Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

The Making of "Gone With the Wind" Documentary (1989)


speedracer5
 Share

Recommended Posts

Last night, I watched the "Making of Gone With the Wind" documentary. The documentary was from 1989, which didn't really matter as all the behind the scenes and recollections from those involved would be the same. The only information which would be different would be the figures that are thrown out comparing 1939's numbers to "today's."

 

Anyway... I will have to throw this out here right now: I have never seen Gone With the Wind. I'm waiting for a spectacularly crummy day here in Oregon to dedicate the entire afternoon to watching this film and for it not to also be football day, because I have to give football precedence over GWTW.

 

But I digress.

 

While I haven't seen this film, I know much about it, the characters, the famous lines, many of the famous scenes, the final line of the film, etc. I love Max Steiner's beautiful score. It's hard to not learn all those things about a film as old and as famous as GWTW. I really loved this documentary. While some of the animation was cheesy, I found it interesting and very informative.

 

Something I found rather curious was the lack of participation from Olivia de Havilland--the only surviving major cast member of the film since Viven Leigh's death in 1967. They didn't even have any archive interviews from de Havilland or anything. In fact, she was barely mentioned in the documentary at all, except for a mention that she was selected as Melanie and there were a few film clips of her attending the Atlanta premiere. She was also included in some photo stills.

 

Otherwise, this documentary was all about Leigh, Clark Gable and David O. Selznick.

 

To not bore everyone with everything that I learned from this documentary, these are the things that I found most interesting:

 

1) George Cukor was the original director of GWTW. Victor Fleming was the original director of The Wizard of Oz, which was filming at the same time as GWTW. Cukor was fired from GWTW, and Victor was moved off of TWOO to replace Cukor. Cukor replaced Fleming.

 

2) Clark Gable only did GWTW because he was promised a $50k bonus from Louis B. Mayer that would give Gable the money to divorce his current wife and marry Carole Lombard.

 

3) The famous burning of Atlanta scene was filmed before the movie even started officially filming. The GWTW sets were going to be built on the studio's backlot, but it was filled with old sets from previous films like King Kong and The Garden of Allah. The filmmakers decided to kill two birds with one stone and burn the sets down while having them stand in for Atlanta.

 

4) In the scene where Scarlett wears the red gown, Fleming was repeatedly dissatisfied with Leigh's appearance as he wanted her to look like a woman that Clark Gable would be interested in. Finally, he achieved his desired aesthetic by taping Leigh's breasts together to give her cleavage.

 

5) Margaret Mitchell sold the film rights to her novel for $50k and wanted nothing to do with the production afterward.

 

6) Selznick was constantly rewriting the script and never officially completed it, even when the film had completed production.

 

7) Actual Civil War veterans attended the premiere in 1939.

 

8) For the famous battle defeat scene, the filmmakers couldn't get a hold of enough extras to dress as soldiers and create the grand scene of devastation the director wanted. They ended up making dummies to lie next to the extras which had little levers that the extras could move in order to move the dummies' arms. On screen, the dummies with the waving arms would simulate injured soldiers.

 

9) Margaret Mitchell wrote the novel out of boredom when she was home-bound due to a series of injuries.

 

10) Scarlett O'Hara's original name in the first draft of the novel was "Pansy O'Hara," Mitchell's publisher convinced her to change it.

 

While this documentary definitely made me want to make sure to watch the film (I have to see it at least once), I really want to read the book now. I'll probably have to pick up a used copy. I can't check it out at the library (well I can), it's much too long for me to finish even after using up the number of renewals I'm allowed. I need the freedom owning the book would allow.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

speedracer5--Have you ever seen "Parnell" (1937)?  Gable & Myrna Loy are much too modern presences to get away with P's dialogue--Gable especially has to do a Lot of speechgiving.  He didn't get away with it in that film--& "Parnell" (1937) will be showing in Nov.  Judge for yourself.  As for GWTW--the role was a perfect fit for Gable, IMHO.

 

  The rest I knew--I've read GWTW several times, & have seen it 10 times, including the 2003 re-release in theaters--if nothing else, get a CD of Max Steiner's score for GWTW.  That alone gives you an idea of what the film is like.  The film is really excellent--if possible film should be seen on widescreen for maximum emotional impact, the depot scene especially, really the whole film,  You're in for a treat.

