Gone with the Wind

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Gone with the Wind is a 1939 American epic historical romance film adapted from the 1936 novel by Margaret Mitchell.

The film was produced by David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures and directed by Victor Fleming. Set in the American South against the backdrop of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era, the film tells the story of Scarlett O'Hara, the strong-willed daughter of a Georgia plantation owner. It follows her romantic pursuit of Ashley Wilkes, who is married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, and her subsequent marriage to Rhett Butler. The leading roles are played by Vivien Leigh (Scarlett), Clark Gable (Rhett), Leslie Howard (Ashley), and Olivia de Havilland (Melanie).

Production was difficult from the start. Filming was delayed for two years because of Selznick's determination to secure Gable for the role of Rhett Butler, and the "search for Scarlett" led to 1,400 women being interviewed for the part. The original screenplay was written by Sidney Howard and underwent many revisions by several writers in an attempt to reduce it to a suitable length. The original director, George Cukor, was fired shortly after filming began and was replaced by Fleming, who in turn was briefly replaced by Sam Wood while Fleming took some time off due to exhaustion.

The film received positive reviews upon its release in December 1939, although some reviewers found it to be too long. The casting was widely praised, and many reviewers found Leigh especially suited to her role as Scarlett. At the 12th Academy Awards, it received ten Academy Awards (eight competitive, two honorary) from thirteen nominations, including wins for Best Picture, Best Director (Fleming), Best Adapted Screenplay (posthumously awarded to Sidney Howard), Best Actress (Leigh), and Best Supporting Actress (Hattie McDaniel, becoming the first African American to win an Academy Award). It set records for the total number of wins and nominations at the time.

Gone with the Wind was immensely popular when first released. It became the highest-earning film made up to that point, and held the record for over a quarter of a century. When adjusted for monetary inflation, it is still the highest-grossing film in history. It was re-released periodically throughout the 20th century and became ingrained in popular culture. Although the film has been criticized as historical revisionism glorifying slavery, it has been credited with triggering changes in the way in which African Americans are depicted cinematically. The film is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time; it has placed in the top ten of the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 American films since the list's inception in 1998. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Plot

In 1861, on the eve of the American Civil War, Scarlett O'Hara lives at Tara, her family's cotton plantation in Georgia, with her parents and two sisters and their many slaves. Scarlett learns that Ashley Wilkes, whom she secretly loves, is to be married to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, and the engagement is to be announced the next day at a barbecue at Ashley's home, the nearby plantation Twelve Oaks. At the Twelve Oaks party, Scarlett makes an advance on Ashley but is rebuffed; instead, she catches the attention of another guest, Rhett Butler. The barbecue is disrupted by news of the declaration of war, and the men rush to enlist. In a bid to arouse jealousy in Ashley, Scarlett marries Melanie's younger brother Charles before he leaves to fight. Following Charles's death while serving in the Confederate States Army, Scarlett's mother sends her to the Hamilton home in Atlanta, where she creates a scene by attending a charity bazaar in her mourning attire and waltzing with Rhett, now a blockade runner for the Confederacy.

The tide of war turns against the Confederacy after the Battle of Gettysburg, in which many of the men of Scarlett's town are killed. Eight months later, as the city is besieged by the Union Army in the Atlanta Campaign, Melanie gives birth with Scarlett's aid, and Rhett helps them flee the city. Once out of the city, Rhett chooses to go off to fight, leaving Scarlett to make her own way back to Tara. Upon her return home, Scarlett finds Tara deserted, except for her father, her sisters, and former slaves Mammy and Pork. Scarlett learns that her mother has just died of typhoid fever and her father has become senile. With Tara pillaged by Union troops and the fields untended, Scarlett vows she will do anything for the survival of her family and herself.

As the O'Haras work in the cotton fields, Scarlett's father attempts to chase away a carpetbagger from his land but is thrown from his horse and killed. With the defeat of the Confederacy, Ashley also returns but finds he is of little help at Tara. When Scarlett begs him to run away with her, he confesses his desire for her and kisses her passionately, but says he cannot leave Melanie. Unable to pay the Reconstructionist taxes imposed on Tara, Scarlett dupes her younger sister Suellen's fiancé, the middle-aged and wealthy general store owner Frank Kennedy, into marrying her, by saying Suellen got tired of waiting and married another suitor. Frank, Ashley, Rhett, and several other accomplices make a night raid on a shanty town after Scarlett is attacked while driving through it alone, resulting in Frank's death. With Frank's funeral barely over, Rhett proposes to Scarlett and she accepts.

Rhett and Scarlett have a daughter whom Rhett names Bonnie Blue, but Scarlett, still pining for Ashley and chagrined at the perceived ruin of her figure, lets Rhett know that she wants no more children and that they will no longer share a bed. One day at Frank's mill, Scarlett and Ashley are seen embracing by Ashley's sister, India, and harboring an intense dislike of Scarlett she eagerly spreads rumors. Later that evening, Rhett, having heard the rumors, forces Scarlett to attend a birthday party for Ashley. Melanie, however, stands by Scarlett. After returning home from the party, Scarlett finds Rhett downstairs drunk, and they argue about Ashley. Rhett kisses Scarlett against her will, stating his intent to have sex with her that night, and carries the struggling Scarlett to the bedroom.

