The fact that Hattie McDaniel would be unable to attend the premiere in racially segregated Atlanta outraged Clark Gable so much that he threatened to boycott the premiere unless she could attend. He later relented when she convinced him to go.
If box-office receipts were adjusted for inflation, it would be the top-grossing movie of all time; Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) would only be the second most successful movie of all time. According to the Guinness World Records homepage, the total gross in 2012 figures for "GWTW" would be $4,401,358,554.94 in 2012.
When Gary Cooper turned down the role of Rhett Butler, he was passionately against it. He is quoted saying "Gone with the Wind (1939) is going to be the biggest flop in Hollywood history" and "I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."
When Rhett pours Mammy a drink after the birth of Bonnie, for a joke during a take, Clark Gable actually poured alcohol instead of the usual tea into the decanter without Hattie McDaniel knowing it until she took a swig.
Vivien Leigh later said that she hated kissing Clark Gable because of his bad breath, rumored to be caused by his false teeth, a result of excessive smoking. According to Frank Buckingham, a technician who observed the film being made, Gable would sometimes eat garlic before his kissing scenes with Vivien Leigh.
Very few of the principal cast members liked the characters they were portraying. Clark Gable was induced into accepting his role through arrangements to divorce his current wife and marry Carole Lombard. Rand Brooks, who played Scarlett's first husband Charles Hamilton, was actually a rough outdoorsman who objected to playing a wimpy character. Butterfly McQueen disliked the negative stereotype of her character. Leslie Howard felt he was too old for the role of Ashley Wilkes and complained that his costumes made him look like "a fairy doorman" at a hotel.
The first scene to be shot was the burning of the Atlanta Depot, filmed on 10 December 1938. If there was a major mistake during the filming, the entire film might have been scrapped. They actually burned many old sets that needed to be cleared from the studio back lot, including ones from The Garden of Allah (1936) and the "Great Wall" set from King Kong (1933). The fire cost over $25,000 and yielded 113 minutes of footage. It was so intense that Culver City residents jammed the telephones lines, thinking MGM was burning down. Scarlett was stunt-doubled by Aline Goodwin and Lila Finn, while Rhett was doubled by veteran stuntmen Yakima Canutt and Jay Wilsey.
Olivia de Havilland, who has been the lone survivor of the four principal leads since the death of Vivien Leigh in 1967, was the only major cast member to live to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the picture's premiere on December 15, 2009.
There is ambiguity over exactly when Vivien Leigh was contracted to play Scarlett O'Hara. One theory holds that David O. Selznick had already secretly signed her for the role as early as February 1938, and that the nationwide "Search For Scarlett O'Hara", during which thousands of dollars were spent "testing" aspiring actresses for the part, was actually a well orchestrated publicity stunt on Selznick's part to keep alive interest in a very expensive film he did not yet have the money to produce. Supposedly, Selznick realized that the American audience might have difficulty accepting a British actress in such an important American role. Therefore, he made it look as though Leigh was discovered spontaneously during the filming of the Atlanta fire, which she "happened" to be visiting together with Laurence Olivier, with whom she was having an affair at the time. Another interesting story is that Selznick's brother Myron Selznick, an agent, introduced Leigh to David during the filming of the Atlanta fire and said, "David, meet your Scarlett O'Hara". The truth of the matter is actually unknown, and may never be resolved.
Max Steiner was given only three months to compose the music, considering that 1939 was the busiest year of his career; in that year he wrote the music for 12 films. In order to meet the deadline, Steiner sometimes worked for 20 hours straight and took Benzedrine pills to stay awake. With almost three hours of music, "Gone With the Wind" had the longest film score ever composed up to that time.
David O. Selznick begged Margaret Mitchell, author of the novel, to critique every aspect of the production. An intensely private person, she gave one criticism of the facade of the design for Tara, which was ignored. Afterward she refused to comment on any aspect of the film during production.
Reportedly, one of the reasons stated by David O. Selznick as to why he fired George Cukor as director was that Cukor, a homosexual, would be unable to properly direct the love scenes between Rhett and Scarlett; hence he was replaced by macho director Victor Fleming. Although he was dismissed from the production, Cukor continued to privately coach both Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland at their request on weekends, unbeknownst to both Selznick and Fleming.
Vivien Leigh wasn't happy with Victor Fleming's brusque style after the careful nurturing she had enjoyed with George Cukor. When she asked him for direction in one scene, he told her "Ham it up". On another occasion when she asked for his constructive advice, he told her to "take the script and stick it up her royal British ass". After Cukor's departure, Leigh had to fight hard to keep the movie's Scarlett true to her view. Fleming's interpretation of her was that she was an out-and-out bitch as in the novel and that he had no desire to create any sympathy or insight for her.
One month after the book was published, David O. Selznick purchased the movie rights from Margaret Mitchell for an unprecedented $50,000. At the time it was the highest sum that had ever been paid for an author's first novel. Realizing he had underpaid Mitchell, Selznick gave her an additional $50,000 as a bonus when he dissolved Selznick-International Pictures in 1942.
For the scene in which Scarlett escapes the burning of the Atlanta Depot, a horse was needed to play Woebegone, an old nag on the verge of collapse. A suitable candidate was finally found but weeks later, when the horse was brought to the set, it had gained weight and its ribs were no longer visible. There was no time to find a replacement, so the makeup department painted dark shadows on its ribs to give the appearance of malnourishment.
All seven of Hollywood's then-existing Technicolor cameras were used to film the burning of the Atlanta Depot. Flames 500 feet high leaped from a set that covered 40 acres. Ten pieces of fire equipment from the Los Angeles Fire Department, 50 studio firemen and 200 studio helpers stood by throughout the filming of this sequence in case the fire should get out of hand. Three 5,000-gallon water tanks were used to quench the flames after shooting.
David O. Selznick asked Alfred Hitchcock for help with the scene in which the women wait for the men from the raid on Shantytown and Melanie reads "David Copperfield". Hitchcock delivered a precise treatment, complete with descriptions of shots and camera angles. He wanted to show Rhett, Ashley, etc., outside the house, dodging the Union soldiers. He also wanted an exchange of meaningful glances between Melanie and Rhett inside the house. Virtually nothing of this treatment was used.
Ann Rutherford got a call at 3:00 am to be on location to pick cotton for a scene. She was licking the blood off her fingers when picking the cotton. David O. Selznick came by to check on her. She showed him the blood. He said, "Good! Good!".
The character of Ashley Wilkes was based on Margaret Mitchell's cousin by marriage John "Doc" Holliday. Melanie was based on Mitchell's third cousin, and Doc's first cousin and close friend, Mattie "Sister Melanie" Holliday. Doc moved West and became the gambler and gunfighter of "Gunfight at the OK Corral" fame. Mattie joined a convent and became a nun, but maintained a correspondence with Doc, who died of tuberculosis in 1887, 13 years before Margaret Mitchell was born.
Super macho director Victor Fleming wanted Scarlett, for at least once in the film, to look like his hunting buddy Clark Gable's type of woman. So, when wearing the stunning low-cut burgundy velvet dress with rhinestones that Scarlett wears to Ashley Wilkes' birthday party in the second half of the film, to achieve the desired cleavage for Fleming, Walter Plunkett had to tape Vivien Leigh's breasts together.
While directing the scene where Prissy says, "Oh Miss Scarlett! I don't know nuthin' 'bout birthin' babies," director George Cukor told Vivien Leigh to actually slap actress Butterfly McQueen--who played Prissy--and to make it as realistic as possible, and directed McQueen to scream. After many takes McQueen broke down in tears, complaining that Leigh was hitting her too hard. In a later interview, McQueen said that she "bargained" with the others, stating that if Leigh hit her, she would NOT scream, but if Leigh's hand only passed close to her face with the illusion of hitting her, she would scream as loudly as she could. McQueen also giggled and said that she thought "Prissy should have been slapped often, because she was horrid!"
In a March 1939 newspaper article, David O. Selznick was reported to be considering producing Gone with the Wind (1939) as two films, as it was felt that the novel was far too long and complex to be successfully made into a single motion picture for the time.
Olivia de Havilland always meticulously researched her roles. As she had not yet had a baby in real life, she visited a maternity hospital to study how various women coped with the stresses of childbirth for the scene where Melanie has her baby. Off-camera, the scene's director, George Cukor, would occasionally pinch her toes to make her feel pain.
Mickey Kuhn, who played Vivien Leigh's nephew Beau Wilkes, also played the young sailor who helps her onto the streetcar in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) 12 years later. When Kuhn mentioned to someone on the set that he had acted with Leigh as a child, word got back to her and she called him into her dressing room for a half-hour chat. In an interview in his 70s, Kuhn stated that Leigh was extremely kind to him and "one of the loveliest ladies he had ever met."
The film had its first preview on 9 September 1939 at the Fox Theatre in Riverside, California. In attendance were David O. Selznick, his wife Irene Mayer Selznick, investor John Hay Whitney and editor Hal C. Kern. Kern called for the manager and explained that his theater had been chosen for the first public screening of this film, although the identity of the film was to remain undisclosed to the audience until the very moment it began. People were permitted to leave only if they didn't want to hang around for a film that they didn't know the name of, but after they'd gone the theater was to be sealed with no re-admissions and no phone calls. The manager was reluctant but eventually agreed. His one request was to call his wife to come to the theater immediately, although he was forbidden to tell her what film she was about to see. Indeed, Kern stood by him while he made his phone call to ensure he maintained the secret. When the film began, the audience started yelling with excitement. They had been reading about this film for nearly two years, so were naturally thrilled to see it for themselves.