 

As for the book--it's excellent & Margaret Mitchell's husband did some of the research for her--I think book about it is still available on Amazon--not 100% certain.   But book is still a relatively quick read (to look at, you'd think it would take months--a week or two is more accurate, at least for me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like the movie and I read the book over 40 years ago. It's come under attack recently in light of the furor over the confederate flag, because it does tell the story of a Southern woman's life before and after the Civil War. So expect to be uncomfortable with some of the dialogue and aspects of life that aren't particularly something to be proud of. Having said that, it's a good story and moves along at a good pace that makes the 4 hour running time go by quickly. Vivien Leigh is really great and I'm always astonished that she carries the film so well. She was, I think, 26 years old and playing maybe one of the most important female roles in film history. It frankly blows me away when I think about it. That's a lot of pressure because the film hinges on a powerful portrayal of Scarlett.

 

Anyway, enjoy it.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After watching all of the proposed Scarlett role audition clips in this documentary the other night, I thought Joan Bennett probably came as close as anybody could at being as good as Leigh would eventually be as the character, and even more so than the front-runner for the part for a time, Paulette Goddard.

 

And while I really like Jean Arthur in roles where she's playing either "one of the guys" or the slightly befuddled type, I almost laughed out loud while watching her audition clip and wondered who could have possibly thought that she would have been at all well cast for the role of the sexy vixen Scarlett.

 

(...I mean Jean was cute and all, but REALLY?...SCARLETT???...this was somebody's idea of a joke, RIGHT?!)

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After watching all of the proposed Scarlett role audition clips in this documentary the other night, I thought Joan Bennett probably came as close as anybody could at being as good as Leigh would eventually be as the character, and even more so than the front-runner for the part for a time, Paulette Goddard.

 

And while I really like Jean Arthur in roles where she's playing either "one of the guys" or the slightly befuddled type, I almost laughed out loud while watching her audition clip and wondered who could have possibly thought that she would have been at all well cast for the role of the sexy vixen Scarlett.

 

(...I mean Jean was cute and all, but REALLY?...SCARLETT???...this was somebody's idea of a joke, RIGHT?!)

 

Yeah, the best thing about that documentary (and it's a terrific documentary) is the parade of screen tests made by all the actresses. Personally, were there never a Vivien Leigh to enter the picture, I felt like PAULETTE GODDARD just aced it, there's even a fun scene where she performs the lines for both Scarlett and Mammy and it's pretty funny...

 

Lana Turner was awful; Susan Hayward (as Edith Marriner) was unsteady.

 

Jean Arthur's test was interesting in that she appears to be wearing an off-the-rack strapless sun dress with shawl- not authentic costuming in the least- and I think he hair is also modern-styled. She was also 39 and would've been loooong in the tooth for Scarlet.

 

e4c152efb88e803aad84c7163c30f89f.jpg

 

...but the minute you see the test with Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel, something clicks and you know: these are the two.

 

ps- for the Melanie screen tests, I was quite impressed with Andrea Leeds, although Anne Shirley was good too.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

ps- for the Melanie screen tests, I was quite impressed with Andrea Leeds, although Anne Shirley was good too.

 

I thought the same thing. In fact Leeds looks an awful lot like deHavilland. I've not seen her in many things (Leeds that is) but she was very good in the screen test. But Olivia wanted it and was really perfect in the role. And I agree about Goddard. She's the only one who did the part justice before Leigh.

 

Katharine Hepburn is a really good actress and was attractive, but I don't think she'd have been able to pull off the prettiest girl in Georgia like Leigh did. Of course we didn't see her test for it so maybe she could, but she was too angular and New England to be believable as a southern belle.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After watching all of the proposed Scarlett role audition clips in this documentary the other night, I thought Joan Bennett probably came as close as anybody could at being as good as Leigh would eventually be as the character, and even more so than the front-runner for the part for a time, Paulette Goddard.

 

And while I really like Jean Arthur in roles where she's playing either "one of the guys" or the slightly befuddled type, I almost laughed out loud while watching her audition clip and wondered who could have possibly thought that she would have been at all well cast for the role of the sexy vixen Scarlett.

 

(...I mean Jean was cute and all, but REALLY?...SCARLETT???...this was somebody's idea of a joke, RIGHT?!)

 

I've seen this sort of stuff before.  It's when I learned the "burning of Atlanta" scene was done "on the fly", them taking advantage of an unfortunate fire on the backlot.  Clark Gable wasn't the guy driving that wagon through town, and Scarlett had yet to be cast!  And I've never watched KING KONG the same way again!  :)

 

Darg, What would have made Jean Arthur a REAL hoot would have also to have cast MELVYN DOUGLAS as Wilkes!  :D

 

I mean, I always loved the guy(and just saw HUD the other night!), but ASHLEY WILKES???

 

 

Sepiatone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Anyway... I will have to throw this out here right now: I have never seen Gone With the Wind. I'm waiting for a spectacularly crummy day here in Oregon to dedicate the entire afternoon to watching this film and for it not to also be football day, because I have to give football precedence over GWTW.

