Showing posts with label Gone With The Wind. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gone With The Wind. Show all posts

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Vivien Leigh's "Gone With The Wind" Script Is Up For Auction

In recent years, a plethora of items related to Gone With the Wind have turned up on the auction block. This year is no different. On September 26, Sotheby's will be auctioning off items personally owned by the movie's star, Vivien Leigh. One item, in particular, will be drawing the attention of Gone With the Wind collectors: Vivien's leather-bound script, gifted to her by the producer, David O. Selznick.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett & Leslie Howard as Ashley

David O. Selznick gave these presentation scripts as Christmas gifts, in 1939, to select members of the cast and crew of Gone With the Wind, along with a few people outside the filmThere were two styles of these hardbound scripts: one screenplay was covered in cloth and morocco leather; the other, in leather only. The four main cast members (Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, Leslie Howard and Vivien) all received ones bound in full leather.

Leslie Howard's leather-bound presentation script

These presentation scripts were maroon in color, with GONE WITH THE WIND, 'SCREEN PLAY' and the recipient's name gilt-stamped onto the cover. Selznick inscribed each copy with a personalized note to the recipient, found inside on the front end paper. These beautifully bound scripts were given the date of January 24th, 1939 and contained the finalized script of the film. Black and white stills from the movie were interspersed with the script.

Vivien Leigh's script is not the first one from the movie to be auctioned. Selznick handed out a few dozen of these scripts and many of them have been on the auction block. Walter Plunkett's, Hattie McDaniel's and Clark Gable's scripts have all been sold via auction houses.

Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel's script was made from cloth and leather. It's been on the auction block at least twice. In December 2010, Hattie's screenplay sold for $18,300 and then in April 2015, it sold again for $28,750. The seller noted that the covers had come unbound from the spine, along with leather loss and a stain on the front. Selznick's personal note to Hattie reads, For Hattie McDaniel, who contributed so greatly! With gratitude and admiration, David, Christmas, 1939.

Selznick's inscription to Hattie

Walter Plunkett, the costume designer for Gone With the Wind, also received a presentation script made from cloth and leather. At an auction, in April 2015, Plunkett's personalized screenplay sold for $22,500. Selznick's inscription reads, For Walter Plunkett, With appreciation of, and for, his brilliant execution of a difficult job. David O. Selznick, Christmas, 1939.

Walter Plunkett's cloth and leather bound GWTW script

Gone With the Wind's publicist, William R. Ferguson, received one of these cloth and leather bound books, too. It's signed, For Bill Ferguson, in memory of Atlanta. With appreciation, David Selznick. Ferguson's copy sold at auction, in October 2014, for $23,000.

Walter Plunkett and Olivia de Havilland

Sidney Howard, the only credited screenwriter for Gone With the Wind, passed away in August, 1939. His all leather copy was presented to his widow, Polly Damrosch. Selznick didn't inscribe this one. However, Polly gave the script to her nephew, writing, With love to Blaine on Jennifer's birthday, March 23rd, 1940, from Polly. This script hit the auction block in 2008, selling for $3,250; and then again in 2014, this time selling for $62,500. 

Norma Shearer, a would-be Scarlett at one time, received one of the special, leather bound screenplays. David wrote, For Norma, the ever appreciative. With gratitude for her never-failing encouragement, and with affection. David, Christmas, 1939. Norma's script fetched $14,640, at an auction, in 2011.


A few of the other recipients included William Kurtz, John Hertz, Will Price, William B. Hartsfield and the book's author, Margaret Mitchell. Mitchell's leather-bound, presentation script is kept in Atlanta. The Atlanta Fulton Public Library placed it on display for the 75th anniversary of the book's publication.

William B. Hartsfield's personalized screenplay was presented to him during Gone With the Wind's 21st anniversary, by David Selznick. The event was held in Atlanta and attended by Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland and Selznick (read more about that event here). Hartsfield was Atlanta's mayor during the film's original premiere in 1939 and also during the film's anniversary celebration. Inside the script, David wrote, March 10, 1961, To Mayor William B. Hartsfield with the affection and gratitude of the "Gone With The Wind Company," including his admirers. David O. Selznick. The script was also signed by Vivien Leigh, Olivia de Havilland, Butterfly McQueen and Samuel Yupper, a friend of Mitchell's. It sold at auction, in 1995, for $8,625.

Will Price bequeathed his Gone With the Wind script to writer Carla Carlisle (Country Life, Sept 6, 2017). Will was the Southern voice coach for the cast. Selznick wrote, For Will Price, who literally shoved the South down our throats. With good wishes always, David Selznick.


Leslie Howard's script recently hit the auction block, in November 2016, as part of TCM Presents... Lights, Camera, Action, with an estimate of $80,000 to $120,000. It remained unsold. Selznick's inscription reads, For Leslie, with the profound, (but probably futile), hope that he'll finally read it. Christmas, 1939. Howard was kind of famous on set, for never having read Gone With the Wind, even after Selznick told him to at least read Ashley's scenes that were making it into the movie.

In 1996, Clark Gable's personalized screenplay sold for a whopping $244,500! The winning bid was placed by Steven Spielberg. The leather-bound script was inscribed to Gable by David Selznick, who referenced how the public, almost unanimously, chose Clark Gable to play Rhett Butler, For Clark, who made the dream of fifty million Americans (who couldn't be- and weren't- wrong!) and one producer come true! With gratitude for a superb performance and a happy association, David, Christmas, 1939. Gable later recalled how he didn't want the role of Rhett Butler, It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the compliment the public was paying me, it was simply that Rhett was too big an order. I didn't want any part of him, Rhett was too much for any actor to tackle in his right mind.

Clark Gable as Rhett and Vivien Leigh as Scarlett

Now, on September 26th, Vivien Leigh's leather-bound, personalized script will go on the auction block. Sotheby's selling estimate is between $13,300 to $19,900. However, this is not the first time Vivien's family has attempted to sell her screenplay.

In 2006, Bonhams listed the book, citing the provenance as by direct family descent (most likely Vivien's daughter, Suzanne Farrington). The selling estimate was given as $80,000 to $120,000. The script didn't sell and remained with the family.

Vivien Leigh's leather-bound presentation script

Unfortunately, David's inscription to Vivien is missing from the book. Sotheby's catalog states (pages 36-37 pdf) ...Vivien's copy now has a jagged-edged stub where the inscribed leaf has been cut out with a pair of scissors. We'll probably never know what happened to David's note to Vivien. Perhaps a guest or fan took it home as a souvenir or one of Vivien's grandchildren accidentally tore it out. Then there's always the possibility that Vivien removed the inscription herself, if she were truly mad at David Selznick.

In 1945, Selznick filed an injunction against Vivien, attempting to prevent her from appearing in the play, The Skin of Our Teeth. Sir Walter Monckton, Selznick's attorney, argued that The screen personality of a leading lady is a very valuable commodity to be treated rather as an exotic plant. Under the terms of his contract with Miss Leigh, Mr. Selznick claimed the right to decide how 'the exotic plant' was to be exposed so that it could not be subjected to unwise exposure. ...A screen personality is something so expensive and so valuable that a person investing in it large sums of money will naturally say, 'I want to prevent you from entering into adventures otherwise than with my consent.'  

Vivien's attorney, Valentine Holmes, contested this testimony. He said that it was against public policy to have restrictive clauses in a contract that prevented anyone working in 'war time.' No injury to Mr. Selznick could occur through letting her act for eight weeks in the play, but considerable damage and inconvenience would be caused to a number of completely innocent people if she was prevented. He went on with Vivien's affidavit. It had been decided under American law that a contract such as hers with Mr. Selznick was unenforceable after seven years, and in view of that decision, Mr. Selznick had for some months been urging her to enter into a new agreement. She refused as it would involve her in film appearances over a number of years and separate her for long periods from her husband. Vivien won the injunction.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara

It'll be very interesting to see how much Vivien's personalized screenplay will sell for at auction, especially if two buyers get into a bidding war. There are many Gone With the Wind fans, including myself, who would love to have it as part of their collection.

Detail of the front cover of Vivien's script
Detail of the front cover of Vivien's script


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Friday, September 8, 2017

Fashion Friday: Scarlett's Red Dress

Today's Fashion Friday post is about Scarlett's scandalous, red ball gown. Rhett forces her to wear the dress to Ashley's surprise birthday party. Earlier in the day, Scarlett and Ashley were caught hugging by India Wilkes. Scarlett doesn't want to go to the party, but Rhett won't have anything to do with her cowardice.

