Filming Gone With the Wind’s Sweeping Main Title

A book to celebrate GWTW's 75th Anniversary!

A book to celebrate GWTW’s 75th Anniversary!

As July led to August 1939, producer David O. Selznick decided that Gone With the Wind deserved the grandest main title in movie-making history. He shared his desire with film editor Hal Kern.

Kern came up with a brilliant idea: Have the G appear, fill the screen and then be swept away by the O, followed in the same manner by the other individual letters of the title words. Imagining the splendor of such a title, Selznick dispatched Kern and his concept to Pacific Title Archives, a post-production studio that specialized in main title design.  The experts there tried and ultimately nixed the idea.

“We found out that the proportion was all wrong,” Kern later recalled, “so finally they came up with each of the words individually sweeping across. It took away a little from my first thought, but it was still very impressive, and David loved it when he saw it.”

To create the main title, Pacific Title artists hand painted each word on one of four plate-glass sheets. To film the main title, production staff had to borrow a special dolly from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

On the day of the shoot, the crew mounted the camera to the dolly. Then the camera operator and a camera assistant positioned themselves on the dolly to run the camera. At a prearranged signal, the dolly grip put the dolly into motion, moving it smoothly across the four hand-lettered panels, while the camera crew filmed.  

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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