Soon after producer David O. Selznick discreetly talked to Herbert Stothart, MGM’s musical director and composer, about taking over Gone With the Wind’s score from Max Steiner, all hell broke loose.
Stothart blabbed that he was being hired to fix Steiner’s work. This got back to Steiner, enraging him.
The news also reached MGM and Loew’s Inc., Vice President Sam Katz, angering him. He refused to have Stothart pulled from his current MGM assignment to work for Selznick. But, Stothart insisted, he was between assignments. When Katz asked underlings to verify Stothart’s claim, the brouhaha escalated. As Selznick related the episode: “Apparently, no two MGM executives could agree on whether or not Stothart was working at the moment, and on what.” The Stothart tempest in a teapot roiled on at MGM.
In the meantime, Max Steiner’s ire fueled his output on Gone With the Wind ’s score. By mid-November 1939, Steiner had scored more than half the film.
On November 17, 1939, Selznick sent a memo to Steiner, praising the work he had completed thus far and urging him to “just go mad with schmaltz in the last three reels.”
Happy 75th Anniversary, Gone With the Wind!
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