After Scarlett returns to a vandalized Tara, digs up a radish in the garden, then retches and gives her famous "As God is my witness . . . " line, the vomiting sounds were actually looped by Olivia de Havilland. One version of the story is that Vivien Leigh "could not" produce a convincing enough retching sound. Another version is that Leigh "would not" make the retching sound because "it simply was not lady-like".
When Scarlett searches for Dr. Meade, making her way among 1,600 suffering and dying Confederate soldiers, to cut costs and still comply with a union rule that dictated the use of a certain percentage of extras in the cast, 800 dummies were scattered among 800 extras. According to the documentary The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind (1988) in addition to saving money the use of dummies was partially because there were not enough extras available due to the fact that four other films requiring a lot of extras were filming that same day.
Prominent Atlanta preacher Martin Luther King Sr. (father of Martin Luther King) was invited to the cotillion ball held in Atlanta at the film's premiere. He had been urged to boycott the festivities by other community leaders because none of the black actors in the film were allowed to attend. King Sr. attended because he was invited--and brought along his famous son with him.
Leslie Howard was one of the few cast members not to attend the premiere in Atlanta. He returned to England before the premiere due to the outbreak of WW2. He served in British intelligence in WW2. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, he made three films during wartime, "the 49th Parallel" (1941), "Pimpernel Smith" (1941) and "First of the Few" (1942). Each of these were known for their pro-Allied slant. In 1943 Howard was touring Portugal and Spain lecturing on film. He and his agent took a KLM/BOAC Flight 777 back to England. On June 1, 1943 this plane, a DC-3, was shot down by Ju-88C8 maritime fighters.
Margaret Mitchell was dismayed at the scale of the Tara and Twelve Oaks sets, writing to her friend, technical advisor Susan Myrick, "I grieve to hear that Tara has columns. Of course, it didn't and looked nice and ugly like Alex Stephens' Liberty Hall [in Crawfordville, Georgia]." And, "I had feared, of course that [Twelve Oaks] would end up looking like the Grand Central Station, and your description confirms my worst apprehensions. I did not know whether to laugh or to throw up at the TWO staircases . . . God help me when the reporters get me after I've seen the picture. I will have to tell the truth, and if Tara has columns and Twelve Oaks is such an elegant affair I will have to say that nothing like that was ever seen in Clayton County, or, for that matter, on land or sea . . . When I think of the healthy, hardy, country and somewhat crude civilization I depicted and then of the elegance that is to be presented, I cannot help yelping with laughter . . . ".
Olivia de Havilland was a contract player at Warner Bros. when MGM made the call to her for the part of Melanie. De Havilland was very keen to take the part and managed to convince her boss Jack L. Warner to let her out of her contract, mainly by getting his wife to exert her influence.
Hattie McDaniel was criticized by some African-Americans for playing in a supposedly racist film. She responded that she would "rather make seven hundred dollars a week playing a maid than seven dollars being one".
To portray Melanie, Olivia de Havilland spent most of the film in drab, dowdy costumes. She wore two elaborate dresses in the film: one when Melanie and Ashley announce their engagement and a striking blue taffeta dress that Melanie wears to Scarlett's first wedding. Unfortunately, due to film aspect ratio at the time (long before the advent of widescreen), the screen could not accommodate two dresses built up with hoop skirts, so they had to be removed. Thus, de Havilland's rare appearance in a beautiful dress was shot from the waist up, with the skirt hanging limp.
In 2004 the film was completely restored from the original three Technicolor negatives. This time digital technology was employed to create results impossible to achieve with traditional methods. The negatives were scanned in at 2K resolution and digitally combined to remove all previous alignment problems and achieve perfect registration despite different amounts of shrinkage in the masters. The resulting digital master is of higher quality than any prints available so far--including the original prints from 1939. The color was timed to be identical to that of the surviving answer print of David O. Selznick, which is the color reference for the film. Reportedly Selznick's original answer print was lost, but it turned up five weeks into the 2004 digital restoration process. The color timing of the new digital master was subsequently stopped and started all over again from scratch. This 2004 digitally restored version looks truly astonishing, particularly when projected with a digital projector. An improved version, this time working at 4K resolution, is already approved and should be finished in 2005. The 2009 Blu Ray release comes from a new improved 8K resolution scan, which is the maximum possible limit for the 70mm format.
The scene where Scarlett makes a dress out of a curtain later was later spoofed on The Carol Burnett Show (1967) in what became one of the most memorable comedy bits in TV history. Carol Burnett as "Starlet" O'Hara wears the curtains with the rod still in them. Harvey Korman as "Rat" Butler says, "Starlet, that gown is lovely", to which she responds,: "Thank you. I just saw it in the window and couldn't resist it!" The sketch was called "Went With the Wind," with Dinah Shore as Melody (a parody of Melanie Hamilton), Vicki Lawrence as Sissy (a parody of Prissy), and Tim Conway as Brashly (a parody of Ashley Wilkes).
Scarlett's son, Wade Hampton Hamilton, was in an early draft of the script, but was cut from the story before filming began. He does appear in a book of paper dolls of the film's characters that was printed before his part was eliminated from the film.
Contrary to popular belief, this is not the first film to use the word "damn". The expletive was used in numerous silent intertitles and in several talkies, including Cavalcade (1933) and Pygmalion (1938). The latter was a British film, not subject to American strictures.
Among lines cut out by the censor are Rhett Butler's: "I've never held fidelity to be a virtue" and "He can't be faithful to his wife with his mind, or unfaithful with his body." Another line that did not make it past the censor from Dilcey, the Negress: "An' what it takes to feed a hungry chil' ah got."
The sequence that is commonly referred to as "the Burning of Atlanta" was not the actual burning of the city by Gen. William T. Sherman in November 1864. Instead, the scene represents the night, two months earlier, when the retreating Confederate army torched its ammunition dumps to keep the Union army from capturing them.
Vivien Leigh's daughter was attending private school in Vancouver, British Columbia, when the movie premiered there on February 16, 1940. She was at the Vancouver premiere, though unannounced, at her mother's insistence.
When Melanie says that Bonnie's eyes are "as blue as the 'Bonnie Blue' flag", she is referring to the popular name of the single-star secession flag that was flown over Georgia after it seceded from the Union (as well as over all other states that did so). It consisted of a single white star over a field of blue. Tradition holds that it flew over Georgia for the first few months of 1861 before being replaced by the better-known "Stars And Bars" (mimicry of the US flag) and "Battle Flag" (the X-shaped cross flag of that has caused such controversy because of its white-supremacy implications) that became the Confederate flags of later years.
One of the reasons that Clark Gable hesitated to do the film was his participation in a previous costume drama, Parnell (1937), in 1937. The film was a critical and financial disaster, and Gable regretted accepting the role.
A few of Margaret Mitchell's working titles for the novel included "Tomorrow is Another Day," "Not in Our Stars", "Bugles Sang True" and "Tote the Weary Load". The most famous working title was, "Ba! Ba! Black Sheep".
The reminiscent wounded soldier in the makeshift Atlanta hospital talking to nurses Scarlett and Melanie about his "brother Jeff" was played by Cliff Edwards. Edwards later provided the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney's classic Pinocchio (1940) and introduced the Academy Award-winning song "When You Wish Upon A Star". Edwards is only heard, not seen, as the reminiscent solder in this film.
Before casting had actually started, Margaret Mitchell was asked (during an interview) who she felt should play Rhett Butler. She replied, "Groucho Marx." This was obviously a joke, and her way of reiterating that she wanted nothing to do with the making of the film.
Nothing in the internal memos of David O. Selznick indicates or suggests that Clark Gable played any role in the dismissal of director George Cukor. Rather, they show Selznick's mounting dissatisfaction with Cukor's slow pace and quality of work. Almost half of Cukor's scenes were scrapped or later re-shot by others. From a private letter from journalist Susan Myrick to Margaret Mitchell in February 1939: "George finally told me all about it. He hated [leaving the production] very much he said but he could not do otherwise. In effect he said he is an honest craftsman and he cannot do a job unless he knows it is a good job and he feels the present job is not right. For days, he told me he has looked at the rushes and felt he was failing . . . the things did not click as it should. Gradually he became convinced that the script was the trouble . . . So George just told David he would not work any longer if the script was not better and he wanted the Sidney Howard script back . . . he would not let his name go out over a lousy picture . . . And bull-headed David said 'OK get out!'" Selznick had already been unhappy with Cukor ("a very expensive luxury") for not being more receptive to directing other Selznick assignments, even though Cukor had remained on salary since early 1937; and in a confidential memo written in September 1938, four months before principal photography began, Selznick flirted with the idea of replacing him with Victor Fleming. "I think the biggest black mark against our management to date is the Cukor situation and we can no longer be sentimental about it . . . We are a business concern and not patrons of the arts . . . ".
