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Gone With the Whinny!


georgiegirl
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It will do me no good to ask you to answer my question here because I never know if I can get on TCM's home page, never mind directly come here to check, so if you don't mind going to this link, if you can answer this question, I'll be most appreciative of your time and thoughfulness.

 

http://fan.tcm.com/_Horse-dropping-Gone-with-the-Whinny/blog/486845/66470.html

 

Of all the moments in "Gone With The Wind" I could choose to comment on; the beautiful photography, the historical accuracy, the annoying phony backdrop shots, Gable's bad breath, the burning King Kong gate, or the actors/characters and directors themselves, I have a question that has disturbed me for many years and have never been able to find the answer. How did they do the scene where Scarlett's horse just drops dead away? Was it trick photography, a dummy, or a horse that was sacrificed for the movie and possibly injured in the scene? Although I doubt the latter, considering animal rights in movies had been implemented by this time; I think, but as a horse lover that scene has always made me scratch my head. So, does anyone know how the scene was done? :-)

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If this posts, I am thrice blessed tonight by the TCM gods! lol :-)

 

Scott-Ha! lol

 

Ham-After reading that article, yeah, I'm beginning to think they sacrificed the horse. It could have been one ready for the glue factory, but still! Ack! I hope someone can answer that question so I can watch GWTW again and not think ill of the people in charge, and the cast who allowed that to happen. Makes them less human in my eyes, especially Gable who loved horse, yet he did hunt, so.. But then again, I also have to remember how they treated kids on the sets earlier. Maybe killing a horse wasn't such a bad thing to the 'stars' and the studios back then, but...

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As some of you on this board know, I am a long time horse owner. And I do enjoy seeing horses in film and often wonder "how it's done" knowing horse's average capabilities.

According to several books I've read about GWTW, the horse was made to look sick & bony with make-up. I don't buy it. Back in those days no one would bother making prostetic hip bones and ribs for a horse to look emaciated. There's enough old or sick horses out there they could use.

 

Now realize just like dogs or people, a horse can become emaciated when old & infirm. I knew an old show jumper that looked like a bag of bones and was impossible to keep weight on him. He was arthritic and had ulcers and "putting him out to pasture" was not a kind thing, he deserved to rest in peace if you know what I mean.

 

I suspect they used a truly bony old horse for those scenes and administered a sedative for him to drop so violently like that. My horse has had operations and I'll never get used to seeing a horse drop under sedation. In fact, an assistant (me) must hold the horse's head in a sling to make sure it's not injured as he goes down.

They may have just euthenized the horse for the movie.

 

I also suspect earlier scenes of the horse where Rhett coveres his face with the shawl is a completely different horse. Us "horsie people" call it "The Amazing Changing Horse Syndrome in Film".

 

What I like about GWTW is all the mule teams. Mules were common in the south back then, but pretty rare these days, who wants to be seen riding a mule?

I especially like when Scarlett is hiding the wagon under the bridge and the horse whinnys and she puts her hand over his nose. You can't make a horse whinny on command, it was just a lucky accident.

What I hate is seeing so many "fancy" horses with broken tails, like Ashley's when he's called to war early on in the film. Like docking dog's tails, breaking and setting a horse's tail was fashionable for some odd reason. Thank goodness it's outlawed today, but sad to see it as late as 1939.

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TikiSoo-Lucky you, horse owner!

 

I find it hard to believe they killed that horse, but I guess so. What I find really odd is, no one affiliated with the movie ever wrote about it in their memoirs, and since that time no one ever asked someone in, or around during the shooting of the movie that question? Not even a biographer of the movie or its stars? Don't you find that odd? There must be someone still alive who can tell us. lol

 

Really, a sedated horse has to drop? Why can't you have it lie down before giving it the sedative? Or put it in a body sling then lower it once the horse is out?

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I watched that scene during this last showing to see if I could tell how they got the horse to fall on cue. It seemed to me that it is possible the wagon and horse were on a built-up stage or platform that was covered with dirt, and it looked to me like they might have dropped a kind of trap door under the horse that made the horse fall straight downward about two feet, which made it seem the horse was falling down because of a collapse of his legs.

 

I wish I had recorded it so I could study the scene.

