Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American classic adapted from Margaret Mitchel’s 1936 novel of the same name. This epic directed by Victor Fleming and produced by David O. Selznick has stood the test of time and has been a staple in any film collector’s collection. Set in the Old South during the American Civil War and Reconstruction period, the film tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) as she tries to pursue the charming Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard).
Along with RKO and MGM, Selznick was not a fan of the novel due to its content matter. However, Selznick changed his mind after his partners Kay Brown and John Hay Whitney urged him to buy the film rights. One month after the novel was published, Selznick bought the rights for $50,000, about $856,974.00 in today’s money. This ended up being the easiest part of production.
When Selznick was trying to find the two leads to play Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler he had to back up production by two years. Selznick wanted Clark Gable for the role of Rhett Butler, but Gable was signed under MGM, who was unable to trade him. Finally, an agreement was reached between MGM and Selznick. Selznick was to give up half of the movie’s budget to Gable and MGM. While working out a deal for Gable, Selznick used his two-year production delay to build publicity for the film by having an open casting call for Scarlett O’Hara. Some of the front-runners included Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer, Bette Davis, and Katherine Hepburn. Paulette Goddard was originally chosen for the film, but because of her controversial marriage to Charlie Chaplin, Selznick changed his mind. Selznick soon considered Vivien Leigh, a young English actress who was barely known. Finally on January 13, 1939, Vivien Leigh was cast as Scarlett, only a few months before filming.
|Vivien Leigh posses for a Make – Up Still
Many troubles arose during filming including the replacement of George Cukor. Clark Gable disagreed with George Cukor which made Cukor get fired. Even after Vivien Leigh and Olivia De Havilland objected, Cukor did not come back and Victor Flemming took over.
Gone with the Wind was finally released on September 9, 1939 in Atlanta. Though because of Georgia’s Jim Crow laws, none of the African-American actors could attend, including Hattie McDaniel.
At the 12th Academy Awards, Gone with the Wind set the record for Academy wins by receiving eight Academy Awards.
Best Director (Victor Flemming) – Won
Best Actor (Clark Gable) – Nominated (won by Robert Donat for Goodbye, Mr Chips)
Best Actress (Vivien Leigh) – Won
Best Adapted Screenplay (Sidney Howard) – Won
Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel) – Won
Best Supporting Actress (Olivia De Havilland) – Nominated (won by Hattie McDaniel)
Best Cinematography, Color (Ernest Haller and Ray Rennahan) – Won
Best Film Editing (Hal C. Kern and James E. Newcom) – Won
Best Art Direction (Lyle Wheeler) – Won
Best Visual Effects (Jack Cosgrove, Fred Albin, and Arthur Johns) – Nominated (Won by Fred Scott for The Rains Came
Best Music, Original Score (Max Steiner) – Nominated (Won by Herbert Stothart for The Wizard of Oz)
Best Sound Recording (Thomas T. Multon) – Nominated (Won by Bernard B. Brown for When Tomorrow Comes)
Special Award (William Cameron Menzies) – For outstanding achievement in the use of color for the enhancement of dramatic mood in Gone with the Wind.
Technical Achievement Award (Don Musgrave) – For pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment in the production Gone with the Wind.
|Hattie McDaniel receiving her Academy Award. McDaniel was the first African-American to receive an award.