 

 

 

I can understand how hard it is to carve out a four hour block to watch GWTW. However, a good solution, if you're watching a recording, is to see it in two parts. The intermission comes about an hour and 48 minutes in and the structure of the film is such that it's a great spot to call it a night and pick up another time. Ideally the film should be seen in one sitting, but doing it in two parts is better than not seeing it at all.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After watching all of the proposed Scarlett role audition clips in this documentary the other night, I thought Joan Bennett probably came as close as anybody could at being as good as Leigh would eventually be as the character, and even more so than the front-runner for the part for a time, Paulette Goddard.

 

And while I really like Jean Arthur in roles where she's playing either "one of the guys" or the slightly befuddled type, I almost laughed out loud while watching her audition clip and wondered who could have possibly thought that she would have been at all well cast for the role of the sexy vixen Scarlett.

 

(...I mean Jean was cute and all, but REALLY?...SCARLETT???...this was somebody's idea of a joke, RIGHT?!)

 

 

I think Jean had been a girlfriend of Selznicks in the past and was how she got as far as she did in the running. I cant see her in the part either..........

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last night, I watched the "Making of Gone With the Wind" documentary. The documentary was from 1989, which didn't really matter as all the behind the scenes and recollections from those involved would be the same. The only information which would be different would be the figures that are thrown out comparing 1939's numbers to "today's."

 

Anyway... I will have to throw this out here right now: I have never seen Gone With the Wind. I'm waiting for a spectacularly crummy day here in Oregon to dedicate the entire afternoon to watching this film and for it not to also be football day, because I have to give football precedence over GWTW.

 

But I digress.

 

While I haven't seen this film, I know much about it, the characters, the famous lines, many of the famous scenes, the final line of the film, etc. I love Max Steiner's beautiful score. It's hard to not learn all those things about a film as old and as famous as GWTW. I really loved this documentary. While some of the animation was cheesy, I found it interesting and very informative.

 

Something I found rather curious was the lack of participation from Olivia de Havilland--the only surviving major cast member of the film since Viven Leigh's death in 1967. They didn't even have any archive interviews from de Havilland or anything. In fact, she was barely mentioned in the documentary at all, except for a mention that she was selected as Melanie and there were a few film clips of her attending the Atlanta premiere. She was also included in some photo stills.

 

Otherwise, this documentary was all about Leigh, Clark Gable and David O. Selznick.

 

To not bore everyone with everything that I learned from this documentary, these are the things that I found most interesting:

 

1) George Cukor was the original director of GWTW. Victor Fleming was the original director of The Wizard of Oz, which was filming at the same time as GWTW. Cukor was fired from GWTW, and Victor was moved off of TWOO to replace Cukor. Cukor replaced Fleming.

 

2) Clark Gable only did GWTW because he was promised a $50k bonus from Louis B. Mayer that would give Gable the money to divorce his current wife and marry Carole Lombard.

 

3) The famous burning of Atlanta scene was filmed before the movie even started officially filming. The GWTW sets were going to be built on the studio's backlot, but it was filled with old sets from previous films like King Kong and The Garden of Allah. The filmmakers decided to kill two birds with one stone and burn the sets down while having them stand in for Atlanta.

 

4) In the scene where Scarlett wears the red gown, Fleming was repeatedly dissatisfied with Leigh's appearance as he wanted her to look like a woman that Clark Gable would be interested in. Finally, he achieved his desired aesthetic by taping Leigh's breasts together to give her cleavage.

 

5) Margaret Mitchell sold the film rights to her novel for $50k and wanted nothing to do with the production afterward.

 

6) Selznick was constantly rewriting the script and never officially completed it, even when the film had completed production.

 

7) Actual Civil War veterans attended the premiere in 1939.

 

8) For the famous battle defeat scene, the filmmakers couldn't get a hold of enough extras to dress as soldiers and create the grand scene of devastation the director wanted. They ended up making dummies to lie next to the extras which had little levers that the extras could move in order to move the dummies' arms. On screen, the dummies with the waving arms would simulate injured soldiers.

 

9) Margaret Mitchell wrote the novel out of boredom when she was home-bound due to a series of injuries.

 

10) Scarlett O'Hara's original name in the first draft of the novel was "Pansy O'Hara," Mitchell's publisher convinced her to change it.

 

While this documentary definitely made me want to make sure to watch the film (I have to see it at least once), I really want to read the book now. I'll probably have to pick up a used copy. I can't check it out at the library (well I can), it's much too long for me to finish even after using up the number of renewals I'm allowed. I need the freedom owning the book would allow.

