2008-04-18

Film Fun Friday #1


(photo courtesy of the Internet Movie Database)

I'm launching what I hope will be a new feature. It's something I've been thinking about for a while now, considering I'm such a nut case when it comes to U.S. films of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.

It's Just Trivia, Folks

This is all done with fun in mind, because I've read tons and tons of trivia on these old Hollywood movies. I mean, I've got the movie books to prove it! (Just got the last one on Columbia Pictures off of eBay the other day, heh.)

Gone With the Wind - The Book

A lot of people probably don't know the sensation this book caused when it was released in 1936. It went on to several print runs, and this from a woman who was hesitant to have the book published in the first place!

I read in a bio of Margaret Mitchell that she had stacks of Gone With the Wind (GWTW) all over her apartment, and that she had to scramble to find all the pieces when she finally did decide to send it to a publisher.

Gone With the Wind - The Movie

There's a lot of trivia surrounding the movie version of the book; I've seen the movie several times (no, not when it first came out in 1939; how old do you think I am? ;-)), and it's just so lovely to look at. The performances of what's basically a soap opera are first rate, as is the musical score by Max Steiner.

It won a ton of OscarsTM, including one for Vivien Leigh.

Where's the Trivia?

It's just below, Grasshopper. :-) This is what I hope is some stuff that isn't widely known (except maybe by other movie nuts like me).
  • Vivien Leigh's agent was Myron Selznick, brother of David O. Selznick, the producer of GWTW. David had narrowed the list as to who would play Scarlett to two actresses (one of whom was Paulette Goddard), but Myron brought Vivien along to the first scene to be shot and declared to his brother that he'd found Scarlett.
  • The first scene to be shot was the burning of Atlanta, where Rhett puts a cloak or something over the horse's eyes and leads the horse through. First, none of the principle actors or actresses are in that scene; they're all stunt doubles (I believe Yakima Canutt, who came to fame with John Wayne, doubled as the Rhett character). Second, there were some old sets being burned in that scene - including the huge wall from King Kong (obviously, the original version of that movie). The wall had been sitting there for six years, so Selznick thought it was high time to get rid of it. And what better way than to combine it with a shot for use in another movie?
  • Speaking of King Kong, David O. Selznick headed up RKO at the time King Kong went into production. He filched money from other productions once he saw the dailies; his instinct told him this was something worth spending money on.
  • George Cukor was originally pencilled in as the director of GWTW. A friend of Selznick's, he was well known for especially helping actresses give good performances. He was subsequently fired by Selznick because he was moving too slowly; Selznick eventually decided that two directors were needed, one for the main story, the other for second unit stuff (outdoor scenes, that sort of thing). Victor Fleming was brought on board, even though he'd just worked like a bandit on The Wizard of Oz. He had a nervous breakdown at one point; Selznick brought in another director for a few days while Fleming recovered.
  • Interestingly, Cukor was originally brought in as the director of The Wizard of Oz. His main contribution to that film - and it was a biggie - was to get rid of Judy Garland's "doll face" make-up and blonde wig. It was thought that the reason for Garland's get up was because Louis B. Mayer's (head of M-G-M at the time) obsession with signing Shirley Temple; Cukor thought the story suggested a more homespun, down-to-earth look. And, of course, he was right. :-)
And that's your trivia for today. Tune in next week - and have a good weekend! :-)

~Nancy Beck

2 comments:

Liz Brooker said...

Cool trivia stuff, Nancy. I love the film but the spouse gives me "the look" when every I suggest watching it. I could bring it with me on the road, but watching a film on my laptop just doesn't do it for me. I'd really like to see Gone With The Wind in one of the old-time movie theatres with a single huge screen like the Odeon in Leicester Square (at least that's how it used to be) because that's the best way to enjoy them.

Nancy Beck said...

Oh...I agree wholeheartedly! Seeing GWTW on one of those big'un screens would be awesome.