The Making Of A Legend: Gone With The Wind (1989): Starring the narrator Christopher Plummer, the voices of L. Jeffrey Selznick, Arthur E. Arling, Katherine Brown, Arthur Fellows, Ann Rutherford, Evelyn Keyes, Butterfly McQueen, Raymond A. Klune, James E. Newcom, Marcella Rabwin, Harry L. Wolf and the Archive Footage of Margaret Mitchell, David O. Selznick, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, Olivia De Havilland, Leslie Howard, Hattie McDaniel, Oscar Polk, Carole Lombard, Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward, Jean Arthur, Tallulah Bankhead, Joan Bennett, George Cukor, Victor Fleming......Director David Hinton.
This is director David Hinton's magnificent 1989 documentary about the making of the 1939 Oscar winning epic "Gone With The Wind", still considered by many to be the greatest film of the 20th century. Hinton's documentary first aired on PBS/KCET around 1990 and is now a bonus feature in the new Gone With The Wind 4-disc DVD Collector's Edition. This is a long, wonderfully detailed documentary that takes the viewers back to late 30's Hollywood for a step-by-step look at the making of this beloved American movie classic. For the most devote "Wind" fan, this is a huge treat. Veteran actor Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music) provides the narration and Max Steiner's enchanting score for the film plays in the background. The film was the product of ambitious director David O. Selznick, who bought the rights from Atlanta author Margaret Mitchell, whose Pulitzer prize winning novel had sold millions. We see into the lives of the prominent forces behind the film- Selznick, Mitchell, the principal actors, namely Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, as well as the buzz around the film. Selznick pulled one of the greatest publicity stunts of the time. He had cast Hollywood newcomer Vivien Leigh as Scarlett but still continued to deceive the public into thinking the perfect Scarlett had not yet been found. Because Scarlett O'Hara was the most coveted movie role for an actress in the late 30's, several brand name and no-name actresses were considered for the role and auditioned, including top choices Bette Davis (who received her second Oscar for the '38 film "Jezebel" in a similar role to Scarlett), Paulette Goddard who was chummy with the director, Katherine Hepburn, Southern-born Tallulah Bankhead, Miriam Hopkins (who had performed the Broadway play Jezebel) Joan Bennett, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner, Jean Arthur, even Lucille Ball. We watch as Vivien Leigh and her soon-to-be husband Laurence Olivier journey from England to Hollywood, hoping to land the role she was born to play. We watch as production is besieged with several problems including the chaotic use of three different-minded directors (Cukor, Wood and Fleming), difficulties with actors and directors including Gable's clash with Cukor, censorship and Hay's Code problems with Gable's infamous use of the word "damn" in the final scene and faulty, early Technicolor process. Finally, after two long years of filming, "The Wind" sweeps Atlanta for its December premiere in the grandest spectacle the town had ever seen, never mind the onset of World War II just around the corner. It swept the Oscars in 1940, earning Selznick, Leigh and Hattie McDaniel their Oscars. Selznick would never make a greater film. His tomb reads "Director of Gone With The Wind". We see interviews with actresses Evelyn Keyes and Ann Rutherford (Suellen and Careen, Scarlett's sisters) and Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) who was still alive to comment on the film but who would die tragically in 1995. We watch as the film remains popular years afterward and when the remaining cast attends the 1961 Civil War Centennial and we learn about the tragic deaths of Leslie Howard, Clark Gable and Margaret Mitchell. America would see re-releases of the movie throughout the years, even well into the late 90's. This documentary strips the romantic glamor of the film to reveal it was just as difficult to make as any expensive film then and now. But the documentary honors the great film as a work of art, a film that will be loved for years to come. Gone With The Wind fans will cherish this priceless documentary. It is a film that represented the zenith of old Hollywood movie-making, a film based on a great American novel which still captures the imagination of modern-day audiences. Return to Tara with Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, watch as we learn how Atlanta fell in a studio back lot which was once the set of "King Kong", watch as an obscure English girl reaches film immortality, watch the first black actress win her Oscar, learn the cold facts about the movie, look behind the scenes to discover beauty born out of madness and mayhem and watch as a legendary movie comes to glorious life. Enjoy!!
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