Classic Rewatch

Gone With The Wind

Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable star in the iconic 1939 historical romance epic. 

Do you have three hours and 42 minutes to spare for today’s Lockdown Rewatch? Of course you do, what else is crammed into your diary? Settle back for a historical romance of epic proportions, with career-best performances by Vivien Leigh and Clark Cable in the 1939 blockbuster Gone With The Wind. It may not be everyone’s cup of (sweet) tea, but the drama set during the American Civil War is one of those films you should watch to understand what all the fuss was about and which made Gone With The Wind the highest-earning release for 25 years and took home 10 Academy Awards…

But did you know…

1) Casting the film’s leading man was a long and tiresome endeavour. Producer David Selznick refused to consider anyone but Clarke Gable for Rhett Butler, but Gable was under contract with rival studio MGM. It took Selznick two years to finally strike a deal with MGM – he’d have to pay Gable’s regular weekly salary, provide MGM with half of the film’s profits and MGM’s parent company, Loew’s, would secure exclusive distribution rights. 

2) The very first scene that the production shot was the burning of Atlanta. In order to create the blazing flames without the help of CGI and special effects (it was the 1930s…) the production was forced to burn actual sets. They doused some of the previously built film sets at the RKO Forty Acres studio backlot, including those for King Kong, in kerosene and set them on fire. They only had one chance to get the scene right.

3) To achieve the film’s iconic crane shot offering a bird’s-eye view of the aftermath of the Battle of Atlanta, the production had to hire a truck-mounted crane with an extension range of 125 feet from a construction company. In addition, a 150-foot long concrete ramp had to be built to ensure the crane moved smoothly and the camera would capture a steady image.