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> {quote:title=georgiegirl wrote:}{quote}

> Really, a sedated horse has to drop? Why can't you have it lie down before giving it the sedative? Or put it in a body sling then lower it once the horse is out?

 

Um, shipping to a hospital (with belly sling) isn't always an option, some operations (like neutering) take place right in the barn with just a local anesthetic. A trick horse may lie down on command, it's very hard to teach but very easy to induce with drugs.

 

You can give horses all degrees of sedatives; some just calm them and make their head droop, some knock them out so their legs wobble, then they lie down gently. Some drop violently. You never can predict 100% what will happen.

 

I saw GWTW on the big screen (front row!) & that shot is dark and very difficult to discern. My guess is they used an old horse and euthenized him. Or if that makes you squimish, they just knocked him out with drugs for the scene and he lived happily ever after in Selznick's pasture.

 

Hey, anything's better than the cruelty of "tripping" running horses for battle scenes before that practice was outlawed. Many horses were injured in that process and then killed.

 

By the time Marnie was made, animals were better protected. That horse was injured only by editing.

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Trained horse. Couldn't kill him. Possibility of too many retakes. ASPCA was very watchful after THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE. Animal handlers were big business in Hollywood back then and horses were required to do many, many tricks and stunts - including dying. Over and over.

 

One might also ask this question of Mel Brooks!!

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> I watched that scene during this last showing to see if I could tell how they got the horse to fall on cue. It seemed to me that it is possible the wagon and horse were on a built-up stage or platform that was covered with dirt, and it looked to me like they might have dropped a kind of trap door under the horse that made the horse fall straight downward about two feet, which made it seem the horse was falling down because of a collapse of his legs.

>

> I wish I had recorded it so I could study the scene.

 

More likely (and cheaply), they probably just put a thin mattress under Rhett's stolen old "nag" and used ropes to pull his/her legs out from under him/her.

 

Though the equine carnage from second-unit director B. Reeves Eason's use of the cruel "running W" horse-trip wire in 1936's THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRGADE resulted in an outcry that led to the banning of the device and ascendancy of ASPCA supervision on film sets, that oversight was, and still is, far from air-tight. Producers and studios honored it when it was convenient, and ignored it the rest of the time, and that probably goes for Selznick and GONE WITH THE WIND, too.

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Wow, TikiSoo, thanks, and I would think you'd be afraid of it breaking a leg on the way down.

 

Doesn't anyone find it odd no one has spoken of this scene? I do. I I think it's an important scene in the movie, but nada. Nothing on it anywhere I've searched. I find that strange. Maybe I'm making too big a deal of it, but when something makes me scratch my head, I scratch my head. lol :-)

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> {quote:title=CineSage_jr wrote:}{quote}

> 1936's THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRGADE resulted in an outcry that led to the banning of the device and ascendancy of ASPCA supervision on film sets, that oversight was, and still is, far from air-tight. Producers and studios honored it when it was convenient, and ignored it the rest of the time, and that probably goes for Selznick and GONE WITH THE WIND, too.

 

I agree with that. These days it's pretty much accepted that animals have "rights". But even growing up in the 60's, my parents had the attitude animals were "disposable". I'd assume to a big movie director in the 30's & 40's, a horse was just another prop.

 

If a crew member showed any concern over how an animal was being treated I'm sure it was soothed by a pat on the head and, "it's trained to do that, he's just sleeping" sort of condescending attitude. This is most likely why there's nothing written, no one really knew.

 

Rest assured, nowadays all animals on the set are treated as well as any other actor, sometimes better!

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Hollywood- Geez, Louise, they'll tell-all on the 'stars' but not about a horse. lol

 

TikiSoo-I think we grew up about the same time. I agree, attitudes toward animals have changed, but only to some degree. I find that folks who were raised on farms, or at least in the burbs of yesteryear, have a very different take on animals to this day. An online friend of mine from Oklahoma, who was born and raised there, she and her husband have no qualms about shooting strays, whether it be dogs, cats, coyotes and cougars. I get so upset when she tells me they just killed one or the other. And these are educated and well- to -do folks, and they have cats and dogs they love, so, go figure.

