Gone With the Wind‘s set was a pressure cooker during the week of Monday, April 24, 1939. Working under intense pressure made the exhausted Victor Fleming even more explosive as he directed scenes of:
- Scarlett’s bereavement and brandy
- Rhett’s marriage proposal
- Prissy’s pleading with Rhett outside of Belle Watling’s establishment
- Scarlett’s entrance to Ashley’s birthday party
- Melanie’s welcoming Scarlett to the party
- Melanie’s death
The scene of Melanie’s death required the script assistance of screenwriter Sidney Howard. He was on the set on Thursday, April 27, helping Fleming prepare the scene’s final shooting version. When the scene was filmed and that “very great lady” died, gloom descended on the set and tears flowed.
While that scene’s release of emotion may have acted as a safety valve for cast and crew, it didn’t for Fleming. Tensions on the set continued.
Then on Saturday, April 29, 1939, the lid blew off the pressure cooker that was Gone With the Wind‘s set. The overwrought director — perhaps suffering from a nervous breakdown — walked off the set, threatening to drive his car off the nearest cliff.
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 spring 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).