Rated G - Running time: 3:42 - Re-released 6/26/98

When faced with the task of reviewing Gone With The Wind, a film that is 60 years old and generally accepted as one of the greatest ever made, I must wonder what I could possibly say about it that would shed any new light. There are thousands of critics who have discussed it already, and everyone knows it's a masterpiece and everyone should see it. Therefore, in lieu of a review I have decided to devote this space to trivia facts and production mistakes involving the film. Enjoy.

(Trivia facts courtesy of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), located at http://us.imdb.com, and Gone With The Wind: Making Of A Legend.)

GWTW had three directors, George Cukor being the first. Victor Fleming, who had just finished The Wizard of Oz, was brought in, and he was replaced by interim director Sam Wood for a few weeks while recovering from exhaustion. Cukor filmed about 33 minutes of footage, 17 of which appear in the first half of the film; the remainder were cut or reshot.

1,400 actresses were interviewed for the part of Scarlett O'Hara. 400 were asked to do readings. Actresses under consideration for the role included Bette Davis, Paulette Goddard, and Katherine Hepburn.

Bette Davis turned down the role of Scarlett, thinking that her co-star would be Errol Flynn, with whom she refused to work.

The first scene to be shot was the burning of Atlanta, filmed on December 10, 1938. What they actually burned were many old sets on the studio backlot, including the "Great Gate" from King Kong (1933). The fire was so intense that the unwarned public of Culver City jammed the telephone lines, thinking MGM was burning down. The roles of Scarlett and Rhett had not yet been cast; this is why "Scarlett" (a stunt player) is seen covering her face as the wagon goes by.

When Scarlett and Melanie are nursing the wounded soldier, their shadows don't match their movements.

Producer 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. Hitchcock 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.

Big Sam saves Scarlett from hooligans outside Atlanta and gets in the buggy with Scarlett. The film cuts to the buggy driving away. Big Sam should be in the buggy, but is not.

Gable did not want to do the film and refused to do a Southern accent. After signing on, he was so distressed over the requirement that he cry on film (during the scene where Melanie is comforting Rhett after Bonnie has died) that he almost quit. Olivia de Havilland convinced him to stay on the film.

Since Gable could not dance, a floating platform was used during the waltz scene to make him and Scarlett appear to glide around the room.

Women's costumes were made complete with petticoats, although they wouldn't have been missed had they not been there.

Melanie's pregnancy spans important Civil War events much farther than nine months apart.

In rehearsal for the scene where Scarlett slaps Prissy (Butterfly McQueen), she hit her so hard that McQueen refused to scream properly unless Leigh did a fake slap that would not make contact. McQueen also refused to eat watermelon in the film.

The black actors in GWTW were criticized by much of the African-American community for portraying slaves as being docile and friendly with their masters. Selznick, keenly aware of the plight of Jews in Europe at the time, was sympathetic to his black actors and removed much demeaning and offensive material from the script, including the "n" word.

The script was constantly under revision during most of the production period. At one point, the entire script was thrown out, and production was shut down for 17 days while it was rewritten. The sets stood empty at a holding cost of $10,000 per day.

After Ashley Wilkes is carried into his room, Melanie picks up a lamp which has an electric cord attached. Similarly, when trying to find Doc Meade, Scarlett runs past a lamp post containing an electric bulb.

In the scene where Scarlett digs up a turnip, then retches and gives her "As God is my witness" speech, the vomiting sounds were actually made by de Havilland since Leigh could not produce a convincing enough retch.

In the scene where 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.

Leigh worked for 125 days and received about $25,000. Gable worked for 71 days and received over $120,000.

GWTW swept the 1940 Academy Awards, being nominated for 15 Oscars and winning 10. If not for GWTW, The Wizard Of Oz would surely have won more Oscars than two, for best music and best song.

If you are wondering whether to spend the money on a ticket to see a film that you've seen on TV a hundred times, don't hesitate: go. The big screen experience is vastly different from watching it in your living room, and you may not get too many more chances to see it as it was originally intended to be seen. Also, as with many re-releases, the studios have used state-of-the-art technology to enhance the colors and digitally remaster the sound. So plan a party around it. Get some friends, take this list with you if you like, and eat popcorn for dinner. Treat yourself to one of the greatest cinematic experiences ever created. *****
Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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