David O. Selznick bought the rights to the best-selling novel for $50,000. Louis B. Mayer, Selznick's father-in-law and head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, was determined to make "Gone with the Wind" as an MGM film. He initially offered to buy Selznick out at a handsome profit. Warner Bros. offered Bette Davis, Errol Flynn and advantageous financing. Selznick's own distributor United Artists showed interest in providing a production financing package. However, none of them had an actor capable of portraying Rhett Butler except MGM, which offered a deal that included Clark Gable. After much vacillating on Selznick's part, a deal was struck with MGM on January 19, 1938, that gave Selznick Gable and $1.25 million toward production costs, in return for Selznick giving MGM distribution rights and 50% of the profits, which were further reduced by Loew's Inc.'s 15% interest and a requirement to pay Gable's $4,500-weekly salary and one-third of Gable's $50,000 loan-out bonus. "GWTW" was, of course, a box-office triumph, grossing over $20 million during its initial release alone. Selznick eventually earned $4 million on the picture. Unfortunately, a few years later he sold his rights to John Hay Whitney for a paltry $400,000 to keep his independent production company afloat. Whitney later sold the rights back to MGM for $2.4 million.
Leslie Howard privately felt that he was much too old to play Ashley Wilkes (the character was supposed to be about 21 at the start of the film). He wore extra make-up and a hairpiece to make him appear younger. Selznick was only able to persuade him to take the part by offering him a producer credit on Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939).
The crane shot where Scarlett searches for Dr. Meade, making her way among suffering and dying Confederate soldiers, was Val Lewton's idea. He had previously been David O. Selznick's assistant editor and went on to produce a string of classic horror movies throughout the 1940s.
Vivien Leigh was having an affair with Laurence Olivier at the time the film was made. However, the two were separated because Olivier was working in New York on his stage commitments. Leigh was so determined to reunite with him that she was willing to work until late at night in order to finish shooting more quickly.
While Scarlett has many suitors, loves one man and marries three others, the character has little to no taste for sex. The suitors never touch her, her love for Ashley is chaste, she only has sex with her husbands out of a sense of obligation and abstains from sex for part of her marriage to Rhett. According to Scarlett's own explanation in the novel: sex for her was "a painful and embarrassing process that led inevitably to the still more painful process of childbirth".
While the film was still in production, David O. Selznick wanted to evaluate an audience's response to it. Months before the official gala premiere, the movie was given an unannounced "sneak" preview screening in a small theater in Riverside, some distance outside Los Angeles. The theater was scheduled to show Beau Geste (1939). At this time, many elements of the film were still unfinished, including the opening titles and musical scoring by Max Steiner. For this sneak preview, the studio quickly filmed a "makeshift" opening title sequence. These opening credits, which still survive, show a woman's hand turning the pages of a large book with colorful drawings of Southern scenes accompanied by printed text of the opening credits, accompanied by the opening title music from Selznick's own production of The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) (music by Alfred Newman).
According to Margaret Mitchell herself, the main theme of her novel is actually survival. "What makes some people come through catastrophes and others, apparently just as able, strong and brave, go under? It happens in every upheaval. Some people survive; others don't. What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those that go under? I only know that survivors used to call that quality 'gumption.' So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn't."
The only four actors David O. Selznick ever seriously considered for the role of Rhett Butler were Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn and Ronald Colman. The chief impediment to Gable's casting was his MGM contract. He was not drawn to the material; he didn't see himself in a period production, and didn't believe that he could live up to the public's anticipation of the character. Eventually he was persuaded by a $50,000 bonus, which would enable him to divorce his second wife Maria ("Ria") and marry Carole Lombard.
The initial director, George Cukor, was fired over his problems with the screenplay and the constant alterations to it, which he received almost daily from producer David O. Selznick. When Victor Fleming came on board in February 1939, he also rejected the script. Production was shut down for 17 days while it was rewritten by Ben Hecht. Supposedly, Hecht was not allowed time to read Margaret Mitchell's original novel; instead, Selznick and Fleming would often play out parts from the book, to which Hecht had to write dialogue. Hecht was reportedly commanded by Selznick to write almost continuously for days without breaks, with Selznick bringing him food. Hecht used Sidney Howard's original script (which he felt was superb) as the basis for his rewrite, but only got to re-write the first half, which may be one of the reasons why many consider the first half of the movie to be superior to the second half. Ironically, Hecht did not receive official credit for his writing, with Howard listed as the movie's only screenwriter.
The Tara plantation façade was located at the NW corner of the Forty Acres backlot in Culver City, CA and was dismantled in 1959. The location was later used for the Stalag 13 outdoor set of Hogan's Heroes (1965).
In the first hospital scene the wounded Confederate says he lost track of his brother after the battle of Bull Run. The Confederates referred to those two battles as Manassas, never as Bull Run. Yankees named many battles after bodies of water, Southerners named battles after towns or features of the land.
In the novel, the phrase "gone with the wind" appears only once. Scarlett O'Hara uses the title phrase when she wonders to herself if her home on a plantation called "Tara" is still standing or if it is "gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia."
None of the interior sets had ceilings. These, and the upper parts of many exteriors, were optically added or modified with matte paintings. This is most noticeable to the modern discerning eye in the last shot of the scene showing the many dead and wounded Confederate soldiers. The tattered Confederate flag, previously seen in the astonishing pullback crane shot blowing in the breeze, is now represented by a matte painting, hanging limp.
The 222-minute running time excludes the Overture Music (played before the credits), the Entr'acte Music (played during the intermission) and the Exit Music (played after the film ends). All three were especially recorded for the soundtrack and were heard at the film's original 1939 world premiere. They were seldom played by exhibitors until the 1997 New Line Cinema edition of the film restored them. They are also included on the DVD.
After the opening titles, there is a scene-setting crawl which was originally written by Ben Hecht. Nothing like this appears in the novel and, privately, Margaret Mitchell was none too enthused by it.
If the number of total admissions are calculated, this is the most popular movie of all time in the US with over 200 million tickets sold. While having the advantage of being released several times in theaters, there were one-half to one-third as many Americans alive when it was released, compared with other films that set the domestic box-office record: Avatar (2009), Titanic (1997), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) and Jaws (1975). Direct comparisons are difficult, as subsequent films have seen escalating ticket prices, had to compete with television and later the internet for audiences, and the emergence of home video formats in the 1980s reduced the need to see all films theatrically.
One of the first promising candidates for the role of Scarlett was Adele Longmire, who was 17 at the time. Her parents did not permit her to travel to New York for a screen test, so she did not appear in any film until several years later.
Scarlett O'Hara has some feminist elements. She is rather an intelligent woman (though poorly educated) who manages to run her own business in Atlanta for a while, financially supports her family and somewhat defies gender roles. This was probably influenced by the suffragist and feminist ideas of creator Margaret Mitchell. Mitchell was raised by her mother May Belle Mitchell, president of the Atlanta Woman's Suffrage League (1915). She took her daughter to women's suffrage rallies.
One of the most feminist passages of the novel is the following contemplation by Scarlett: "During the lean months at Tara she had done a man's work and done it well. She had been brought up to believe that a woman alone could accomplish nothing, yet she had managed the plantation without men to help until Will came . . . I believe that women could manage everything in the world without a man's help."
Writer Sidney Howard was paid $2,000 a week to do the screenplay. Many other writers contributed to the final script, with the final sum paid to every one of them being $126,000. Howard received sole screen credit. David O. Selznick also wrote much of the screenplay.
Scarlett spends part of the American Civil War nursing wounded veterans. This was based on historical fact. Southern women played a major role as volunteer nurses working in makeshift hospitals. Many were middle- and upper class women who had never worked for wages or seen the inside of a hospital. In 1862 Confederate laws were changed to permit the employment of women in hospitals as members of the Confederate Medical Department.
The Margaret Mitchell estate has maintained rights to "Gone with the Wind" and related works since the death in the original author. The family of Margaret Mitchell maintained control of the Estate until the death of last member Joseph Mitchell in 2011. At his will, Joseph left much of his fortune and 50% of the Estate to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta.
During the barbecue at Twelve Oaks, the men talked in the stair hall about the coming of war with North. While most of them welcomed the war, Ashley Wilkes warned that many of the miseries of the world were caused by war, while Rhett Butler said that the South didn't have the resources for a long war. Of all the men at that meeting who went off to fight in the war, the only survivors were Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler.
One of the often overlooked subplots of the novel is the decline of Rhett Butler. He starts out as a self-made man, a successful businessman who is never afraid to speak his mind. During the novel he devotes more and more time to his obsession with Scarlett and their daughter Bonnie Blue, starts conforming more to society's expectations and drowns his frustrations in alcohol. Following the death of his daughter and the deterioration of his marriage, Rhett becomes a broken man with alcoholic tendencies. His decision to return to his native Charleston in an attempt to reconnect with his past is hardly a step forward.
In the novel Scarlett based the design of her and Rhett's new house on one she viewed in "Harper's Weekly". That was an actual--and very influential--magazine published from 1857 to 1916. Illustrations were an important part of the Weekly's content, and it developed a reputation for using some of the most renowned illustrators of the time. "Harper's Weekly" was the most widely read journal in the US throughout the period of the American Civil War.
