Filming Bonnie and Special Effects

A book to celebrate GWTW's 75th Anniversary!

A book to celebrate GWTW’s 75th Anniversary!

On Wednesday, July 5, 1939, Gone With the Wind’s postproduction action was focused on Scarlett and Rhett’s daughter, Bonnie Blue Butler. On the MGM studio lot at the Cohen Park location, production designer William Cameron Menzies directed four-year-old Cammie King in the sequence before her fatal ride.

King was costumed in a long blue-velvet riding habit that was accessorized with a red-plumed hat and red riding gloves. Sitting sidesaddle, she pranced about the garden on a dark bay Shetland pony.  “Mommy! Daddy! Watch me!” Two doubles portrayed the backs of Scarlett and Rhett, watching their daughter for the last time.

Later, cast and crew returned to the Selznick studio where Menzies filmed close up shots of Bonnie in her bed in Rhett’s London hotel suite.

During the same week, film editor Hal Kern directed a number of short, special-effects scenes, including:

  • Twelve Oaks as a burned-out shell that Scarlett encounters on her way home to Tara;
  • Scarlett’s whipping the horse until it collapses and dies. This special effect was filmed in the dark with Joan Rodgers doubling for Scarlett.  
  • Scarlett (aka Joan Rodgers) running across Tara’s lawn toward the front door, filmed with an eerie moonlight effect.

With the special-effects and insert photography completed, Hal Kern assisted producer David O. Selznick in reviewing all of Gone With the Wind’s footage with the goal of putting together a rough cut of the film.

Happy 75th Anniversary, Gone With the Wind!

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).

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