Gone With the Wind: A Disastrous Success

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Gone With the Wind: A Disastrous Success

Gone With the Wind: A Disastrous Success

Gone With the Wind is one of the most iconic movies in history, with sweeping landscapes, epic love stories, and a backdrop of the American Civil War. But the creation of the movie was far from the glamorous, effortless feel of the final product. Check out these facts about the movie.

1. The movie went through a full 3 directors before it was completed. George Cukor was involved in the planning and the development of the movie and spent 2 years working on it before shooting. There are rumors that he left because Clark Gable refused to work with an openly gay man (or at least as open as it was possible to be during the era). He left 18 days into shooting and Victor Fleming took over (the director of the Wizard of Oz). After a nervous breakdown, Sam Wood took over for a few weeks until Fleming could return.

2. There is actually an entire comedy that was written about the process it took to adapt the novel into a screenplay. Supposedly producer David Selznick, director Fleming, and script writer Ben Hecht locked themselves in an office for a week and Selznick refused to allow them any food but bananas and peanuts, hoping it would push them to finish.

3. Vivian Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara) decided to engage in a silent protest after Cukor left the film. Fleming was known as a man’s man, and she hated his direction. She began to bring a copy of the book to set every day in order to show Fleming she preferred the original to what he was doing.

4. Leigh was actually the source of a great deal of drama in the film. She was cast after the filming started, since Selznick wanted to film the burning of Atlanta first and all he needed was a stand in. According to legend, he met Leigh during the filming of the famous scene.

5. Many people were not happy with the fact that Leigh was English. During her first test reading she spoke with her normal accent and almost lost the part. The Daughters of the Confederacy even protested the choice, saying it was unacceptable for an Englishwoman to play the quintessential Southern belle.

6. In the scene in which Melanie tells Rhett that Scarlett has miscarried, the script calls for Rhett to cry. But Clark Gable was firmly against it, saying that it would ruin his image. He even threatened to walk off the set. Director Fleming convinced him to shoot two version, one with crying and one without, and managed to get Gable to agree that the weeping would only be endearing, not weak.

7. In the later scenes of the movie, there are shots of thousands of wounded Confederate soldiers lying in the dirt. Selznick was absolutely certain that he wanted 2500 extras in the scene, but at the time there were only 1500 extras available through the Screen Actors Guild, so they built dummies instead.

8. Rhett’s iconic line “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was almost changed to the significantly less powerful “My dear, I don’t care.” It took some serious convincing for the censors to agree to the line, and Selznick had to point to the dictionary definition that stated it didn’t refer to anything prurient.

9. Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) was the first black actress to win a Supporting Actress Oscar, but she and her fellow black actors weren’t even allowed to see the film’s premiere. She was seated at a segregated table during the Oscars, and her acceptance speech was written by the studio.

10. At the time of shooting, Vivian Leigh was engaged in an affair with the married Laurence Olivier. Every day of shooting she would push for them to get just a little more done because she wanted to hurry up the production (which was running far behind schedule) to return to her lover.

11. Leigh reportedly hated kissing Gable. He had dentures, and she said “Kissing Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind was not that exciting. His dentures smelled something awful.”

Related topics Clark Gable, Gone with the Wind, Rhett Butler, Scarlett O'Hara, Vivian Leigh
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