Margaret Mitchell's depictions of black characters are considered controversial. Her own views on African-Americans were influenced by her childhood experience of racial tensions between the affluent Jackson Hill area of Atlanta, where she grew up, and neighboring Darktown, an African-American neighborhood remembered as a "hellhole of squalor, degradation, sickness, crime and misery". There were recurring rumors of black men raping white women, which caused a violent Atlanta race riot (1906). While her family took no part in the anti-black riot, the events took place close to Mitchell's home and she vividly remembered them to adulthood. The African American male was regarded in Georgia as a "black beast rapist".
Scarlett O'Hara starts out as a flirtatious society girl with many suitors. The character has some autobiographical elements. In the early 1920s, Margaret Mitchell herself was a socialite with flapper tendencies and several suitors. At one time she was engaged to five men at the same time.
In the novel, Rhett Butler has a career in smuggling. This element was likely influenced by Margaret Mitchell's first husband Berrien "Red" Upshaw, a criminal who earned his money by bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition.
The novel is seen as a coming-of-age story. The events cover 12 years (1861-73), during which Scarlett O'Hara grows from a 16-year-old to a 28-year-old. It covers her journey from adolescence into adulthood, during which period she changes morally and psychologically.
There is an unresolved subplot in the novel. Brothel madam Belle Watling has a son whose existence is kept secret for some reason. He is studying away from Atlanta. He is implied to have some significance but remains an unseen character. Rhett Butler is also involved with another unseen character, a young boy who serves as his legal ward. Rhett frequently visits New Orleans where the boy is studying. One solution to the identity of the boys is that they are the same character, implying a stronger connection between parent figures Rhett Butler and Belle Watling.
The character of Rhett Butler was partially inspired by Margaret Mitchell's husband nicknamed "Red", to whom she had a short and passionate marriage. Rhett Butler's initials on the handkerchief given to Melanie by Belle are "R.B." or "R.K.B." in the novel, which were the same as Red's- only rearranged.
Despite being partly set in the American Civil War and featuring both soldiers and civilians, "Gone with the Wind" (1936) features no battle scenes. The focus is on the consequences of the battles and the war on combatants and civilians alike. Key scenes depict wounded men, the dying and the dead.
David O. Selznick, in a memo from October 1939 about the movie's writing credits: "You can say frankly that of the comparatively small amount of material in the picture which is not from the book, most is my own personally, and the only original lines of dialog which are not my own are a few from Sidney Howard and a few from Ben Hecht and a couple more from John Van Druten. Offhand I doubt that there are ten original words of Oliver Garrett's in the whole script. As to construction, this is about eighty per cent my own, and the rest divided between Jo Swerling and Sidney Howard, with Hecht having contributed materially to the construction of one sequence."
The opening scenes of the film were originally filmed at the beginning of production, but reshot near the end. After working for months on the demanding shoot, Vivien Leigh had become visibly haggard and needed a break from filming before she could come back to play Scarlett at her youngest and most pampered. The white dress was added for the reshoot to emphasize the sense of Scarlett's virginity and innocence at the start of the film.
While Margaret Mitchell was too young to have experienced the American Civil War (1861-65), much less the antebellum situation of the southern United States, she was given vivid descriptions of them by her family. When she was six years old, her mother took her on a buggy tour through ruined plantations and "Sherman's sentinels", the brick and stone chimneys that remained after Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's "March and torch" through Georgia. Mitchell would later recall what her mother had said to her: "She talked about the world those people had lived in, such a secure world, and how it had exploded beneath them."
While Rhett Butler is a Confederate veteran, following the war he becomes a Scalawag. The term was used to describe Southern whites who supported Reconstruction and the Republican Party. They formed political coalitions with black freedmen and Northern newcomers ("carpetbaggers") to take control of their state and local governments.
Opinion in the African-American community was generally divided upon the release of the film. Some termed it racist and there were protests against in several cities. Others spoke in favor of Hattie McDaniel's warm and witty characterization, feeling that the film featured a strong African-American character. Others were more ambivalent about the actual depiction of African-Americans in the film, but felt that the use of African-American actors in prominent roles could lead to increased visibility on screen for other black actors.
When Alicia Rhett, who played India--the daughter of John Wilkes-died less than one month before her 99th birthday on January 3, 2014, Olivia de Havilland became the last surviving cast member of this movie. This is quite an accomplishment considering the film had over 50 speaking parts. On July 1, 2015, when she turned 99, she also became the cast member with the greatest longevity.
There is a great contrast between the reactions of Scarlett and Rhett to the loss of loved ones in the novel. Scarlett consistently loses everyone she loves and keeps moving forward. Rhett loses only his daughter (to death) and his wife (to divorce) and it breaks him.
Sidney Howard agreed to write the screenplay, but from his home in Massachusetts, 3000 miles away from studio interference. His first draft would have made a 5.5-hour film. Howard reluctantly agreed to leave his Massachusetts farm and come to Hollywood to work on another draft with Selznick and then-attached director George Cukor. As Selznick was preoccupied with problems on the set of The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), Howard had to wait five weeks before he was able to start working on another draft (in the meantime contributing some rewrites for "Zenda"). The second draft turned out to be 15 pages longer than the first.
David O. Selznick always wanted Leslie Howard to play Ashley. He was so certain Howard was right for the part that he never auditioned him but screen-tested him solely to see if he would photograph well in color without recording any audio. The footage of this screen test can be seen on the 70th-anniversary box set along with copies of memos sent by Selznick throughout the studio advocating Howard for the role.
"Scarlett Fever: The Ultimate Pictorial Treasury of Gone with the Wind: Featuring the Collection of Herb Bridges," a pictorial filled with original memorabilia from the film by William Pratt, was published by MacMillan in 1977.
In 1994 Judy Lewis went public with the information that she is indeed the "love child" of Clark Gable and Loretta Young, which had been the subject of speculation in Hollywood for years (Young always claimed she went away for a while, found the girl, and adopted her). Gable's real-life daughter is a close friend of Gable's on-screen daughter in this film, Cammie King Conlon (Bonnie Blue Butler).
Unlike the innocent character of Melanie, Olivia de Havilland was known to have a wicked sense of humor. For example, during a take of 'Clark Gable' having to carry her, de Havilland had her body fastened to the set so Gable almost threw his back out trying to lift her.
The Ku Klux Klan makes a semi-heroic appearance in the novel "Gone with the Wind" (1936) as vigilantes who want to avenge the sexual assault of Scarlett by a black man. This may have been influenced by older works featuring the Klan. Margaret Mitchell had read the books of Thomas Dixon Jr. (1864-1946) and seen the film adaptation of his pro-Klan novel, The Birth of a Nation (1915). As a teenage schoolgirl, Mitchell adapted one of Dixon's novels into a school play and played a Klansman on stage. She made a Ku Klux Klan costume from a white crepe dress.
Much has been written about how the main male characters of "Gone with the Wind", Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes, are far from the macho ideal. Rhett is a dandy, Ashley is effete and both are somewhat effeminate. This is thought to have been influenced by Margaret Mitchell's ideal of a man--her first love, Clifford West Henry. He was a military man but described as "slightly effeminate", "ineffectual", "rather effete-looking" and with "homosexual tendencies". They were engaged but never married. Henry was killed in World War I, posthumously awarded medals for heroic actions.
A major subplot of the novel is the weak health of Melanie Hamilton. She becomes progressively physically weaker, first by childbirth, then "the hard work she had done at Tara," and she ultimately dies after a miscarriage. As Rhett Butler said, "She never had any strength. She's never had anything but heart."
The Wilkes family, as depicted in the novel, is wealthier than the O'Hara family. They are influential and known for their generosity. However, they are considered somewhat odd by their fellows in Clayton County. They are interested in books, music and paintings.
From her three marriages, Scarlett seems more content when married to Frank Kennedy. He is the least attractive of her husbands but allows her to have her way. He has enough money to finance her business plans but not enough courage to express his disagreements with them. This is the marriage that makes her into a successful businesswoman, though there is never a spark of romance.
In the novel, Frank Kennedy is described as a decidedly dull man. His only attempt at heroism is joining the Ku Klux Klan to raid the shantytown, blaming all freedmen for the assault of his wife. He is killed for his efforts. In the film the raid and death is still depicted, but references to the Klan are removed.
Despite the lack of a sequel novel at the time, David O. Selznick and MGM were always interested in creating a sequel film. In 1975 Stephens Mitchell (then in control of the Mitchell estate) authorized a sequel to be jointly produced by MGM and Universal Pictures with a budget of $12 million. Anne Edwards was commissioned to write the sequel as a novel which would then be adapted into a screenplay, and published in conjunction with the film's release. Edwards submitted a 775-page manuscript entitled "Tara, The Continuation of Gone with the Wind", set between 1872-82. It focused on Scarlett's divorce from Rhett; MGM was not satisfied with the story and the deal collapsed.
Officially, the film won eight Academy Awards - Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Screenplay, Color Cinematography, Art Direction and Film Editing. The film also received two other Oscars - an honorary award to William Cameron Menzies for the use of color to enhance the mood of the production; and a technical award to R.D. Musgrave for developing the equipment that allowed for the creation of visual effects with three-strip Technicolor equipment. For years afterward, Selznick and MGM added these two special-category Oscars to the official Oscar count and claimed that the film was the first to win ten Oscars, when in fact Ben-Hur (1959) would earn that distinction twenty years later. Even now, DVD and Blu-Ray boxes of the movie carry the claim "Winner of 10 Academy Awards".
