1- A FILM PREMIERE
To world premiere held in Atlanta, that Friday, November 15, 1939, almost the entire team attended: the author of the novel, Margaret Mitchell, was the most acclaimed, followed by Clark Gable accompanied by his wife, the also famous actress Carole Lombard, who died three years later in a plane crash and Vivien Leigh with Laurence Olivier, who a year later would become her second husband. They did not attend the event ni Hattie McDaniel ni Butterfly Moqueen, the ineffable servants of the O’Hara family. Although no one dared to mention the cause, they all knew it: the laws that maintained the racial segregation in public facilities they made their attendance impossible.
2- ROLLING: CAMERA… ACTION!
The filming lasted approximately 125 days. Now, David O. Selznick had begun the search for his female protagonist, Scarlet, two years earlier through an advertising campaign that was unparalleled for the time that cost $ 92,000.
The uncertainty would continue until the first day of filming, December 10, 1938. It would be during that day when the director’s brother, Myron, would arrive on set accompanied by Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh and, in an obvious drunken state, would tell him to David: ‘I present to you Scarlet.’ The actress, after being subjected to several tests, would finally be selected.
3- LEIGH AND GABLE: LOVE OR HATE?
As famous as it is discussed is the alleged bad relationship that the leading couple maintained during filming. While some defend that Gable and Leigh respected each other as it was appropriate for two actors of their stature, others defend that they could not stand each other and that while one ingested onions with relish to ‘flavor’ the passionate kisses that the film collects, the other opted for smoking pack after pack of cigarettes in pursuit of the same end, disgusted by the fact that the actor wore false teeth.
Be that as it may, the chemistry between the two is unquestionable: their interpretations captivate and trap the viewer throughout the film, convincing them that it is one of the most authentic love stories in cinema.
4- WHO WILL BE RHETT BUTLER?
Regarding the selection of the male protagonist, it should be noted that Selznick tried to negotiate that Gary Cooper or Errol Flynn were transferred to him by Mayer, since he was married to Irene Mayer, daughter of the almighty Louis B. Mayer, but he hated his son-in-law so it was vetoed. Cooper, moreover, had been quick to reject the role arguing: ‘gone With the Wind It will be the biggest failure in the history of cinema. ‘ Smell was not lacking …
But the audience, who had eagerly devoured the novel, had already chosen their Rhett Butler: Clark Gable was their man.
5- WHO DID NOT GET SCARLET
The aforementioned advertising campaign attracted approximately 1,400 actresses, including Hollywood stars who aspired to play the intrepid protagonist, for which they had to undergo severe tests: Katharine Hepburn, who refused to take the test; Carole Lombard, Gable’s wife, which would have meant getting a real ‘movie’ partner; Joan Fontaine, who would be rejected although her sister, Olivia de Havilland, would be chosen to play the sweet Melania; Irene Dunne, Norma Shearer, or Elizabeth Taylor, who would not take the role, but would be selected to play Bonnie, the daughter of the protagonist couple, an interpretation that she was forced to reject due to parental prohibition.
6-MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
The loan of Clark Gable by Mayer was expensive for Selznick, since the film mogul did not hesitate to take advantage of his opportunity: MGM would yield to ‘the King’ and finance half of the five and a half million dollars that was going to cost the production, but in exchange it would keep the world rights to the distribution of the film. To this day we can confirm that the creator of the star sytem he had real entrepreneurial talent. ‘Gone with the Wind ‘is the highest grossing film in the history of cinema, more than 3.33 billion dollars.
7- THE SECRET OF GABLE:
The tape would be shot by five different directors.
It all began ten days after the start of filming when Selznick fired George Cukor and replaced him with Victor Fleming, who would shoot the film, but also William Cameron Menzies, production designer, and Sam Wood (who would replace Fleming when he suffered a nervous breakdown ) would direct various sequences.
The dismissal of Cukor, recognized as a great director of actresses and confessed homosexual, would always be blamed on Gable, who preferred his friend Victor Fleming, “a director of men.” Later it was published that the reason for Gable’s request was due to other reasons, and is that allegedly in his youth the actor would have worked in Hollywood as a gigolo, having offered his services to William Haines, a homosexual acquaintance from the film mecca and an intimate friend of Cukor.
The one who lost out without a doubt was Vivien Leigh, since Fleming, director of The Wizard of OzUnlike Cukor, he was sparing in words and directions, so much so that it was rumored that one day when the actress came to ask him for advice, he sent her off with a sour: ‘Take the script and shove it up your British ass.’
8- WITH CENSORSHIP WE HAVE FOUND
Rhett Butler’s farewell to a troubled and desperate Scarlet: ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn’, his last sentence in the film, almost did not pass the censorship. O’Selznick was forced to duly ‘coat’ the censors in order to ensure that they respected the last expression, a profane expletive of impossible translation into Spanish, which here our censorship hastened to transform into a more respectful ‘Frankly dear, I don’t give a damn’.
For its part, the ecclesiastical classification in Spain was emphatic: ‘4, seriously dangerous’, which plunged the blessed moviegoers into a serious dilemma, since the vision of the masterpiece could carry the risk of excommunication. And it was not for less: Margaret Mitchell with that novel that had earned her the Pulitzer, had managed to summarize in her novel almost all human sins: infidelity, murder, rape, racism…. Quite a challenge to National Catholicism.
9- AND THE WINNER IS…
‘Gone with the Wind’ reaped a whopping 8 Oscars of the 13 to which it was nominated. Among them are ehe first award won by an African-American performer, given to Hattie McDaniel, the beloved ‘Mammy’, and the award for best film, the first award obtained for a film shot in color.
Interestingly, against all odds, neither Gable nor Olivia de Havilland won their accolades as lead actor and supporting actress.
10- GONE WITH THE WIND IN SPAIN
The first dubbing in Castilian would be made by the Metro in 1947, but the censorship would quickly stop him. The film would not reach our country until 1950. Long-awaited, it would finally premiere on November 17. Both in Madrid, at the Palacio de la Música, and in Barcelona, where it would be screened at the Windsor Palace, it would constitute a true social milestone.
From the hand of Calvin, Gable would once again say goodbye to Scarlet from the small screen on June 27, 1986 . The amount paid for the rights would never be officially revealed, but almost two million dollars was accepted. about 280 million pesetas, amount that the good TVE director intended to cover with advertising, if the eight advertising blocks were sold, 96 advertisements ready to be broadcast during the footage of the film. The business would close with 373 million pesetas, a record for TVE.
Y… THE END
Since that magical day, we Spaniards can calmly enjoy from our armchairs one of the most beloved and respected films in the history of the seventh art and vibrate before that maxim that unfortunately always comes to our hair: ‘Even if I have to cheat, be a thief or murderer, I put God as my witness that I will never go hungry again!
So be it, dear Miss Scarlet.