Rhett (Clark Gable) embraces Scarlett (Vivien Leigh)

Rhett: You're not ready for Melanie's party.
Scarlett: I've got a headache, Rhett. You go without me and make my excuses to Melanie.
Rhett: What a white, livered, little coward you are! Get up. You're going to that party and you'll have to hurry.
Scarlett: Has India dare--?
Rhett: Yes, my dear, India has. Every woman in town knows the story and every man, too.
Scarlett: You should have killed them, spreading lies.
Rhett: I have a strange way of not killing people who tell the truth. No time to argue. Now get up.
Scarlett: I won't go. I can't go until this, this, misunderstanding is cleared up.
Rhett: You're not going to cheat Miss Melly out of the satisfaction of publicly ordering you out of her house.
Scarlett: There was nothing wrong. India hates me so. I- I can't go, Rhett. I couldn't face them!
Rhett: If you don't show your face tonight, you'll never be able to show it in this town as long as you live. And while that wouldn't bother me, you're not going to ruin Bonnie's chances. You're going to that party, if only for her sake. Get dressed.

GWTW Publicity Photo

Rhett: Wear that. Nothing modest or matronly will do for this occasion. And put on plenty of rouge. I want you to look your part tonight.


Scarlett and Rhett arrive at Ashley's birthday party

Rhett: Good night, Scarlett
Scarlett: But, Rhett, you've-- 
Rhett: You go into the arena alone. The lions are hungry for you.
Scarlett: Oh, Rhett don't leave me. Don't.
Rhett: You're not afraid? (and then walks away)

As most fans of Gone With the Wind know, all of Scarlett's costumes were designed by the amazing Walter Plunkett. David Selznick, the film's producer, brought Plunkett on board as early as 1936. Walter was a native Californian, who'd been designing costumes for the movies since 1926. The imdb website credits him as costume designer on almost 300 movies.

For his research on Gone With the Wind, Plunkett traveled to the Southern U.S., visiting Atlanta, Savannah and Charleston, in search of inspiration for his costumes. He met with Margaret Mitchell, who gave him a list of books to help guide him in his fashion search. He also met with the Daughters of the Confederacy, where one of the ladies gave him fabric samples of dresses worn during the time of the Civil War (1861 to 1865).

Walter Plunkett and Vivien Leigh

In the book, Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell imagined Scarlett's dress of shame as jade green. [Rhett] drew out her new jade green watered silk dress. It was cut low over the bosom and the skirt was draped back over an enormous bustle and on the bustle was a huge bunch of pink velvet roses. However, the final product was re-imagined in red.

In a memo to Raymond Klune, the production manager, David Selznick wrote: ...The third part of the picture should, by its colors alone, dramatize the difference between Scarlett and the rest of the people-- Scarlett extravagantly and colorfully costumed against the drabness of the other principals and of the extras. ...This picture in particular gives us the opportunity occasionally-- as in our opening scenes and as in Scarlett's costumes-- to throw a violent dab of color at the audience to sharply make a dramatic point.

Front of Scarlett's Red Ball Gown (from the HRC)

The red ball gown recently went through a restoration by the Harry Ransom Center. The conservationists discovered that additional feathers had been added to the gown, which they subsequently removed. There were also weights in the gown's hem, (which is pretty common in skirts and dresses to keep hems from flying up on windy days and to keep trains in place), which over the years had caused damage. They were removed to prevent further tearing of the dress.

Detail of the glass beading on the bodice (from the HRC)

This sleeveless, silk velvet gown is embellished with glass teardrop beads and round, red faceted beads at the neckline and a profusion of ostrich feathers around the shoulders. Rhett's choice of an ostentatious gown in an immodest burgundy-red color is intended to humiliate Scarlett. -description of dress from the Harry Ransom Center.

Back side of Scarlett's Red Ball Gown (from the HRC)


Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!





Friday, April 28, 2017

Fashion Friday: Gone With The Wind's Honeymoon Necklace & Lovebird Dress

In Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh's costume jewelry was created by Eugene Joseff. Joseff worked with his longtime friend, Walter Plunkett (Gone With the Wind's costume designer) to create the perfect pieces for Scarlett to wear. Joseff began his Hollywood career in the 1920s, creating some of the most gorgeous pieces of jewelry ever seen on the silver screen. After his death in 1948, his wife, Joan Castle, took over the business, creating jewelry for the movies until 2006. Besides Gone With the Wind, their work can be seen in hundreds of movies such as The Shanghai Gesture, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Cleopatra, The Virgin Queen, Cover Girl, High Society, That Hamilton Woman, Anna Karenina and the list goes on!