Ashley Wilkes in the novel discusses the reasons Southerners are fighting this war. In his case it is not for states's rights, cotton, the "darkies" (African-American slaves) or hatred of the Yankees. He simply loves his home and country.
Despite its 19th-century setting, "Gone with the Wind" is in part a commentary on the nature and effects of war. It also points that the American Civil War is not the first war with such effects. According to Rhett Butler: "This isn't the first time the word's been upside down and won't be the last. It's happened before and it'll happen again. And when it does, everyone loses everything and everyone is equal. And then they all start again . . . ".
An unseen character in the novel plays an important role in the O'Hara family backstory: Philippe Robillard. A cousin of Ellen Robillard, they fell in love. The family would not allow marriage among cousins, so the relationship had to end. Philippe headed to the western US and was killed in a barroom brawl. Broken-hearted, Ellen wanted to find a way to escape her family and so married Gerald O'Hara, despite his being of a lower social class. She remained loyal to Philippe to her dying day. The subplot is actually one of the minor tragedies of the novel.
In the novel, Ashley Wilkes is about the only Southern character influenced by abolitionism before the War. He says he would have freed his slaves after his father's death, if the war hadn't done it first.
One criticism of the film is that it removed several negative aspects of Southern society and culture described in the novel, providing a more romanticized--some even say sanitized--version of the Old South than its source material.
Rhett Butler is described in the novel as a dandy, a man particularly concerned with his looks and clothing, particularly fashionable and high-quality clothes. The word was coined in the 18th century and grew to describe society figures such as Beau Brummell (1778-1840), Lord Byron (1788-1824) and Alfred d'Orsay (1801-52). Later figures, particularly in the late 19th century, considered dandies were authors such as Oscar Wilde (1854-1900). The dandy has become a familiar figure in fiction, associated with characters as diverse as Dorian Gray, Zorro and Hercule Poirot. In late 19th-century America--especially in what was known as "the Wild West"--the term "dude" was used as a synonym of dandy.
The Ku Klax Klan's portrayal in the novel is overly romantic and wildly inaccurate in its relative lack of violence. The Klan, as one reviewer put it, is depicted as "a benign combination of the Elks Club and a men's equestrian society."
Rhett Butler is infatuated with Scarlett throughout the novel, but declares he is not a marrying man and propositions Scarlett to be his mistress. He marries her after the death of Frank Kennedy, explaining that he won't take a chance on losing her to someone else.
The marriage of Gerald O'Hara and Ellen Robillard, Scarlett's parents, is a case of an older man-younger woman relationship. According to the novel Gerald is 28 years older than her, old enough to be her father.
According to the novel the Tara plantation was built by Gerald O'Hara, He won 640 acres (2.6 km2, or one square mile) of land from its absentee owner during an all-night poker game. The land was mostly wilderness and uncultivated, but Gerald managed to cultivate it and establish a profitable plantation.
In the novel, Rhett Butler and Scarlett marry in 1868. Her motivation is in part financial. Before the marriage, Scarlett had earned enough money to repair Tara. Following the marriage to a much wealthier man, Scarlett is able to do much more for her birthplace. The house is restored and refurnished, the outbuildings are rebuilt, the fields are again stocked with cattle, turkeys,and horses, the land is again planted with cotton. The slaves are replaced by poor white and free black sharecroppers.
While the main house of the Tara plantation is luxurious in both the novel and the film, according to the novel Tara is not a pretty building. Starting out as a small, four-room wooden house built, it was expanded over the years. The final result was a large, rambling affair of whitewashed brick and timber "built according to no architectural plan whatever, with extra rooms added where and when it seemed convenient".
The novel includes several sympathetic characters who lost their wealth in the war, having to survive and rebuild their lives. However, little to no sympathy is extended to those who were poor even before the war. These are depicted mostly as "white trash", if not outright villains.
Gone With the Wind is known as the American War and Peace. Margaret Mitchell's novel about the American War and it's effects on three families and the world of these people before and after the war; is very similar to Tolstoy's fictional dissertation about Napoleon's invasion of Russia; and the effects this has on three families there; and their lives and worlds before and after that war.
Gerald, Scarlet's father, who came from Ireland to Georgia named his land after Tara in Ireland. The Hill of Tara in ancient Irish religion and mythology was the sacred place of dwelling for the gods and kings.
Just returned from the war, Ashley Wilkes is back at Tara helping mend fences by splitting rails. In a conversation with Scarlett, he uses the word "tommyrot". This is a word that was first coined almost 20 years later, in the early 1880s.
Much of the eyewitness information used in writing the novel "Gone with the Wind" (1936) derived from the recollections about the American Civil War and reconstruction of Annie Elizabeth Fitzgerald (1844-1934, married name Stephens). She was Margaret Mitchell's maternal grandmother.
The chapters with the Ku Klux Klan from the book are glossed over in the movie: When the men, Ashley and Rhett,disguise themselves and engage in that ambush; we're not aware that they're dressed up like Klan Members.
Surviving and rebuilding her life requires Scarlett to continuously defy and reject the gender roles associated with white Southern ladies. She performs manual field labor, becomes a capitalist businesswoman, associates with Yankees and drives alone.
Bonnie Blue Butler, the daughter of Scarlett and Rhett, is mostly known by her nickname. In the novel it is explained that her actual name is Eugenie Victoria Butler. She is named after Eugénie de Montijo, Empress consort of the French and Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
Margaret Mitchell modeled the Tara plantation after several local plantations and antebellum establishments in Georgia. Clayton County was chosen because her maternal grandmother Annie Fitzgerald Stephens (1844-1934) was raised in a plantation house there. However, it did not resemble Tara. "Rural Home" was a two-story wooden structure, neither palatial nor glamorous.
In the novel Rhett Butler has a "swarthy face, flashing teeth and dark alert eyes". His physical description has been argued to be based on actor Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926), who Margaret Mitchell once interviewed. She described him in similar terms.
Scarlett's connection to her birthplace, Tara, is a primary theme of the character in the novel. Rhett likens Scarlett's strength to the mythological figure Antaeus who stays strong only when he is in contact with his Mother Earth. Scarlett's mythical mother is Tara.
The Hill of Tara, after which the Tara plantation is named, holds special cultural significance for the Irish people. It is connected to their archaeological, mythical and historical past. Archaeological evidence has revealed that the Hill was in use by local people since the Neolithic era.
In the novel, the freedmen (and women) who stay in service to their old masters tend to prosper more than those out on their own. The first are poor but continue to have housing and regular meals. The others stay in shantytowns, become outcasts, and (in the case of the women) prostitutes. The message is to find happiness in servitude.
In the novel, the old aristocracy of the South, even when impoverished, represents most of the "good" people of the book. The rest are depicted as "good" or "bad" largely depending on the way they relate to them.
The family name O'Hara is the Anglicized form of the Irish name Ó hEaghra. The O'Hara family name in Ireland indicated claimed descent from Eaghra Poprigh mac Saorghus, a tenth-century King of Luighne Connacht.
Scarlett O'Hara's theme of poor education plays a part in both the original novel and later depictions. "GWTW" writer Margaret Mitchell was somewhat better educated, a college dropout. She attended Smith College, a women's college in Northampton, Massachusetts. When her mother May Belle Mitchell died in the flu pandemic, Margaret dropped out of college to take over the household for her father.
Supporting character Uncle Peter, Aunt Pittypat Hamilton's slave and coach driver, is also her primary caretaker. He also helped raise the orphaned Melanie Hamilton. He is the closest thing Melanie has to a father figure.
The sequel novel "Scarlett" (1991) covers the life story of Scarlett following her divorce by Rhett Butler. She reclaims her maiden name and has a child by Rhett following the divorce, Katie Colum "Cat" O'Hara. She reconnects with the extended O'Hara clan and moves to Ireland with her daughter.
The Tara home used in the film was created by art director Lyle R. Wheeler. Following the end of the filming the facade of the building remained in RKO Forty Acres, a studio backlot in Culver City, California, owned by RKO Pictures. In 1957 Forty Acres and its contents were sold to television production company Desilu Productions. In 1959 the facade was sold to Southern Attractions, Inc.
Sidney Howard presented a first draft of the script in February 1937. It was a script for a five and a half hour movie. In April, Howard reluctantly agreed to come to Los Angeles for the revisions, but it wasn't until July that Howard, David O. Selznick and George Cukor finally began to work on the script. By August, they had a second draft, which was fifteen pages longer than the first.
The religious beliefs of Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler are ambiguous in the novel. Remorseful for her part in the death of Frank Kennedy, Scarlett says, "I'm afraid I'll die and go to hell." Rhett replies, "Maybe there isn't a hell", suggesting at least disbelief in the religious concepts of salvation and eternal punishment, if not outright deviation from Christianity.
The depiction of the Reconstruction era in the novel is largely consistent with the positions of the Dunning School, a tradition of American historians. Their positions have been summarized as following: 1) Reconstruction was a period of legislative interference by northern Republicans and was characterized by large-scale corruption. 2) The northerners crushed the old planter class with excessive taxation and pocketed the money. 3) The Ku Klux Klan and other "redeemers" were formed in reaction to the crisis, and aimed primarily to restore older and stable self-government to the South. 4) The Northern occupying forces, the freedmen and their collaborators were outright villains. These views were primarily popular between the 1900s and 1960s, and many of those views are still popular in the Southern United States.
