When David O. Selznick received the letter from the Hays office, outlining the strongest reasons for its refusal to permit the use of “damn” in Rhett’s exit line, the producer decided to appeal the decision to the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association of America’s Board of Directors.
At the Friday, October 27, 1939 board meeting, Selznick reiterated his arguments for allowing the prohibited word to be used in Gone With the Wind. President Will H. Hays opposed each argument.
Aligned with Hays were the heads of Universal, Paramount and Twentieth Century Fox. Supporting Selznick was the formidable Nicholas Schenck, president of MGM, the soon-to-be distributor of Gone With the Wind, whose investment was on the line depending upon the meeting’s outcome.
When the dust settled finally, the directors representing the major studios and independent producers voted to reverse the Hays office ruling and allow Selznick to use “damn.”
Waiving the profanity rule, Hays warned, might violate federal law and could draw unwanted attention from the Justice Department. So the board took an additional action. (To be continued…)
Happy 75th Anniversary, Gone With the Wind!
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Blog Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book (2nd edition) and an expert on the film and its history. Visit the website (www.paulinebartel.com/resources/books/books-available) for further information. Follow her on Twitter @PaulineBartel and “like” her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheCompleteGWTWTriviaBook).