Bright Side

13 Facts About “Gone With the Wind” Where Passions Were Running as High On Set as in the Story

Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone With the Wind still remains to be an important literary legacy for many. The screen version released in the very distant 1939 became no less cult than the book itself. But few of us know what hindrances it had while being produced and what passions were whirling around behind the scenes.

Bright Side author has gladly re-watched this movie and decided to unveil the sinuous story of its creation with you.

  • Scriptwriters had a very difficult task — to fit Mitchell’s huge novel into a movie with acceptable timing. The original script was designed for 6 hours of screen time. Having realized that, apart from timing, the script has many other issues, the creative team locked themselves in a room to refine it. Thinking that eating slowed down the creative process, the producer David O. Selznick limited himself and his colleagues when it came to food. On the fifth day, he passed out from exhaustion while eating a banana. On the sixth day, one of the directors, Victor Fleming, had a vessel burst in his eye.
  • The events during the writing of the script for Gone with the Wind were so exciting that they became the basis for a separate play called Moonlight and Magnolias.
  • Overall, there were 15 people who worked on the script for the movie. One of them was the famous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • Not less than 1,400 actresses were auditioned for the role of Scarlett, and Vivien Leigh was not the main candidate. Moreover, they started to shoot the movie before the decision about who was going to play the main character was made. Rumors say that Leigh was brought to the director while shooting the scene where Atlanta was burning and introduced as the future Scarlett O’Hara. The director instantly saw the character of Mitchell’s book in her and invited Vivien to audition right away.
  • It seemed that Vivien had gotten the cherished role, but no. She may have been fired twice. And both times were connected with the fact that Vivien is a British actress. Her accent confused the director and her belonging to a different country annoyed viewers who wanted to see “a quintessential Southern belle” in the role of Scarlett, as required by the canon.
  • The actor Gary Cooper who turned down the role of Rhett Butler didn’t believe in the success of this movie at all. He once said, “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 me.
  • When Fleming became the movie director instead of Cukor, Vivien Leigh didn’t like it. She would demonstratively bring Mitchell’s book to the set to show the director that his creative decisions could in no way be compared with the original. Finally, according to Leigh, the movie director even told her to “throw it away.”
  • Leslie Howard, the actor who played Ashley Wilkes, wasn’t happy about his role either. That’s what he wrote to his daughter, “I hate the part. I’m not nearly beautiful or young enough to play Ashley, and it makes me sick being fixed up to look attractive.
  • Clark Gable was annoyed by the fact his character was going to be shown crying on camera. He even threatened to refuse to shoot if they continued forcing him to do it.
  • The scale of filming exceeded the capabilities of that time. The scene with the wounded soldiers required 2,500 extras. However, the Screen Actors Guild’s reserve was limited. The director had to use about 1,000 mannequins to make everything look impressive enough.
  • Vivien Leigh hated kissing scenes with Gable because of his bad breath, rumored to be caused by his issues with false teeth due to smoking. But Clark knew this and would tease her, especially when sometimes, before another take with Vivien, he would eat dishes with a lot of garlic.
  • If box-office calculations were adjusted for inflation, Gone With the Wind would become the top-grossing movie of all-time. Its box office would be more than $4 billion by the year 2012.
  • The movie was nominated for an Oscar in 13 categories and won 8 of them.

Do you like the screen version of Margaret Mitchell’s book? Is there a certain part that you like to watch over and over?

Preview photo credit Gone with the Wind / MGM
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