The novel "Gone with the Wind" (1936) was actually the only novel by Margaret Mitchell (1900-49) published during her lifetime. Her first novella, "Lost Laysen" (1916), remained unpublished until 1996. Her first novel, "The Big Four", remains unpublished and is considered lost. Her novelette "'Ropa Carmagin" was rejected by publishers as too short to be of interest.
While the character Scarlett O'Hara was Irish-American, her creator Margaret Mitchell was a bit more varied in origin. Her paternal ancestors, the Mitchell family, were Scottish, originally from Aberdeenshire. They settled in Georgia in 1777. Her maternal ancestors, the Fitzgerald and Stephens families, were Irish.
Both of Margaret Mitchell's grandfathers were Confederate veterans. Paternal grandfather Russell Crawford Mitchell served in the Texas Brigade, often referred to as Hood's Brigade. After being severely wounded in battle, he spent the rest of the war as a male nurse. Her maternal grandfather John Stephens was a captain in the Confederate Army.
Destruction of homes and destruction by fire are themes in "Gone with the Wind". This might be influenced by more than Civil War accounts. Author Margaret Mitchell's childhood residence was lost in the Great Atlanta fire of 1917, which destroyed 1,900 structures and displaced over 10,000 people. Though she had moved out by then, she could remember the fire.
Besides her literary work in adulthood, Margaret Mitchell was also the writer of many stories during her childhood, preteen and teenage years. Many have been preserved. Themes of romantic love and honor first appear in her work with the story "The Knight and the Lady" (c. 1909) and recur in her later work. Starting with "The Arrow Brave and the Deer Maiden" (c. 1913), themes of interracial romance start appearing. The latter theme did not really influence "Gone with the Wind", but appears in some of her other literary work.
Among Scarlett O'Hara's most controversial decisions in the novel is seducing and marrying Frank Kennedy for his money. This both makes Scarlett a gold-digger and has her betray her sister Suellen, who was betrothed to Frank. Yet Scarlett's decision is explained by "the end justifies the means" line of thinking. It is the only way to save her family from a dire financial situation.
When introduced in the novel, the clothes of Ashley Wilkes are described in detail. One detail has drawn attention by commentators: "the head of a Medusa in cameo on his cravat pin". Medusa is a female figure of Greek mythology, a Gorgon described as having venomous snakes in place of hair. Gazing directly into her eyes would turn onlookers to stone. When decapitated, her head continued to retained its ability to turn onlookers to stone, as a weapon. The head of Medusa has been depicted often in art and literature since antiquity and interpreted in various ways. Sigmund Freud famously associated the image with castration. Whether its inclusion in the novel signifies something for Ashley or whether it is a throwaway detail is unknown.
Rhett Butler is the most passionate and virile character in the novel, associated with "dark sexuality". However, he is troubled by his personal demons, mostly in the form of prostitutes and liquor. He is closely associated with prostitute Belle Watling and at times lives in her brothel. He is often drunk, particularly when in anguish.
Scarlett's younger sister Caroline Irene ("Carreen") O'Hara was engaged to soldier Brent Tarleton. When he dies in the war, Carreen never recovers. She finds solace in religion and eventually becomes a nun.
The O'Hare family has only girls, but this is due to the boys in the family dying young. According to the novel, there were three boys of Ellen and Gerald O'Hara who died in infancy and are buried 100 yards from the house at Tara under twisted cedars. The headstone of each boy is inscribed "Gerald O'Hara, Jr."
Will Benteen, Tara's eventual manager and Scarlett's brother-in-law, is of poor background. He is described in the novel as a "South Georgia Cracker". Cracker is a derogatory term for poor rural whites.
Scarlett's suitors Brent and Stuart Tarleton are red-haired twins. They are minor but colorful characters in the novel. The were in frequent scrapes, loved practical jokes and gossip. They joined the Confederate Army and were killed in the Battle of Gettysburg (1863). Their siblings Boyd and Tom were also killed in the War.
Beatrice Tarleton, mistress of the Fairhill plantation and matriarch of the Tarleton family, is a minor but colorful character. She runs the largest horse-breeding farm in Georgia and is hot-tempered and domineering. She never whips her slaves or horses and does not allow anyone else to whip them. But she herself whips her unruly sons.
Cathleen Calvert is mentioned in the novel as Scarlett's neighbor and friend. She is reportedly the second most popular girl in their native Clayton County, Georgia, with many suitors. She eventually marries Mr. Hilton, her plantation's Yankee overseer.
Pierre Robillard, Scarlett's maternal grandfather, dislikes Roman Catholicism despite the fact that most of his family consists of Catholics. He disapproved of his daughter Ellen's marriage to Gerald O'Hara, but she threatened that the alternative was for her to become a nun, an idea he liked even less.
Despite having an Irish-American protagonist, "Gone with the Wind" actually falls in with the long-running strain of anti-Irish sentiment in American culture, which existed in the 1860s, when the novel was set, and in the 1930s, when the novel was written. Ethnic slurs directed toward the Irish and derogatory Irish stereotypes pervade the novel, and Scarlett is not an exception to the insults.
While Gerald nominally continues running the Tara plantation until losing his mind, the novel indicates that his wife Ellen was actually the hands-on manager of day-to-day operations. He depended on her.
Rhett Butler was rather wild in his younger days. The novel includes the following details about his youth: He was expelled from West Point for drunkenness and something about women, he "compromised" a girl in Charleston and fought and killed her brother. His father thew him out of the house when he was 20 years old and erased his name from the family Bible. He headed to California during the Gold Rush and from there to South America and Cuba. He was involved in scrapes about women, several shootings, smuggled guns to revolutionists in Central America, and spent time as a professional gambler.
The name Butler derives from the occupation "butler"; the term is derived from the Norman French "butuiller". As pointed in the sequel "Scarlett" (1991), the most famous family of that name is Irish. Founded by Theobald Walter, 1st Baron Butler (d. 1206), one of the first Norman landholders in Ireland. Members of the Butler dynasty include the Earls of Ormond, a politically powerful family.
Melanie derives from Greek and Latin "Melania", meaning "blackness". The Greek root is "melas" ("black, dark"). While two Christian saints had the name Melania, the name and its derivatives were rare until the 20th century. It is thought that the popularity of the character Melanie Hamilton increased the name's popularity.
In his autobiography, Malcolm X has this to say: "I remember one thing that marred this time for me: the movie 'Gone with the Wind.' When it played in Mason, I was the only Negro in the theater, and when Butterfly McQueen went into her act, I felt like crawling under the rug."
Margaret Mitchell was more of a tomboy than her female characters. From ages 3-14, she was dressed in boys' pants, played with her brother and was nicknamed "Jimmy". The nickname derived from the comic strip character "Little Jimmy" (1904-58) by cartoonist Jimmy Swinnerton (1875-1974).
Scarlett O'Hara loves to dance and scandalizes the high society of her time. The character has some autobiographical elements. In 1921 Margaret Mitchell scandalized high society by performing an Apache dance with a male partner. The Apache was a French style of dance, inspired by the Apache (the nickname of the Parisian underworld). The dance is sometimes said to re-enact a violent "discussion" between a pimp and a prostitute. It includes mock slaps and punches, the man picking up and throwing the woman to the ground, or lifting and carrying her while she struggles or feigns unconsciousness. Mitchell completed her dance with a public kiss that was described by the local press.
The novel is ambivalent about its depiction of male freedmen during the Reconstruction era. Scarlett O'Hara when passing next to a shantytown is attacked by two freedmen. She is rescued by Big Sam, the former Negro foreman from Tara. He is still loyal to the O'Hara family.
The Shetland pony "Mr. Butler", owned by Bonnie Blue Butler, plays an important part in a subplot. Its presence in 1870s Atlanta is a bit of an anachronism. Shetland ponies are native to the Shetland Islands of Scotland. There are no records of their importation to the US prior to 1885.
Much is made in the novel about the proper way to ride horses and ponies for girls. Bonnie Blue Butler at first rides with her dress flying up. She is then trained to a more lady-like pose, riding sidesaddle. In this position a rider (usually female) sits aside rather than astride an equine. Sitting aside dates back to antiquity and developed in European countries in the Middle Ages as a way for women in skirts to ride a horse in a modest fashion.
While slavery is discussed in the novel and adaptation, it is not one of the main themes. While slaves are part of the supporting cast, no major character is a slave. This has led critics to point to the novel as a late example of Anti-Tom literature, aka "plantation literature". This was a 19th-century genre in which slavery was depicted from the perspective and values of the slaveholder and tended to present slaves as docile and happy. It came about largely as a Southern reaction to the abolitionist novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-96).
The Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution (1865), which both set slaves free, have minimal effects on the plot of the novel and its film adaptation. Minor black characters and the masses of former slaves who become freedmen largely wander off. Meanwhile, named house servants such as Mammy, Pork, Prissy and Uncle Peter continue to serve the same masters and their families. They either don't want to leave or have nowhere to go. Scarlett thinks to herself, "There were qualities of loyalty and tirelessness and love in them that no strain could break, no money could buy". This attitude continues to exist in certain segments of Southern society, which still believe that blacks were better off under slavery.
