Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O'Hara and Barbara O'Neil as Ellen O'Hara
13. Barbara O'Neil, Scarlett's mother Ellen, was only three years older than Vivien Leigh. Ms. O'Neil was born in 1910 and Vivien was born in 1913.

14. Hattie McDaniel's father, Henry, had been born into slavery and was a Civil War veteran. Hattie won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in 1940.

Hattie McDaniel as Mammy
15. Thomas Mitchell did not receive an Oscar nomination for Gone With The Wind. However, he was nominated for Stagecoach and won for Best Supporting Actor in 1940.

Oscar Night, 1940: Spencer Tracy, Vivien Leigh with her Oscar for Scarlett, Thomas Mitchell and Fay Bainter

16. Tomorrow is Another Day was one of the book's titles before being changed to Gone With The Wind.

17. The book's title, Gone With The Wind, was taken from a line in the poem Cynara, by Ernest Dowson. The poem is about obsession for a lost love.

18. Scarlett's name was originally Pansy.

19. There was serious talk from the studio about changing Vivien Leigh's name to Virginia Lee, so she'd sound more like a Southern girl instead of the British girl she was, and be more acceptable to the public.

20. Vivien Leigh went through 28 different hairdos as Scarlett O'Hara. Here are just a few examples of her hairstyles:

21. Walter Plunkett, costume designer, created over 5,000 pieces of clothing for Gone With The Wind.

22. F. Scott Fitzgerald worked on the movie's script.

23. Gone With The Wind premiered first in Atlanta, on December 15, 1939, followed by premieres in New York and Hollywood. Leslie Howard didn't attend the Atlanta premiere as he'd returned to England due to the outbreak of WWII. Hattie McDaniel wasn't allowed to attend due to segregation laws.

Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Margaret Mitchell, David O. Selznick and Olivia de Havilland in Atlanta
24. Vivien Leigh didn't attend the New York premiere on December 19, 1939. Instead, she and Laurence Olivier skedaddled off together for some private time.

25. When asked by a newspaperman, in 1937, how he felt about playing Ashley Wilkes, Leslie Howard looked slightly puzzled and quizzically responded, Ashley who-did-you-say? Well, -er, excuse me, but who in the deuce is he? Howard had been so busy with his production of Hamlet that he hadn't heard about Gone With The Wind or the poll that ranked him as top choice for Ashley. Howard never did read the book.

Vivien Leigh and Leslie Howard in the Paddock scene
26. Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland were British. Howard was born in England; Vivien was born in India to British parents; and Olivia was born in Japan, also to British parents.

27. Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Gone With the Wind.  "... [she] received news of the prize by phone, along with multiple requests for interviews. Hating publicity, she fled to a gospel concert at a small black church in Atlanta with her husband John Marsh, her publisher Harold Latham and her black housekeeper Bessie Jordan. The press scoured the city but never found her. It was a glorious night for Margaret Mitchell." -Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel

28. Special lighting was used to make Vivien Leigh's gray-green eyes appear a solid green to match the description of Scarlett's eye color.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara

29. After the raid on Shantytown, and the death of Frank Kennedy, Rhett brings home a "drunk" Ashley from Belle Watling's. This is the only scene the four main characters (Scarlett, Melanie, Ashley and Rhett) share.

Ashley, Melanie, Rhett and Scarlett

30. Thomas Mitchell, who played Scarlett's father Gerald, was only about nine months older than Leslie Howard, who played Scarlett's love interest Ashley. Mitchell was born in 1892 and Howard was born in 1893.