For today's Fashion Friday post, I thought we'd look at one of the costumes and necklaces from Gone With the Wind. Rhett and Scarlett have just been married and are currently enjoying their honeymoon in New Orleans. Scarlett wears a sumptuous, midnight blue gown, adorned with lovebirds.


In the movie, we only see Scarlett sitting down, while wearing this dress. The Butlers are eating at a restaurant with CanCan dancers as the entertainment. I really wish I could find a full-length photograph of Vivien Leigh in this dress.

Scarlett eyes the desserts! 
Walter Plunkett's sketch of the lovebird dress
Around Vivien's neck is this gorgeous diamond and amethyst necklace. The diamonds are really iridescent stones, which set off the simulated amethysts. Joseff certainly knew how to deliver the Wow factor!

Image is from the SFO Museum's website
Scarlett's necklace is set to go on the auction block in November. Since it's from one of the most iconic and beloved movies of all time, I think the selling price will be quite high. In addition to the necklace, Vivien wears a matching bracelet, which is stunning with its intricate detail.


Besides Gone With the Wind, the necklace appeared in three other films.

It's first appearance after Gone With the Wind is in the 1948 movie, Let's Live A Little, starring Hedy Lamarr. 


The next time we see the necklace, it's adorning Ginger Rogers in The Barkleys of Broadway, in 1949. It appears that the strands were tightened to give it more of a choker look.

Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire

The last leading lady to wear the necklace is Linda Darnell in Blackbeard the Pirate, from 1952. The necklace now appears to have been returned to its former Gone With the Wind glory. 

Torin Thatcher and Linda Darnell

Thanks for joining me for today's Fashion Friday post!




Friday, October 7, 2016

Fashion Friday #12: Gone With the Wind's 21st Anniversary

Gone With the Wind celebrated its 21st anniversary in March, 1961. The celebrations were held in Atlanta, Georgia, in conjunction with the Civil War Centennial. Newspapers around the world ran headlines such as Scarlett turns 21. The three day event took place from Wednesday, March 8th to Friday, March 10th.

The luminaries began to pour into Atlanta on Wednesday. Olivia de Havilland,  David Selznick, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, George Murphy and several MGM business associates arrived together on a Gone With the Wind Delta Special flight. Thomas Mitchell, whom we all remember as Scarlett’s Pa, was too ill to attend the festivities. There was a large parade, with Olivia de Havilland in the lead car-- an open convertible-- that traveled down Peachtree Street.

Vivien didn’t arrive in Atlanta until the following day. After crossing the ocean, her plane landed first at Idlewild Airport (now JFK).  Vivien’s chosen outfit for the day was a two-piece tweed suit. The fawn colored suit featured large buttons and a fur collar. Her hat and shoes matched her suit perfectly in color. She topped her outfit off with a pair of dark sunglasses.


Unfortunately, when Vivien landed in New York, she agreed to a small press conference. The first reporter, who asked her a question, definitely asked her the wrong question. The journalist asked Vivien what part she played in Gone With the Wind.

Her response: Have you seen the picture? Have you read the book? When the fellow confessed that he had not done either, Vivien replied, Since you are not informed, gentlemen, there is no sense in continuing. But the reporter asked another question, Do you mind telling me what film you are going to do next?

The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone and I’m not playing the Roman spring! Then she swept from the room in true Scarlett O’Hara style. According to Dorothy Kilgallen, her response was far saltier than what she was actually quoted in the papers.


Vivien arrived in Atlanta on Thursday. Joseph Baird of The Christian Science Monitor wrote: Miss Scarlett O’Hara of Gone With the Wind  fame came home after 20 years of wandering in foreign parts, and the people took her to their hearts like a long lost daughter.

After disembarking, she received a bouquet of red roses from Mayor Hartsfield. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, who was in Atlanta for the special occasion, also greeted Vivien at the airport. On the list of activities for the day was a visit back to the Cyclorama with Olivia de Havilland. Vivien had originally toured it on her first visit to Atlanta. Also on the list was a scheduled press conference. For this event, Vivien wrapped herself in a mink coat and capped her head in an amazing --you either love it or hate it (I love it!)-- hat.


