Filming Takes an Emotional Toll on Gable

Loss and grief were center stage for Gone With the Wind’s filming during the week of Monday, May 29, 1939.

After Scarlett’s miscarriage, a distraught, unshaven Rhett sits alone in his room, blaming himself for what has happened. But Melanie soon brings news that Scarlett is better. Rhett, filled with relief and remorse, covers his face with his hands and weeps.

Initially, Clark Gable refused to cry on screen, fearing the humiliation of having audiences laugh at him. (Leading men in the 1930s were expected to be stoic in the face of tragedy.)

Director Victor Fleming proposed a compromise. Shoot the scene two ways: one with tears and the other simply showing a bereft Rhett’s back. Whichever one Gable thought was the stronger scene would be the one used. Gable agreed. After viewing the rushes, Gable was amazed at his performance. He decided that the weeping scene was more effective and okayed its use in the film.

Meanwhile, director Sam Wood directed Hattie McDaniel and Olivia de Havilland in the heartbreaking staircase scene during which Mammy tells Melanie that Rhett won’t allow Bonnie to be buried.  

On Thursday, June 1, 1939, Victor Fleming directed Olivia de Havilland and Clark Gable in the sequence during which Melanie asks to be admitted to Rhett’s room to see Bonnie. Fleming shot that scene several times before he was satisfied.

The emotional toll of the week’s filming proved too much for Gable. He excused himself from the set and retreated to his bungalow. When he returned, Gable remained somber and distant for the rest of the day.       

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), which will be published in June 2014, 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).

This entry was posted in Cinema, Film, Gone With the Wind, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.