 

 

The movie leaves out a lot of stuff and condenses the plot. For instance  Scarlett has several children before Bonnie (I think with her first husband)..... I read the book a long time ago after I'd seen the film as a teenager.........It's good, but LONG.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Scarlett has a son with Charles and a daughter with Frank before she marries Rhett and they have Bonnie.

I think that's all the children she has in the book.

 

 

OK. I knew there were several. Just not sure with which husband!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've seen this sort of stuff before.  It's when I learned the "burning of Atlanta" scene was done "on the fly", them taking advantage of an unfortunate fire on the backlot.  Clark Gable wasn't the guy driving that wagon through town, and Scarlett had yet to be cast!  And I've never watched KING KONG the same way

 

Sepiatone

The fire wasn't done on the fly and filmmakers didn't take advantage of an unfortunate fire. They needed the space on the backlot for the new sets, but old sets from past films were still standing. They needed to remove the old sets in order to have enough space for the new sets. They decided to kill two birds with one stone by rigging the old sets with gas lines so that they could raise and lower the flame while shooting. They planned the fire for a couple weeks, because they only had one chance to film once the fire was started.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this was the best movie-related documentary ever made. I've seen it on TNT and later on TCM several times.

 

See TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION WIKI:

 

Beginnings

Turner Network Television launched at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on October 3, 1988; its inaugural telecast was the 1939 classic film Gone with the Wind, to which TNT founder Ted Turner had acquired the rights. The movie was chosen as the channel's first program because, it was said that Gone with the Wind was Turner's favorite movie (it would also serve as the first program aired on sister channel Turner Classic Movies, when it debuted in April 1994). Incidentally, Gone With the Wind had its premiere held in Atlanta, Georgia – Turner's hometown and the headquarters of the network's corporate parent, Turner Broadcasting System – and the city served as the setting for the film.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed this documentary, and of course, the film.

 

The first time I saw GWTW was in the summer of 1969.

I was visiting my grandparents in a very small, rural midwest, agricultural town.

My grandmother and I took a trip to "the big city" for a day and while we were about noticed that GWTW was making a 30 year anniversary run in the local movie palace.

Grandma told me that was the same theatre that she took my mom, aunts & uncles to see GWTW when it first played there in 1939.

The timing was perfect. The day was hot and we spent a long afternoon sitting together in that cool, air conditioned theater.

I asked where she and my mom sat, and she said somewhere near the front rows, so that is where we sat.

The lights went down, and the magnificent theme music began playing as the bright technicolor from the screen reached out into the darkness. And there, in that dimmed big-screen theater, sitting next to my grandmother as my mother had 30 years prior, I felt transported back to 1939.

It was a great experience, and made an indelible impression and association on me that has lasted to this day.

I have since seen a few other older films on the big theater screen, and nothing on TV can compare with that. But whenever GWTW is on, I am easily transported back to the time I first saw it with my grandmother.

And am warmed to make a call to my mom and tell her that I am thinking about her.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reading "Stephan55's" story brought back memories of an experience I had regarding "Gone With The Wind". I was still a kid and my mother wanted to take me to see it at one of the area theaters. The theater had a special showing and had the movie running for about 2-3 weeks. Well the day she took me they changed the marquee and they began showing "A Clockwork Orange". We were very disappointed (especially my Mom) but we decided to stay for the new movie anyway. Neither of us had any idea of what it was about. I remember feeling embarrassed watching a movie like this with my Mom and I could hear her whispering "Oh My" and "Oh My God" at many of the scenes. Finally she said "let's go" and told me not to tell my father what we just saw.

 

Then a few years later I believe it was CBS that broadcast it for the first time on TV. It was shown on two consecutive nights. I finally got to see it. I've seen it numerous times thru the past three decades and never tire of it.

 

I also agree with Fred that the documentary on the making of it is the best one I've ever seen. It held

my full attention for the entire running time. In addition to all the outtakes and screen tests I was

amazed at the genius of those guys involved with the special effects. Twelve Oaks looked so real yet it was only a glass painting! Considering this was 1939 they did an absolutely remarkable job on all the special effects and lighting.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think this was the best movie-related documentary ever made. I've seen it on TNT and later on TCM several times.

 

See TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION WIKI:

 

Beginnings

Turner Network Television launched at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time on October 3, 1988; its inaugural telecast was the 1939 classic film Gone with the Wind, to which TNT founder Ted Turner had acquired the rights. The movie was chosen as the channel's first program because, it was said that Gone with the Wind was Turner's favorite movie (it would also serve as the first program aired on sister channel Turner Classic Movies, when it debuted in April 1994). Incidentally, Gone With the Wind had its premiere held in Atlanta, Georgia – Turner's hometown and the headquarters of the network's corporate parent, Turner Broadcasting System – and the city served as the setting for the film.