This was a much easier press conference as all these reporters knew whom she’d played in the movie. Vivien called herself a middle-aged Scarlett and discussed her upcoming world tour with the reporters on hand. One question that Vivien was asked, How did you, as a British actress, manage a convincing Southern drawl?  She replied, I just studied it for two weeks. She was also asked about walking away from that press conference in New York. She said she felt sorry for him because he had never read such a marvelous book. I love the book and I love Scarlett.


On Thursday night, a costume ball was held at the Biltmore Hotel, hosted by the Governor of Georgia, Ernest Vandiver. Antebellum skirts swooshed through the hotel as ladies dressed up in crinoline dresses and the men dressed up as Confederate soldiers and gentlemen of days past. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, recited part of Stephen Vincent Benet’s Pulitzer Prize winning, epic poem about abolitionist John Brown, titled John Brown’s Body.

Radie Harris accompanied Vivien Leigh to the ball.
Vivien wore an original ball gown, specially created for the 21st anniversary gala. One source that I have says the dress was made from satin, while another says it was made from silk. In either case, the white gown had a billowing skirt, which trailed behind Vivien when she walked. The dress featured a green velvet waistband with flowing ribbons down the backside of the skirt.


The very fitted bodice showed off the gown’s gorgeous embroidery. Green-blue sprays of flowers were embroidered onto the gown and peppered with pearls and rhinestones. Vivien’s accessories for the evening included a three strand pearl necklace with a diamond drop pin around her neck, while diamond hair barrettes adorned her coiffure. She topped the gown off with long gloves and a fox fur wrap, both white to match her dress.


David Selznick wore a traditional tuxedo, while Olivia de Havilland glowed in a gold ball gown. She accented her sleeveless, lace evening dress, with elbow length gloves.



The next evening Gone With the Wind re-premiered at the Loew’s Grand theater-- the same theater where the epic movie had its original premiere back in 1939. George Murphy played Master of Ceremonies.


On a special platform, Vivien told the crowd that It’s wonderful… it’s wonderful to be back. Her gown of choice for the evening was a sleeveless, white number with a small bow on the bodice. The ball gown featured sheer layers over the skirt, gathered in the back, for a cascade effect. She paired her dress with long white gloves, pearls and a brooch.


David Selznick presented a leather bound copy of the Gone With the Wind script to Mayor Hartsfield (who had also been mayor in 1939), along with portraits of Margaret Mitchell and Clark Gable. The portraits were unveiled by Vivien Leigh (for Gable) and Olivia de Havilland (for Mitchell).


This last picture is a screenshot from a youtube video on the festivities in Atlanta. From this angle, the side of Vivien's dress is visible and one gets a partial glimpse of the backside of her gown.

Thanks for joining me for this week's Fashion Friday post!

Sources:
Boxoffice Magazine, March 1961
Radie's World by Radie Harris
The Christian Science Monitor, March 13, 1961










Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Little Miss Echo

Must She Always Be Little Miss Echo?
by Hubert Cole, originally published in 1940

I doubt that anybody would deny that the biggest screen role-- of the past ten years has been that of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. It would be strange wouldn’t it, if the girl who eventually got the role after so much heated competition, should eventually be killed by it?


That, I believe, is just what is happening. Miss Leigh, having scored one success with Scarlett, is going to echo and re-echo the role down the ages until everybody is thoroughly sick and tired of it. Unless something is done to stop it.

I am not blaming David O. Selznick, who cast Miss Leigh as Scarlett. The rot had set in some time before that. You can trace the Scarlett character back to A Yank at Oxford. That was the time when Vivien, having played two or three colourless ingénues in quota quickies, and then having been signed up by Alexander Korda with a fanfare of windy trumpets to play another colourless role in Fire Over England, first appeared as an unprincipled hussy.

She was, if you remember, the flirtatious wife of the elderly bookseller. She had so many affairs with the local undergraduates that her long-suffering husband at last decided to move his business. But, as she triumphantly announced, they were only moving to Aldershot. It was a very nice and naughty performance, that one in A Yank at Oxford. Her wide and innocent blue eyes contrasted attractively with her less innocent behaviour. She was a kitten with fully grown claws.

On the strength of that performance she was chosen to play the ambitious Cockney girl in Sidewalks of London. (It’s funny how blurbs of publicity follow Miss Leigh around-- as in the later Gone With the Wind campaign, there was a great deal of hullabaloo about finding an entirely new discovery, which ended up with Vivien Leigh getting the part.)

