By September, producer David O. Selznick was ready to preview Gone With the Wind. Because the film was not completely finished, he didn’t want to attract the attention of the press, so plans for the preview were super hush-hush.
On Saturday, September 9, 1939, Selznick, an entourage, 24 reels of film, and 24 reels of sound track arrived at the Riverside Theater in Riverside, California. The audience was told that instead of the expected feature, Beau Geste, they were about to see a very long movie. People were given the chance to leave if they wished, but they were warned that once the film started no one would be allowed to exit or to enter the theater.
Murmurs of anticipation rose among the audience. As the title swept across the screen, moviegoers were on their feet with shouts of joy. They jumped to their feet again four hours later when the film ended and gave Selznick a thunderous ovation. Selznick and his wife wiped away tears. Later Selznick called the evening a “sensational success. The reaction was everything that we hoped for and expected.”
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).