Agreed.  This was a great documentary.  It was fun, informative and very interesting. 

 

I love when TCM shows these documentaries.  I love learning knew things about films, actors, filmmaking, the studios and Hollywood in general.  From watching the Gone With the Wind documentary, it really inspired me to want to see the film and to read the novel.  I didn't realize that it was such a drawn out process trying to get this film made.  It took them about 3 or so years to even plan and cast the film before they even started filming.  

 

I hope TCM keeps it up by scheduling these wonderful documentaries.  I'm looking forward to the rerun of the Moguls and Movie Stars documentary in October.  I think I missed a couple chapters and I'd love to see the series again. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After watching all of the proposed Scarlett role audition clips in this documentary the other night, I thought Joan Bennett probably came as close as anybody could at being as good as Leigh would eventually be as the character, and even more so than the front-runner for the part for a time, Paulette Goddard.

 

And while I really like Jean Arthur in roles where she's playing either "one of the guys" or the slightly befuddled type, I almost laughed out loud while watching her audition clip and wondered who could have possibly thought that she would have been at all well cast for the role of the sexy vixen Scarlett.

 

(...I mean Jean was cute and all, but REALLY?...SCARLETT???...this was somebody's idea of a joke, RIGHT?!)

From watching the clip of Jean Arthur's screen test, I have a feeling that Arthur didn't think she was right for the role either.  She seemed to be making fun of it in a way.  Her delivery of the dialogue just didn't have the seriousness that the other contenders had.  Maybe Arthur thought she'd audition on a lark or something. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

From watching the clip of Jean Arthur's screen test, I have a feeling that Arthur didn't think she was right for the role either.  She seemed to be making fun of it in a way.  Her delivery of the dialogue just didn't have the seriousness that the other contenders had.  Maybe Arthur thought she'd audition on a lark or something. 

 

Yet, it's interesting that without (seemingly) really trying, Arthur was still in the top five candidates right up until Selznick ran into Vivien Leigh at the filming of Atlanta's burning. She was almost forty, and yet she got closer to playing Scarlett than Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn and some of thE other HUGE names at the time.

 

(Although I'm not a fan of hers, Jean Arthur, it is said, was so popular with the public that she (allegedly) never appeared even once in a film that lost money.)

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't read the book, therefore I don't know if Scarlett is quite as self centredly bitchy as Vivien Leigh makes her appear (Leigh is, of course, excellent in the role, but I find it difficult to like her, particularly in the film's second half). Then, again, I have a hard time liking Vivien Leigh in almost any role she had played. Not Leigh as an actress, necessarily, just her character but those characters are obviously impacted by Leigh's personality, one, quite frankly, that I find resistable.

 

I freely admit that I have always been a sucker for vivacious, beautiful, charming Paulette Goddard, particularly in her earlier film roles up through the war years. I find her screen tests as Scarlett very impressive and she has personality to spare. I rather suspect, though, that she may not have been able to bring the same dramatic chops to the part that Leigh did in the film's big scenes.

 

Still I'm intrigued by the thought of Goddard as Scarlett, and her casting in the part would have probably changed the balance of the film to some degree as far as audience sympathies are concerned. Goddard's personality would have probably made Scarlett more likeable than the Scarlett of Vivien Leigh's creation.

 

Might that have thrown the film a bit more off balance when it came to Scarlett vs Rhett audience sympathies, particularly in the final chapters. Perhaps that feeling of emancipation that comes when Rhett declares the film's famous final line would not have been so great if the Scarlett he was walking away from was a more likeable one. As much as I am charmed by Goddard, her casting might have hurt the film in that respect (at least, compared to the decidedly bitchy Miss Leigh's characterization).

 

Still, I wish there was a Paulette Goddard version of GWTW to view. The closest that we ever came to it was when DeMille cast her as a vivacious free spirited southern belle in Reap the Wild Wind (and a captivating performance it was, too, even if was not a characterization with the kind of depth that would have been demanded of her in the Selznick epic).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't read the book, therefore I don't know if Scarlett is quite as self centredly bitchy as Vivien Leigh makes her appear (Leigh is, of course, excellent in the role, but I find it difficult to like her, particularly in the film's second half).

 

I think Scarlett (in the movie) is one of those film characters that seems so real, I do think of her as a real person. The same way I think of Ethan Edwards as a real person in THE SEARCHERS.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...