The girl in Sidewalks of London was as determined and unscrupulous as the bookseller’s wife in A Yank At Oxford. She was a little more open about it. She was at less pains to hide the fact that she would ride rough-shod over any obstacles, any ordinary feelings of kindness or gratitude.

And so we come to Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett belongs to the select few heroines in literature who are intensely interesting and intensely unsympathetic. She is an American Becky Sharp.

She has ambition without principles, strength of purpose without conscience. She was a greater, more detailed study of the girl that Vivien Leigh had already played in A Yank at Oxford and Sidewalks of London. It was as if those two previous roles had been nothing more than a preliminary tryout for the final one.

If, indeed, they had been that --and if the course of training had ended there-- all would have been well. A monster production like Gone With the Wind might conceivably call for two test pictures to give the leading lady practice. But the three pictures together, and the triumph that Vivien scored in the third, seem to be her undoing. She is typed as the tough girl; the outward seeming sweet young thing with the callous core.

That, I am convinced, is why she was cast opposite Robert Taylor in Waterloo Bridge. Somebody, looking round for a subject for Vivien’s next picture, said: “Heck, why not Waterloo Bridge? That was all about a prostitute, wasn’t it?”

And Vivien, who is allowed to have no moral scruples on the screen, was given the part. As it happens, the girl in the story isn’t primarily a prostitute-- and is even less of one than she was in the earlier version, made before the purity campaigners got such a firm hold on Hollywood.

Actually, Myra in Waterloo Bridge is a very charming young woman, though an extremely foolish one. She becomes a prostitute not through willfulness or lack of moral sense, but because she is rather stupid.

That role might have been the opportunity that Miss Leigh was waiting for. It might have been the lucky accident that would have formed a stepping stone from the past series of unsympathetic roles to a new future of more pleasant ones. It might have removed the threat that she is condemned to play Little Miss Echo for the rest of her screen career.

But I’m afraid it hasn’t. Here she is now, off again down the path of mottled morals, playing Lady Hamilton to Laurence Olivier’s Nelson in the new film Alexander Korda is producing in Hollywood.

I’m not quite sure why Korda should be making the film at this time. There is obvious publicity value in the teaming of Olivier and Vivien; there is obvious topical value in the story of a great British admiral; but there is also the strange emphasis (as far as one can judge from the advance pictures) on the intrigue with Lady Hamilton and Nelson’s strange conduct in Naples-- a very unsavoury phase of his career.


And I suspect that the primary reason why he chose the subject was that Miss Leigh is still under contract to him and he thought Lady Hamilton a sufficiently immoral character to suit Miss Leigh’s style. For Korda, like the rest of the producers, apparently now believes that Miss Leigh has only one style.

Perhaps he is right. He should know more about her work than I do. But Waterloo Bridge, at any rate, seems to suggest she can play a young woman of good impulses and healthy outlook as well as she can the other kind. It may not be entirely the fault of the producers and casting managers that Miss Leigh has travelled so far away from the sweet young thing that she used to be in her early stage and screen days.

Two years ago, for instance, she said in an interview: “Quite a number of people were surprised when I appeared as a vamp in A Yank at Oxford, and took an unsympathetic part in Sidewalks of London. But in both cases, I felt that the roles were interesting and out of the rut. Since the films have been completed and shown, the letters I have received have proved I was right. Most of these letters say how glad the writers are that I have not confined myself to pretty heroine characters.”

To that insignificant statement you can add the story, recently published, that long before Gone With the Wind was ever made-- and certainly long before Vivien was approached to play the principle role-- she gave a copy of the book to a friend and autographed it from Scarlett.

In itself, the incident means little, except that Vivien not unnaturally saw herself in a role which was bound to be one of the most important on the screen. But set beside what she said in the interview, it seems to point clearly to the fact that she herself had a preference for unsympathetic roles-- and believes that the film going public likes best to see her in such roles. I believe she has been misled-- both by herself and her correspondents.

There is no doubt she takes her career seriously and laudably aims at becoming a great actress. It is true that many great actresses have played unsympathetic parts and created great reputations in them. It is also significant that, in one of her earliest and worst films, The Village Squire, she played Lady Macbeth.

All the way through, perhaps by chance and perhaps by choice, she has veered toward near villainy, she has appeared as a cold and calculating hussy.

