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.
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.
When Gary Cooper turned down the role of Rhett Butler, he was passionately against it. He is quoted as saying "Gone With the Wind 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.
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.
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.
The film has never been cut. Some theatrical re-releases and home video releases are longer, because of the restored Overture, Intermission, Entr'Acte, and Exit Music, not because any deleted scenes have been restored and added.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.
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".
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".
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.
In a March 1939 newspaper article, David O. Selznick was reported to be considering producing this film 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.
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.
Unlike the innocent character of Melanie Hamilton, Olivia de Havilland was known to have a wicked sense of humor. For example, during a take of Rhett Butler having to carry Melanie to the carriage to leave Atlanta during its siege, de Havilland had her body fastened to the set, so Clark Gable almost threw his back out trying to lift her.
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."
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.
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.
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."
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 . . . ".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 timeless 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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 and convinced Selznick that it had to be rewritten. Production was shut down for 17 days while the script 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 both he and Fleming 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.
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 (1939).
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 . . . ".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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. None of them, however, 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 the 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. "Gone with the Wind" 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.
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.
Despite the lack of a sequel novel at the time, David O. Selznick and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Director Victor Fleming did not attend the world premiere of Gone with the Wind (1939) in Atlanta, Georgia. He stayed behind in Los Angeles, California to attend the funeral of his mentor, hunting companion, and good friend, Douglas Fairbanks, the great silent star for whom he had been chief cinematographer twenty years before.
Pictured on one of four 25¢ US commemorative postage stamps issued 23 March 1990 honoring classic films released in 1939. The stamps featured Stagecoach (1939), Beau Geste (1939), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and this film.
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.
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.
Officially, the film won eight competitive Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Screenplay, Cinematography (Color), Art Direction, and Film Editing. The film also received two other Academy Awards: an Honorary Award to William Cameron Menzies for the use of color to enhance the mood of the production; and a Scientific and Technical Achievement 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 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer added these two special-category Academy Awards to the official Oscar count and claimed that the film was the first to win ten Academy Awards, when in fact West Side Story (1961) would earn the distinction, twenty-two years later. Even now, all of the home video releases of "Gone with the Wind" carry the claim: "Winner of 10 Academy Awards, Including Best Picture".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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".
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).
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."
Keying Melanie's pregnancy to outer events, puts its length at twenty-one months. Informed of the discrepancy, author Margaret Mitchell joked that Southerners are geared to do things at a slower pace than Northerners.
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.
the record of $1.5 million paid by Michael Jackson to acquire David O. Selznick's "Gone With the Wind" Oscar in 1999, is the most ever paid for an Oscar. Auctions of Oscar statuettes are very uncommon because winners from 1951 onward have had to agree that they or their heirs must offer it back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for $1 before selling it to someone. The says Oscars should be won, not bought.
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."
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.
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.
David O. Selznick's first choice to direct Gone with the Wind (1939) was George Cukor, with whom Selznick had a long working relationship, and who had already spent almost two years in pre-production on the film. After filming had been officially commenced, Cukor came into conflict with Clark Gable and Selznick on the set. Gable thought Cukor, seen as a "woman's director", was giving too much attention to Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland, while Selznick felt the film, under Cukor's direction, lacked dynamism. The director and producer also quarreled against each other on the direction of the film and the script, the latter of which had not been completed yet and still going through countless revisions from different writers. After less than three weeks of principal photography, Cukor was fired by Selznick. With the budget and production problems accelerating to the extreme, Selznick was frantic to find a new director as soon as possible. At Gable's suggestion, the producer, then, thought about Victor Fleming. To be sure before he made an official decision, Selznick went to the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio to view footage from Fleming's latest picture, The Wizard of Oz (1939), which was not yet released. After viewing all of the footage, Selznick was astonished. He was highly impressed by the film and Fleming's direction. He saw Fleming as a visionary filmmaker, who can expertly (1) create a film with an epic size and scope of titanic proportions and with great ambition; (2) create a world-building universe where audiences can instantly be transported to, where they can be part of the story and action; (3) mix and blend different film genres that would work beautifully and perfectly with a particular story; (4) imbue great sensitivity to the characters; and (5) coach great performances from his actors. Just from watching the footage for "Oz", Selznick believed that Fleming, as a director, would have the same qualities, ambition, and vision that Selznick had and needed for Gone with the Wind (1939). When talking about the director with Louis B. Mayer, then-head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Selznick learned that Fleming was also a consummate studio director, who was capable of doing the job, keep it under control, take it home, get it done, and deliver exactly what the studio wanted, while adhering true to his own instincts and vision in filmmaking. That further endeared to Selznick. After reviewing other potential candidates for the position, he decided that Fleming should be the one to direct the film. MGM, then, called in Fleming from The Wizard of Oz (1939) to direct Gone with the Wind (1939). The director, himself, initially had some reservations about directing the film, but after a couple of meetings with Selznick, he shared the producer's ambition for the film and began to believe that he can do it and, after a short time, finally agreed to direct the picture. King Vidor stepped in to direct the sept-tone Kansas sequences and a couple of re-shoots for "The Wizard of Oz" in Fleming's absence. From that moment on, progress had gained momentum on the production. Fleming had managed to halt filming, in order to work with Selznick and Ben Hecht to revise and complete the script, which eventually resulted in restoring Sidney Howard's original script at the behest of both Fleming and Hecht. Not only did he worked closely with Selznick and the crew, but also with the actors. Despite his reputation as a "man's director", due to his robust attitude and love of outdoor sports, he was also proven an effective director of women. Due to the sheer giant magnitude of the film and his tireless commitment to complete both the film, Fleming collapsed from exhaustion and was temporarily excused from production in order for him to fully recover. In his absence, Sam Wood, a veteran MGM director, stepped in to complete principal photography. Fleming eventually recovered and returned back to work to oversee the editing and post-production work of the film. As of the end of principal photography, Cukor had undertaken eighteen days of filming, Fleming ninety-three, and Wood twenty-four.