The next day, Rhett apologizes for his behavior and offers Scarlett a divorce, which she rejects, saying that it would be a disgrace. When Rhett returns from an extended trip to London, Scarlett informs him that she is pregnant, but an argument ensues which results in her falling down a flight of stairs and suffering a miscarriage. As she is recovering, tragedy strikes when Bonnie dies while attempting to jump a fence with her pony. Scarlett and Rhett visit Melanie, who has suffered complications arising from a new pregnancy, on her deathbed. As Scarlett consoles Ashley, Rhett prepares to leave Atlanta. Having realized that it was him she truly loved all along, and not Ashley, Scarlett pleads with Rhett to stay, but Rhett rebuffs her and walks away into the morning fog, leaving her in tears on the staircase. A distraught Scarlett resolves to return home to Tara, believing that one day she will get Rhett back.

Cast

Tara plantation

  • Thomas Mitchell as Gerald O'Hara
  • Barbara O'Neil as Ellen O'Hara (his wife)
  • Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara (daughter)
  • Evelyn Keyes as Suellen O'Hara (daughter)
  • Ann Rutherford as Carreen O'Hara (daughter)
  • George Reeves as Brent Tarleton (actually as Stuart)
  • Fred Crane as Stuart Tarleton (actually as Brent)
  • Hattie McDaniel as Mammy (house servant)
  • Oscar Polk as Pork (house servant)
  • Butterfly McQueen as Prissy (house servant)
  • Victor Jory as Jonas Wilkerson (field overseer)
  • Everett Brown as Big Sam (field foreman)

At Twelve Oaks

  • Howard Hickman as John Wilkes
  • Alicia Rhett as India Wilkes (his daughter)
  • Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes (his son)
  • Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Hamilton (their cousin)
  • Rand Brooks as Charles Hamilton (Melanie's brother)
  • Carroll Nye as Frank Kennedy (a guest)
  • Clark Gable as Rhett Butler (a visitor from Charleston)

In Atlanta

  • Laura Hope Crews as Aunt Pittypat Hamilton
  • Eddie Anderson as Uncle Peter (her coachman)
  • Harry Davenport as Dr. Meade
  • Leona Roberts as Mrs. Meade
  • Jane Darwell as Mrs. Merriwether
  • Ona Munson as Belle Watling

Minor supporting roles

  • Paul Hurst as the Yankee deserter
  • Cammie King as Bonnie Blue Butler
  • J. M. Kerrigan as Johnny Gallagher
  • Jackie Moran as Phil Meade
  • Lillian Kemble-Cooper as Bonnie's nurse in London
  • Marcella Martin as Cathleen Calvert
  • Mickey Kuhn as Beau Wilkes
  • Irving Bacon as the Corporal
  • William Bakewell as the mounted officer
  • Isabel Jewell as Emmy Slattery
  • Eric Linden as the amputation case
  • Ward Bond as Tom, the Yankee captain
  • Cliff Edwards as the reminiscent soldier
  • Yakima Canutt as the renegade
  • Louis Jean Heydt as the hungry soldier holding Beau Wilkes
  • Olin Howland as the carpetbagger businessman
  • Robert Elliott as the Yankee major
  • Mary Anderson as Maybelle Merriwether

Following the death of Olivia de Havilland—who played Melanie Hamilton—in July 2020 at the age of 104, the only surviving credited cast member from the film is Mickey Kuhn, who played Ashley and Melanie's son, Beau.

Production

Before publication of the novel, several Hollywood executives and studios declined to create a film based on it, including Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Pandro Berman at RKO Pictures, and David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures. Jack L. Warner of Warner Bros liked the story, but his biggest star Bette Davis was not interested, and Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century-Fox had not offered enough money. However, Selznick changed his mind after his story editor Kay Brown and business partner John Hay Whitney urged him to buy the film rights. In July 1936—a month after it was published—Selznick bought the rights for $50,000.

Casting

The casting of the two lead roles became a complex, two-year endeavor. For the role of Rhett Butler, Selznick wanted Clark Gable from the start, but Gable was under contract to MGM, which never loaned him to other studios. Gary Cooper was considered, but Samuel Goldwyn—to whom Cooper was under contract—refused to loan him out. Warner offered a package of Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland for lead roles in return for the distribution rights. By this time, Selznick was determined to get Gable and in August 1938 he eventually struck a deal with his father-in-law, MGM chief Louis B. Mayer: MGM would provide Gable and $1,250,000 for half of the film's budget, and in return, Selznick would have to pay Gable's weekly salary; half the profits would go to MGM while Loew's, Inc—MGM's parent company—would release the film.

The arrangement to release through MGM meant delaying the start of production until the end of 1938, when Selznick's distribution deal with United Artists concluded. Selznick used the delay to continue to revise the script and, more importantly, build publicity for the film by searching for the role of Scarlett. Selznick began a nationwide casting call that interviewed 1,400 unknowns. The effort cost $100,000 and proved useless for the main objective of casting the role, but created "priceless" publicity. Early frontrunners included Miriam Hopkins and Tallulah Bankhead, who were regarded as possibilities by Selznick prior to the purchase of the film rights; Joan Crawford, who was signed to MGM, was also considered as a potential pairing with Gable. After a deal was struck with MGM, Selznick held discussions with Norma Shearer—who was MGM's top female star at the time—but she withdrew herself from consideration. Katharine Hepburn lobbied hard for the role with the support of her friend, George Cukor, who had been hired to direct, but she was vetoed by Selznick who felt she was not right for the part.

Many famous—or soon-to-be-famous—actresses were considered, but only thirty-one women were actually screen-tested for Scarlett including Ardis Ankerson, Jean Arthur, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Barrymore, Joan Bennett, Nancy Coleman, Frances Dee, Ellen Drew (as Terry Ray), Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward (under her real name of Edythe Marrenner), Vivien Leigh, Anita Louise, Haila Stoddard, Margaret Tallichet, Lana Turner and Linda Watkins. Although Margaret Mitchell refused to publicly name her choice, the actress who came closest to winning her approval was Miriam Hopkins, who Mitchell felt was just the right type of actress to play Scarlett as written in the book. However, Hopkins was in her mid-thirties at the time and was considered too old for the part. Four actresses, including Jean Arthur and Joan Bennett, were still under consideration by December 1938; however, only two finalists, Paulette Goddard and Vivien Leigh, were tested in Technicolor, both on December 20. Goddard almost won the role, but controversy over her marriage with Charlie Chaplin caused Selznick to change his mind.

Selznick had been quietly considering Vivien Leigh, a young English actress who was still little known in America, for the role of Scarlett since February 1938 when Selznick saw her in Fire Over England and A Yank at Oxford. Leigh's American agent was the London representative of the Myron Selznick talent agency (headed by David Selznick's brother, one of the owners of Selznick International), and she had requested in February that her name be submitted for consideration as Scarlett. By the summer of 1938 the Selznicks were negotiating with Alexander Korda, to whom Leigh was under contract, for her services later that year. Selznick's brother arranged for them to meet for the first time on the night of December 10, 1938, when the burning of Atlanta was filmed. In a letter to his wife two days later, Selznick admitted that Leigh was "the Scarlett dark horse", and after a series of screen tests, her casting was announced on January 13, 1939. Just before the shooting of the film, Selznick informed newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan: "Scarlett O'Hara's parents were French and Irish. Identically, Miss Leigh's parents are French and Irish."

A pressing issue for Selznick throughout casting was Hollywood's persistent failure to accurately portray Southern accents. The studio believed that if the accent was not accurately depicted it could prove detrimental to the film's success. Selznick hired Susan Myrick (an expert on Southern speech, manners and customs recommended to him by Mitchell) and Will A. Price to coach the actors on speaking with a Southern drawl. Mitchell was complimentary about the vocal work of the cast, noting the lack of criticism when the film came out.

Related events

NameDateLanguages
1
The novel "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction03.05.1937en, pl

Sources: wikipedia.org

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    Persons

    Name Born / Since / At Died Languages
    1Diana  BarrymoreDiana Barrymore03.03.192125.01.1960de, en, fr, ru
    2Lana  TurnerLana Turner08.02.192129.06.1995de, en, fr, pl, ru, ua
    3Ann RutherfordAnn Rutherford02.11.191711.06.2012de, en, fr, pl, ru
    4Susan  HaywardSusan Hayward30.06.191714.03.1975de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru, ua
    5Evelyn KeyesEvelyn Keyes20.11.191604.07.2008de, en, fr, pl, ru
    6Ellen DrewEllen Drew23.11.191503.12.2003de, en, fr, pl, ru
    7Alicia RhettAlicia Rhett01.02.191503.01.2014de, en, pl, ru
    8Haila StoddardHaila Stoddard19.11.191321.02.2011en
    9Vivien LeighVivien Leigh05.11.191308.07.1967de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    10Barbara O'NeilBarbara O'Neil17.07.191003.09.1980de, en, fr, pl, ru, ua
    11Paulette GoddardPaulette Goddard03.06.191023.04.1990de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    12Joan BennettJoan Bennett27.02.191007.12.1990de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    13Errol FlynnErrol Flynn20.06.190914.10.1959de, en, fr, lt, lv, pl, ru
    14Katharine  HepburnKatharine Hepburn12.05.190729.06.2003de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    15Norma ShearerNorma Shearer10.08.190212.06.1983de, en, fr, pl, ru
    16Tallulah  BankheadTallulah Bankhead31.01.190212.12.1968de, en, fr, pl, ru
    17Gary CooperGary Cooper07.05.190113.05.1961de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    18Clark  GableClark Gable01.02.190116.11.1960de, en, fr, lv, pl, ru
    19Jean ArthurJean Arthur17.10.190019.06.1991en
    20Thomas MitchellThomas Mitchell11.07.189217.12.1962de, en, fr, pl, ru, ua
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