The film made box office history. It received ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Brest Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (for Hattie McDaniel - the first time a black person had been nominated & so honored) & no, Clark Gable did not win for Best Actor. GWTW is the highest grossing film of all time (adjusted for inflation). Costing almost 4 million to make, a tidy some back then, box office receipts for the movie, if adjusted for inflation, would make it the top grossing movie of all time; Star Wars would be the second most successful movie of all time. According to the Guinness World Records, the total gross in 2009 figures would be $3,785,107,801. To date, over 200 million movie tickets have been sold!
Interestingly too is that author Margaret Mitchell's first choice for Rhett Butler was Basil Rathbone (Sherlock Holmes???). The part was later turned down by Gary Cooper and then offered to Clark Gable who really didn't want the role and saw the movie as 'a woman's picture'. Ummmm Clark, the term now is chick flick. This southern film was shot almost entirely in Culver City, California. Tara sat on a 40 acre back lot that later became the TV set for Hogan's Heroes. The first movie scene shot was the burning of the Atlanta Depot, filmed on December 10, 1938. If there was a major mistake during that filming, the entire project might have been scrapped. They actually burned many old sets that needed to be cleared from the studio back lot including the "Great Wall" set from King Kong. The fire cost over $25,000, and yielded 113 minutes of footage. It was so intense that Culver City residents jammed the telephones lines, thinking MGM was burning down.
Clark Gable & Vivian Leigh had not even signed as yet and were stunted for.
OK, so there's a bit of little known (& useless) trivia on the flick unless you've got a spot coming up on Jeopardy next week. The lore and timeless attraction make this film so special none the less. It is historically romantic in its portrayal of so many aspects of the era....including its decidedly racist view of slavery. Nevertheless, it gives a fascinating view of the American South of long ago and when viewed in an elegant southern theatre before a southern audience it is even more special & fascinating!
Friday night The Orpheum Theatre was packed. I have seen GWTW 4 out my 5 years in Memphis and the locals always come out for this one. It's interesting the wide diversity of the crowd and we even had some 'southern belles' decked out in full regalia. The house lights went down precisely at 7:15 and the Overture began to resounding applause.
Interesting too are the very distinct halves of the film. The first part featuring the glories of the south & "We'll show them Yankees" along with, of course, Scarlett's infatuation with Ashley Wilkes and the second part with the devastation & recovery of the south, the tumultuous relationship between Rhett & Scarlett and , of course, the continuing infatuation with Ashley. Then too there is always Tara! Sitting in the audience you can feel the mood and pulse of the crowd as it changes dramatically through the course of the 4 hour viewing. Some things never change though....resounding applause for Rhett's final line in response to Scarlett's "But Rhett what shall I do?" -----"Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"..... ironically a rather harsh curse on film back in 1939. Even louder & sustained applause after Scarlett's final line and the credits! No wonder in my mind that GWTW continues to endure and, I suspect, will always be my favorite movie........made even more special by the venue, my own parallels &, of course, my hometown - Memphis!
Two other small pieces of trivia:
All four principal characters appear together in the same scene only once, after the raid on Shantytown, when Rhett tells the anxious group of the fate of Scarlett's second husband, Frank Kennedy. Yes Scarlett, you are a widow once again!