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Gone With the Wind- The fruit of Selznick's effort
Gone With the Wind
The most successful film in the box-office history is considered to be 'Gone With the Wind'! At the 12th Academy Awards ten Awards were really 'gone with the wind'! Not only that, in the list of Top 100 American Films(by American Film Institute) it was one of the top ten in 1998! It has been selected to preserve in the National Film Registry of United States. For a quarter of the twentieth century, it remained the most popular and the highest-earning film.
In 1936 Margarett Mitchell's novel 'Gone With the Wind' was published. Later it was adopted to a film in 1939. 'Gone With the Wind' is an epic-historical romance film based on the American Civil War and Reconstruction era. The story is about Scarlett O'Hara, the daughter of a Georgia plantation owner. The screenplay was done by Sidney Howard. The original director George Cukor was replaced by Victor Fleming who was in turn briefly replaced by Sam Wood. The producer of the film was David.O.Selznick.
To get Clark Gable
Producing the film was not easy for Selzinck. His determination to have Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and 'search for Scarlett' delayed the production for two years. Clark Gable was under contract to MGM. Selzinck made a deal with MGM, to pay the weekly salary of Gable and half the profit of the film to MGM. And also that the Loew's, Inc(the parent company of MGM) would release the film. The offer from MGM was made in August 1938. The arrangements to release through MGM delayed the start until the last of 1938.
William Clark Gable was the American ideal for masculinity and virility for decades. Being enormously popular at his time Gable was titled 'the King of Hollywood'! He got attention of the public by is aggressive masculine performances in 'A Free Soul' and 'Night Nurse'. His most successful films done for MGM include 'Dancing Lady','Red Dust', 'Hold Your Man', ' Men in White' and 'Strange Interlude'. His magnetic smiles and playful winks charmed his characters.
When Selzinck introduced the role of Rhett Butler, Gable had thought the film won't be accepted by the public as it would not reach the expectations that the best seller novel would have created. But the constant public demand forced him to reconsider the film. And it brought him the chance to be most remembered as Rhett Butler and be nominated for Academy Award.
To choose Vivien Leigh
While the time the production of the film was delayed, Selznick used the time to find out the actress for Scarlett. He gave publicity to the search by a nationwide casting call that interviewed 1400 new faces. The money spend for the casting was in vain. But it gave priceless publicity for the film. In total, 31 women were screen tested for the role of Scarlett including Ardis Ankerson, Jean Arthur, Tallulah Bankhead, Diana Barrymore, Joan Bennett, Nancy Coleman, Frances Dee, Ellen Drew, Anita Louise, Margaret Thallichet, Lana Turner, Linda Watkins, Susan Hayward and Vivien Leigh. Miriam Hopkins was the actress whom Margaret Mitchel felt appropriate for the character she had thought while writing the novel. But she was in her mid-thirties and was considered too old for the role. However, Paulette Goddard and Vivien Leigh became the two finalists and were tested in Technicolor. Goddard almost won the role. But controversy over her marriage with Charlie Chaplin caused Selznick to change his mind. Thus, Vivien Leigh a young English actress was chosen for the role of Scarlett. She gave life to Mitchell's character in very natural way that later she was said to be most suited for the role! Her stage presence and beauty were stunning to be praised by the reviewers.
The film had been criticised for being repeating history and promoting slavery. But, praise was also accompanied for the new way it portraited African-Americans. The film was enormously popular that it was rereleased several times in the 20th century. It briefly conveys that there won't be an American who wouldn't have seen the film! Its regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. The chemistry between Gable and Vivien Leigh worked out lively and so natural.
'Gone With the Wind' bagged ten Academy Awards(Eight competitive & Two honorary). Clark Gable was nominated for Best Actor. The film had set record for the total number of Academy Awards at that point of time.
12th Academy Awards
Academy Award Category
Selznick International Pictures
Best Art Director
Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography, Color
Ernest Haller, Ray Rennahan
Best Film Editing
Hal C.Kern ,James E. Newcom
Best Adapted Screenplay