The skin colors of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara are strongly contrasted in the novel. His skin is "swarthy", dark, while her skin is "magnolia-white". While both are seen as white characters, some reviewers think that the contrast was influenced by Margaret Mitchell's personal fascination with interracial romance.
The depiction of slavery in the novel is considered controversial and overly romantic. The field slaves are hardly visible in the pre-war chapters. The slaves are neither whipped nor chained, contrary to common practice in the actual slave-holding South.
In the novel rumors of an affair between Scarlett and Ashley Wilkes circulate, following a brief moment of physical contact. Her husband Rhett reacts badly, but the argument leads to a night of drunken sex, actually their first time in years.
The novel accurately depicts the rigid class system in the Southern US before the Civil War. The upper class is represented by white plantation owners and their families. The lower class is represented by black slaves, the most prominent among them being the house servants, somewhat better off than the field hands, who are at the very bottom of the system, doing the hardest work for the least compensation.
Melanie's death can in part be blamed on herself. She was warned that she was too unhealthy to give birth to another child and that another pregnancy would kill her. She still wants to be a mother again and dies for it.
Scarlett O'Hara marries several times and has negative experiences from them. The character has some autobiographical elements. Margaret Mitchell married twice. Her first husband was abusive and the marriage ended in divorce. Her second husband was John R. Marsh, the best man in her first wedding.
Scarlett O'Hara defies 19th-century gender roles by having a career as a businesswoman. Besides a feminist influence, the event has some influence from author Margaret Mitchell's own experiences. Despite being a socialite from a wealthy family, when in need of money of her own Margaret took a job as a journalist. The very idea was considered a minor scandal in Atlanta's high society of the 1920s. Her career lasted from 1922-26. She wrote 129 feature articles, 85 news stories and several book reviews.
While Scarlett O'Hara is remembered as a prominent Irish-American character, only her paternal ancestry is Irish. Her father Gerald O'Hara is an Irish immigrant who earned his own fortune. Her mother Ellen Robillard is French-American, member of an older and more aristocratic family.
Rhett Butler spends the early part of the American Civil War profiteering from owning blockade runners, lighter-weight ships used for evading a naval blockade. The Union ran an extensive blockade of Southern ports in an attempt to starve the Confederates of supplies. Blockade running played a large part in the Confederate economy and war effort. The ships transported goods to and from foreign countries, primarily the British Empire. Profits were great, though the operations were risky--US Navy ships preferred to sink blockade runners when they caught them on the open sea rather than capture them and tow them back to port.
One of the main supporting characters of the novel and adaptation seems to have no personal name: Mammy. Mammy is not a name. It is the position and character type of a black woman who works as a nursemaid, nanny and/or general housekeeper to a white family. The character first appeared in 19th-century Southern written accounts and grew to prominence in post-American Civil War popular history and fiction.
Scarlett O'Hara is considered a prominent example of the "Southern belle" character type. Originally the term was applied to young, unmarried woman in the plantation-owning upper class of Southern society. It is associated with fashion items such as hoop skirts, corsets, pantalettes, wide-brimmed straw hats, gloves, parasol umbrellas and hand fans. Southern belles were expected to marry respectable young men, and become ladies of society dedicated to the family and community. Many examples and deconstructions have been used in fiction, and the term has grown to include older Southern women.
In the novel Scarlett idolizes her mother, a proper lady who runs the large household of Tara. The novel paints her as something of a sainted figure, hinting that she masked a broken heart from an early romantic loss and a resigned attitude to life.
Some literary analysts have pointed that both Scarlett and Melanie embody the positive and negative attributes of the "Southern belle" type. Trust, self-sacrifice, and loyalty for Melanie; deceitfulness, shrewdness, manipulativeness and superficiality for Scarlett.
Scarlett is married three times: to Charles Hamilton, Frank Kennedy, and Rhett Butler. In the novel, she has three children, one from each marriage: Wade Hampton Hamilton, Ella Lorena Kennedy, and Eugenie Victoria "Bonnie Blue" Butler. Her fourth pregnancy ends in miscarriage.
Charles Hamilton, Melanie's brother and Scarlett's first husband, is an early casualty of the American Civil War. He joined the Confederate Army but died of pneumonia before ever reaching a battlefield.
Scarlett's only son in the novel, Wade Hampton Hamilton. is named after Gen. Wade Hampton III (1818-1902), commander of Hampton's Legion. The Legion was a Conferedate military unit organized and partially financed by Hampton, a wealthy South Carolina plantation owner. Initially composed of infantry, cavalry and artillery battalions, elements of Hampton's Legion participated in virtually every major campaign in the Eastern Theater, from the first to the last battle.
The supporting character Pork, Gerald O'Hara's valet, was the first slave ever owned by Gerald. According to the novel the Irish immigrant won Pork in a poker game. Pork continued to serve Gerald to his master's death.
Aunt Pittypat Hamilton's house in Atlanta, where Melanie and Scarlett spend part of the war, is described as having been built on Peachtree Street, a famous historic street in Atlanta serving as its main street. However, it was not always prosperous. After the Civil War a shantytown called Tight Squeeze developed at Peachtree. It was infamous for vagrancy, desperation and robberies of merchants transiting the settlement.
Besides the film, the novel "Gone with the Wind" has received other adaptations. Among them are the Japanese-British theatrical musical "Scarlett" (1970), the Japanese theatrical musical with an all-female cast "Kaze to Tomo ni Sarinu" (1977), the French theatrical musical "Autant en Emporte le Vent" (2003), the Hungarian ballet of the same name (2007), the British theatrical musical "Gone with the Wind" (2008), and the Canadian theatrical version of the same name (2013).
During the late days of the Civil War, Ellen O'Hara and her daughters Suellen and Carreen get sick with typhoid fever. Ellen dies but her daughter survives. The survival is attributed in the novel to treatment with laudanum and quinine by a Union surgeon.
While the Tara plantation was in increasing financial troubles during the war, its reduction to a ruin is attributed to its occupation by Union troops. In the novel this is described in detail. The soldiers chop down the trees surrounding the home, destroy the outbuildings, use much of the fencing for firewood, slaughter the livestock and pillage the vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. They even unearth graves in the family and slave cemeteries to search for valuables buried under false headstones.
Ellen O'Hara, Scarlett's mother, is French-American in "Gone with the Wind" (1936). In "The Wind Done Gone" (2001), she has a secret of her own. She is of mixed European and African ancestry. By the one-drop rule, Ellen and and her children are Negroes.
Besides the authorized sequels and prequel of "Gone with the Wind", there is a significant derivative work: The best selling novel "The Wind Done Gone" (2001) by Alice Randall. It features the same characters under different names, re-interprets them and expands on their personal histories and interactions. It also gives a more prominent role to the slaves and freedmen of the original novel.
In "Gone with the Wind", the character Pork is Gerald O'Hara's first and most loyal slave. In the "The Wind Done Gone" (2001), Pork is given a more substantial role. He is the mastermind behind his master's success, his master's marriage and the one actually running Tara. He is also the main suspect for the death of Gerald.
Margaret Mitchell was an avid reader as a child and had many favorite books. Among then was an American Civil War novel with some influence on "Gone with the Wind" (1936): "Cease Firing" (1912) by Mary Johnston. "Between the "scream of shells, the mighty onrush of charges, the grim and grisly aftermath of war", "Cease Firing" is a romance involving the courtship of a Confederate soldier and a Louisiana plantation belle".
According to the novel, Rhett Butler attended the US Military Academy at West Point but never graduated. Still, this experience was enough for the Confederate Army. When he enlisted, Rhett was assigned to the artillery due to his previous experience.
The Ku Klux Klan plays a minor part in the novel, but it was actually a prominent and powerful force in the Reconstruction-era South. It was founded by disgruntled Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee, and soon spread to several states. It was only one of several similar organizations, such as the Southern Cross and the Knights of the White Camelia. However, the Klan was the main target of the efforts of the American government to restore order to the Southern United States. Under continued pressure by the authorities the Klan largely dissolved by 1871.
In the novel, Bonnie Blue Butler wants a horse, but her father Rhett feels she is too young for one. He buys her a Shetland pony because he feels the size is better for her. Shetland ponies' size range is 28 inches to 44 inches tall 71.12 cm to 112 cm.
While Will Benteen marries Suellen O'Hara, whether he loves her or did so to take over Tara is uncertain. In the novel, he is smitten by her younger sister Carreen O'Hara. Carreen is not interested in him and leaves Tara to join a convent.
Minor characters Hetty, Camilla, 'Randa and Betsy Tarleton, sisters of Brent and Stuart Tarleton, are mentioned in the novel as examples of feminine beauty. They are all redheads, but with varying shades of red hair.
Hugh Calvert, owner of the Pine Bloom and father of Cathleen Calvert, is a minor character in the novel but involved in a minor sex scandal. He marries his second wife, the Yankee governess of his children.
Emmie Slattery is described in the novel as a prominent example of poor white trash, daughter of a family from the swamps of Clayton County. She is the mistress of Jonas Wilkerson, the Yankee overseer at Tara, and gives birth to an illegitimate child. Following the War she marries Wilkerson, becomes nouveau riche, and attempts to buy Tara.
The Tara plantation is named after the Hill of Tara, an archaeological site in County Meath, Ireland. According to traditional history, it was the coronation place and seat of the High Kings of Ireland.