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> {quote:title=georgiegirl wrote:}{quote}An online friend of mine from Oklahoma, who was born and raised there, she and her husband have no qualms about shooting strays, whether it be dogs, cats, coyotes and cougars.

 

I dunno; even in Oklahoma, the shooting of middle-aged women on the prowl for younger men is apt to raise an eyebrow.

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*An online friend of mine from Oklahoma, who was born and raised there, she and her husband have no qualms about shooting strays, whether it be dogs, cats, coyotes and cougars. I get so upset when she tells me they just killed one or the other. And these are educated and well- to -do folks, and they have cats and dogs they love, so, go figure.*

 

Feral dogs and cats can be just as dangerous as coyotes and cougars. Coyotes and cougars will come out of the hills looking for food and prey on smaller animals, usually house pets like domesticated cats and dogs. If you have a farm or ranch, they will prey upon chickens, hens, roosters, etc.

 

Feral dogs and cats often carry diseases and should they get into a fight with a domesticated pet can spread those diseases by scratching and biting. Same goes if they bite a child or a parent.

 

It's not that uncommon here in Southern California and I would imagine with Oklahoma not being so densely populated, that people there often take care of the problem themselves rather than calling the authorities.

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> I dunno; even in Oklahoma, the shooting of middle-aged women on the prowl for younger men is apt to raise an eyebrow.

 

Hahahahahhahaha! Good one! lol

 

Izcutter-I know with my friend, they don't have animal control in their community, it is very rural, and I understand where these animals can be a danger to your household pets, but it still makes me sad to think these kinds of things happen. Thank God I was born in NYC where guns are used only on people. lol Just kidding! :-)

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Never happened. GWTW is not listed as having any injuries or deaths of animals during its filming. Also, the hoopla over cruelty to animals in films was not over Charge of the Light Brigade, but Jesse James. After the horse death while filming was publicized, the major studies met with the American Humane Association and new laws were enacted.

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See, that's the thing, no one really knows the whole story for sure. It's possible not every thing the studios did got documented, for a variety of reasons, so... I know I'm beating this subject like a dead horse, but I'm still scratching my head over this whole horse thing. Maybe that biographer Bret can dig up the answer. Ha! lol:-)

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> {quote:title=chandler5710 wrote:}{quote}

> Never happened. GWTW is not listed as having any injuries or deaths of animals during its filming. Also, the hoopla over cruelty to animals in films was not over Charge of the Light Brigade, but Jesse James. After the horse death while filming was publicized, the major studies met with the American Humane Association and new laws were enacted.

 

Sorry, but it was THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, in which second-unit director B. Reeves Eason's brutal get-the-shot-at-any-cost methods killed a reported hundred horses, a rumored 250 (and, according to David Niven's autobiography, The Moon's a Balloon, at least one costumed extra cavalryman). Carnage on such an epic scale was impossible for the ASPCA and the press to ignore, and for Warner Bros., and all the studios to whitewash.

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I never said the incident in Charge didn't happen - it did, and 200 horses were killed - but the incident that caused the studios to meet with the AHA was the death of the horse during the Jesse James filming, not Charge of the Light Brigade.

 

"...according to American Western Magazine. In a 1940 Jesse James film, one horse was ridden over a 70-foot cliff into white water rapids. Only the stuntman survived.

 

The incident spawned oversight by the American Humane Association, and injuries decreased, according to the AHA."

 

Message was edited by: chandler5710

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But, as you say, it was just one horse (which director Henry King filmed simultaneously from two separate and distinct angles so that, at a distance, the same fall could be used for both Jesse's and Frank James's dives into the river (which was, in fact, fairly calm, and nothing remotely like white water).

 

I seriously doubt that the fate of one horse would've pushed the issue over the edge; if the 100 (or 200, or 250) on CHARGE wouldn't do it, then nothing would.

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Well, I'm just going on the information that's out there, and the American Humane Association says they became involved because of Jesse James. Since the AHA didn't start overseeing until 1939-1940 (Jesse James was filmed in 1936) and Charge was in 1936, it seems like it was Jesse James. Charge was not the first time 200 horses were killed in film, either - that happened going back to the original Ben Hur.

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