The Reel Corner Highlight: Edward Norton
Gone With The Wind Turns 80
All over America, confederate monuments are coming down.
All except one. The biggest. A film.
Gone With The Wind
January 2020 Issue
by Donne Paine
Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler are one of the most enduring couples in American cinema, and December marked the 80th anniversary of their film debut in Gone with the Wind, a tale of war, love gone wrong and tragic endings. The film’s anniversary on December 15, was met with surprisingly little fuss—positive or negative.
Gone With the Wind can be credited for the existence of the television network Turner Classic Movies. Owner Ted Turner's obsession with the movie led him to buy the film library that became the basis of the network. GWTW is the most famous, most widely loved, and—adjusted for inflation—most successful film in Hollywood history ($3.4 billion in current money).
Margaret Mitchell, the author of the novel of the same name was paid $50,000 for the film rights to the story.
The casting of the two lead roles became a complex, two-year endeavor. For the role of Rhett Butler, Producer David Selznick wanted Clark Gable from the start. However, Gable was under contract to MGM, which never loaned him to other studios. Gary Cooper was considered, along with Errol Flynn, but a deal was finally struck with MGM to be involved in the film and secure Gable as the leading man of a lifetime.
For Scarlett a nationwide casting call interviewed more than 1400 unknowns. Well known actresses Miriam Hopkins, Tallulah Bankhead, Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, Jean Arthur, Paulette Goddard, Lana Turner and Joan Bennett were all considered. But a young British actress, Vivien Leigh won the role.
Gone With the Wind Interesting Facts:
1) The Atlanta fire scene was the first scene to be shot. To get a realistic blaze and clear out the backlot, MGM used the remains of several old sets including the Great Wall set from King Kong.
2) All seven of the existing Technicolor cameras were used to film the fire. Flames leapt over 500 feet in height and covered 40 acres. It took over 15,000 gallons of water to douse the flames. (There were no special effects in those days.)
3) Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to be nominated for, and win, an Academy Award. It was also the first time an African American attended the awards as a guest.
4) None of the African American cast members were allowed to attend the movie’s premiere.
5) Clark Gable worked 71 days and made $125,000. Vivien Leigh worked 125 days and made $25,000.
6) Vivien Leigh arrived at the set from England with her lover, Lawrence Olivier. So not to be distracted during filming, the director hired guards around Leigh’s residence to not allow Olivier to distract her.
7) In 1940 The Academy Awards presented Gone with the Wind with: Best Picture; Best Actress (Vivien Leigh); Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel) and Best Director (Victor Fleming).
8) Daughters of the Confederacy campaigned against Vivien Leigh as Scarlett.
9) The producer lobbied for months to be allowed to get the word “damn” in the script.
10) Author Margaret Mitchell personally answered all fan mail and never wrote a second novel because she was fatally struck by a car a few years after the film’s release.
Have you ever met someone 80 years old who looked so young and vibrant you couldn’t believe their age? That’s like watching the Gone with the Wind. If somehow you have missed this film in the last 80 years, treat yourself and watch it immediately.
Don't forget, the Golden Globes are January 5th and the Academy Awards are February 9th-the biggest night in show biz!