According to "Gone with the Wind", Gerald O'Hara is the only member of his family who emigrated to the US only to return to the life of a farmer. His brothers who also emigrated are merchants in Savannah, Georgia.
While the original novel mentioned several relatives of Rhett Butler, only his sister Rosemary is named. The sequel "Scarlett" (1991) names his parents Steven and Eleanor, his younger brother is named Ross. In the other sequel "Rhett Butler's People" (2007), his parents are named Langston and Elizabeth, his brother is called Julian.
The name Hamilton is British in origin. It is relatively common in Scotland and there is a Clan Hamilton, active since the 13th century. The head of the Clan is the Duke of Hamilton. The city of Hamilton in Scotland is named after the Clan.
The name Ashley is used as both a masculine and feminine name. It derives from the Old English words 'æsc' (ash) and 'leah' (meadow). Originally used mostly for place names, use of the term as the first name of boys has been recorded since the 16th century. The name became popular for girls in the late 20th century.
The ethnic origin of Frank Kennedy, Scarlett's second husband, is uncertain. The name Kennedy is Gaelic in origin, popular in both Ireland and Scotland. There is a Clan Kennedy in Scotland, the clan chief being the Marquess of Ailsa. There is also a prominent family called O'Kennedy or Kennedy in Ireland, active since the 11th century. They were Lords of Ormond.
The idea of a sequel to this film was scrapped, but in the 1990s there was a sequel in the form of a television miniseries. The series was Scarlett (1994), based on the sequel novel of the same name. 'Joanne Whalley' (qv was cast as Scarlett and 'Timothy Dalton' was cast as Rhett.
Melanie Hamilton's sickly disposition and early death can be directly linked to the inbreeding heritage in her family. The inherent problem with inbreeding is that it leads to a decreased biological fitness of a population, which is its ability to survive and reproduce. The old aristocratic Hamilton family is implied to be less fit to survive than the upstart O'Hara family.
Scarlett O'Hara had no real female friends growing up and even her relationships with her younger sisters were strained. Throughout the novel and its adaptation, her only close female friendship is with her original sister-in-law Melanie Hamilton, who is ironically her rival for Ashley Wilkes' heart. Melanie's death is a major blow to Scarlett by the finale.
The description in the novel of African-American freedmen during the Reconstruction era is considered quite racist. They are described as behaving as "creatures of small intelligence might naturally be expected to do. Like monkeys or small children turned loose among treasured objects whose value is beyond their comprehension, they ran wild--either from perverse pleasure in destruction or simply because of their ignorance."
The marriage of Gerald O'Hara and Ellen Robillard is described as objectionable in the novel because the two came from different ethnic, religious and class backgrounds. For modern readers, the most controversial aspect of the marriage is the ages of the couple. The groom was 43, the bride only 15.
The depiction of the Ku Klux Klan in the novel is semi-heroic. They are vigilantes who are ready to avenge attacks on white women by black men. However, when the occupying authorities engage them in combat, they have to flee. They are rescued by Rhett Butler (a Scalawag) and Belle Watling (a brothel owner).
The novel contains a particularly intense moment of marital strife. When Scarlett complains about becoming pregnant by Rhett for a second time, he replies, "Cheer up, maybe you'll have a miscarriage." She attacks him, but he dodges. She then falls down the stairs and actually has a miscarriage.
Mammy is a more sinister character in "The Wind Done Gone" (2001). She genuinely loves Scarlett but it is implied that she killed the infant sons of her master and lover Gerald O'Hara. The three deaths are mentioned in "Gone with the Wind" (1936) but were left unexplained.
Scarlett somewhat grows out of the role of the Southern belle. Raised in luxury and pampered by her parents, she later experiences much hardship and poverty. She endures and survives to rebuild Tara and her self-esteem.
India Wilkes, Ashley's sister, is a minor but persistent foe of Scarlett. She is a plain-looking "old maid" who cannot stand that all men around her fall for Scarlett, in particular her love interest Stuart Tarleton and (in the film) Charles Hamilton.
The proper first name of Honey Wilkes, Ashley's and India's sister, is unknown. "Honey" is a nickname, given because she indiscriminately addresses everyone, from her father to the field hands, by that endearment.
Some negative reviews of the novel in 1936 suggested that it was too long for its subject matter. As one reviewer put it: "A more disciplined and less prodigal piece of work would have more nearly done justice to the subject matter."
The protagonist of the derivative work "The Wind Done Gone" (2001) is Cynara, Scarlett's paternal half-sister. She is of mixed race, daughter of Gerald O'Hara and Mammy. She is born a slave and serves as a lifelong rival of her half-sister.
While Gerald O'Hara genuinely loves his wife Ellen, his original motive for marrying her might have been financial. According to the novel, her hand-in-marriage came with a substantial dowry. It was used to buy more land and slaves.
In the novel, while the Yankee occupation of the South during Reconstruction is depicted as a period of oppression, not all Southerners are oppressed. Formerly impoverished people like the Slatery family benefit from the regime change and become nouveau riche ("new money"). This is not depicted as a positive result.
In the novel the depictions of heroes and villains during Reconstruction is somewhat biased. Members of the old aristocracy like Scarlett, poor whites like Jonas Wilkerson and even the black freedmen use equally opportunist or criminal methods in an an attempt to survive or get rich. However, the former aristocracy is seen as "heroes" and the rest as "villains".
While Gerald O'Hara is supposedly a self-made man, by the time the book starts he has become a gentleman of leisure. The management duties of his plantation house and the Tara plantation in general are handled by his wife Ellen and their overseers.
One of the controversial business decisions made by Scarlett is the use of convict labor in her lumberyard. However, this is somewhat consistent with her background. She grew up in a plantation making use of slave labor; why would she treat convicts any differently than slaves? When Ashley objects to profiteering "from the enforced labor and misery of others", Scarlett points out that he already did that by owning slaves.
The teamwork of Scarlett and Melanie while living at Tara is one of the most endearing aspects of the novel, but that teamwork stops when they move back to Atlanta. Their interactions become more limited.
The poem is a quote from an Ernest Dowson poem "Cynara! Gone with the Wind! " This is where the title came from. It's also were the lead character of the Gone With the Wind spoof, The Wind Done Gone, comes from.
Three of the four principal actors--Leslie Howard, Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable--died at relatively young ages. Olivia de Havilland outlived them all by at least 40 years and is the only one who remains alive (as of 2014). Ironically, her character is the only one who dies in the film.
In 1939 the Hollywood Production Code dictated what could and could not be shown or said on screen, and Rhett Butler's memorable last line presented a serious problem. A few of the suggested alternatives were "Frankly my dear . . . I just don't care," ". . . it makes my gorge rise," " . . . my indifference is boundless," " . . . I don't give a hoot," and " . . . nothing could interest me less." Although legend persists that the Hays Office fined David O. Selznick $5,000 for using the word "damn", in fact the Motion Picture Association board passed an amendment to the Production Code on November 1, 1939, to ensure that Selznick would be in compliance with the code. Henceforth, the words "hell" and "damn" would be banned except when their use "shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore . . . or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste." With that amendment, the Production Code Administration had no further objection to Rhett's closing line, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
The movie's line "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." was voted as the #1 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). The closing line, "After all, tomorrow is another day!" was number 31 on the AFI's list of movie quotes. "As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again!" was number 59 on the list. Only Casablanca had more quotes on the list.
Perhaps because the movie had so many cooks, it accumulated an unusually large number of major scenes which occur on stairways. Scarlett first views Rhett Butler down a stairway; Butterfly McQueen ("Prissy") is slapped on the landing of a stairway for complicating Melanie's pregnancy; Scarlett shoots a Yankee in the face on a stairway; Rhett charges up a stairway with Scarlett in his arms to force himself on her; and Scarlett falls down a stairway and miscarries.
The Ku Klux Klan was written out of the screenplay as the organization to which Frank Kennedy turns after Scarlett is attacked in Shantytown. David O. Selznick said that he had no desire to remake The Birth of a Nation (1915), telling screenwriter Sidney Howard in 1937, "I do hope you will agree with me on this omission of what might come out as an unintentional advertisement for intolerant societies in these fascist-ridden times . . . ".
Charles Hamilton's death certificate is signed Wade Hampton, a real-life Confederate general. In the book, Charles and Scarlett have a son, Wade Hampton Hamilton, named after this general. Little Wade was in an early draft of the script but was cut before filming began. He does appear in a book of paper dolls of the film's characters that was printed before his part was cut.
The film is neatly divided in half. Almost exactly 50% of the movie takes place during the Civil War, the other half takes place in the period following the war, known as the Reconstruction. The transition comes at exactly the half-movie mark in some editions of the film, depending on how the overtures and intermission are edited.
Gerald O'Hara is an excellent horseman, sometimes seen leaping fences on his horse while intoxicated. He dies in a horse riding accident. His granddaughter Bonnie Blue Butler resembles him in appearance and love of riding. She dies of an accident similar to that of her grandfather.
The foreman of the Tara plantation, Big Sam (owned by the O'Hara family) notably does not leave of his own free will. He is taken away by Confederate soldiers to dig ditches. The field hands run off during upon the Yankee's arrival to Tara. Only Mammy, Pork, Dilcey, and Prissy remain.