There have been patches when she was just a normal, nice young woman-- but she does not seem to have been particularly interested in those roles. Unfortunately, she has some reason to despise them, for they were parts of no great value: the lady-in-waiting in Fire Over England, for instance, and the heroine in Dark Journey-- though the film itself was pleasant enough.

So, by avoiding being “confined entirely to pretty heroine characters,” she seems to have dug herself into an equally treacherous rut. If I have accused her wrongly of willfully going unsympathetic on us, I am sorry. If, in fact, she is fighting against such typing, I am doubly sorry-- that she has had so little success recently.

There is a great deal of danger in stereotyping her in unpleasant parts. It is difficult-- probably impossible-- for a young actress to become great if she confines herself to unsympathetic roles. Unless Vivien Leigh breaks clean away from Scarlett O’Hara and all the other minor Scarletts, I fear she is going to find herself in the middle of a lot of grief.







Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Gone With the Wind's Alternate Ending

Many people who watch Gone With the Wind wish the movie had ended differently. Rhett's parting words to Scarlett, Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn, still makes people talk. And the question everyone wants answered is: What happened to Scarlett and Rhett?


Back in 1940, just months after Gone With the Wind had hit the big screen, Screen Guide magazine wondered the same thing. The fadeout of Gone With the Wind whets the curiosity of moviegoers. They watch Scarlett return to Tara alone, deserted by Rhett and they argue hotly among themselves about what happened afterward. "He'd never go back to her!" "Oh yes, he would!" "He wouldn't have to, she'd go to him!" The controversy surrounding the ending of Gone With the Wind is no criticism, but a great tribute to the film's compelling force. So real are the characters created by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh that they do not cease to exist when their images on the screen fade. Their lives go on in the imagination of every moviegoer. 

Screen Guide held a contest for an additional ending to Gone With the Wind. The prize was $10 and the winner was Arnold Manning, a member of the Navy, stationed on the USS Portland. Illustrations to Manning's story were completed by Bernard Thompson.

"I don't give a damn!" was Rhett's weary reply to Scarlett's selfish cry. "What will become of me?" Now see what might have happened after that.

Here's Manning's winning entry:


Rhett tries to forget in the company of  Charleston's Belle Watlings, drinking too much, cursing Scarlett. Meanwhile, Scarlett, fearing the pitying amusement of gossips, again plays the coquette with man after man, stealing younger girls' lovers.


Alone, Scarlett gives way to despair, realizing that she cannot live without Rhett. "I'll think about that tomorrow," the little opportunist used to say. But this problem she must think about now. She begins to plot ways and means of bringing Rhett Butler back to her.

Aboard his ship, Rhett continues to drink himself into insensibility, determined not to return to his wife, but still unable to break her hold over him. He decides to set sail on a long voyage. Scarlett, when she hears of the plan, takes desperate action to forestall it.


Scarlett has Rhett kidnapped and brought to their home. They spend another night like the one after Rhett carried her upstairs, but this time it is Scarlett who takes the aggressive. All goes well until he sobers up, and then he becomes furious at her trickery.


He slams  out of the house, returns to this ship, and gives orders to sail. He retires to his cabin with a bottle. No matter how much salt water he puts between himself and Scarlett, Rhett is never able to escape from the love he once thought was killed by her selfishness.

A day out to sea, Rhett wakes up, smashes an empty bottle against the cabin door, yells for a full one. A hand sets the bottle on the table. For a moment he thinks he see Scarlett before him, but convinces himself that the vision is a drunken mind's hallucination.


Moments later, a slightly more sober Captain Butler appears on deck. He stops by the mate at the wheel, begins to ask, "Did you see...?" Looking at the seaman's poker face, he finishes, "Never mind." "Your wife, sir?" the mate asks. "My wife?" "That's what she said, sir. She said you'd be looking for her, and that she would be waiting in the fo'c'sle."


Rhett strides angrily along the deck, fists clenched. "My wife! I'll throw that hussy in the brig. Said I'd be looking for her! If she thinks that I'll come running any time she snaps her fingers-- this time I'll kill her!... My wife," he muses. "She said she was my wife."


A different Scarlett waits for him-- proud, yet mutely appealing, promising surrender. "So you said you're my wife!" His manner changes. "You still say it-- and Scarlett, I'll hold you to it!"


And Rhett and Scarlett return together to Tara, to the land. Fadeout.