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.
"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.
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 main poster artwork for the 70mm re-release in 1967 was drawn by Italian artist Silvano Campeggi who passed away in late August 2018, aged 95. This artwork has been used in marketing the movie in every release format to this day.
The big problem faced with the fire scene was how to keep the flames going for more than 40 minutes in order to get the required shots. This was solved by devising a double network of pipes to run behind the the false fronts, one to carry a mixture of kerosene and coal tar the other one water. Elaborate rehearsals of camera movements were carried out over 10 days to ensure everything went right. Soon after8pm on 10th December 1938 the first flames were started and with the pipe controls the fires lasted 1 1/2 hours. Stuntman Yakima Canutt doubled for Clark Gable leading the wagon through the flames with Dorothy Fargo standing in as Scarlett. As the fires were started Selznick's brother Myron arrived with some guests one of which was Vivien Leigh.
Mickey Kuhn, who played Beau Wilkes, kept blowing a scene by calling Clark Gable "Clark" instead of "Rhett." Gable eventually took him aside and explained that he was Clark in real life, but on the set his name was Rhett. On the next take, Kuhn got the scene right.
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.
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).
The job of writing the script was given to Sidney Howard who produced the first draft in February 1937, which when broken down worked out to about 5 1/2 hours . By mid 38 a 4th draft was finished with an estimated length of 6 1/4 hours. The problem was that Selznick wanted the length reduced but was against anything already in the script being cut. Selznick and Howard spent months revising each scene countless of times until finally, in October, Howard quit. Selznick took all the material, enough to fill a four draw filing cabinet, with scriptwriter Jo Swerling to Bermuda to try and produce a workable script but 2 months later it was in the same shape as when they started. Meanwhile other work was continuing, the 150 characters in the book had been reduced to 59, a record for any production at the time. With a budget of $154,000 costumier Walter Plunkett had to design and create 5,500 separate items of clothing providing 290 changes for the principle characters plus renting 100's of costumes, checking them for accuracy and attending to their fitting on the 1,000's of extras.
Another reason George Cukor was fired was because he was too much of an intimate director and wouldn't be able to handle the epic scenes that were required but the real reason was that Selznick wanted to control every aspect of the production and all he wanted was a technician who would do as he was told. While Cukor only shot a small part of the film his impact was far reaching because the two leading ladies kept going to him for secret coaching.
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.
It is the first film to be nominated for more than 10 Academy Awards, as it earned 13 nominations in competitive categories. It is also the first film to win more than five Academy Awards, as it won eight competitive Oscars.
Counting write-in nominations, this is the first year that the Best Actress Oscar winner, in this case Vivien Leigh for her role in this film, was up against competitors who were all nominated for performances in Best Picture nominated films.
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.
"Gone with the Wind" was pulled from the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee on August 11, 2017 after a screening, due to the controversy with the portrayal of slavery and racism in the movie which was deemed insensitive to people.
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 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.
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.
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 trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Clark Gable was so distressed over the requirement that he cry on film (when Melanie is comforting Rhett after Scarlett's miscarriage) that he almost quit. Olivia de Havilland and director Victor Fleming convinced him to stay.
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 2018). 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.
Rhett was not allowed to say, on film, "Maybe you'll have a miscarriage" right before Scarlett falls down the stairs; the line is changed to "Maybe you'll have an accident," in keeping with the Hollywood content restrictions, the Hays Code, at the time.
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.