On Wednesday, August 30, 1939, producer David O. Selznick updated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s Director of Publicity Howard Strickling about the ongoing issue of Gone With the Wind’s running time.
In his letter, Selznick reported having shown a four hour and twenty-seven minute version of the film to Nicholas Schenck, president of MGM and parent company Loew’s, Inc. “[I]t was his judgment,” Selznick wrote, “that I should not attempt to get it down to any length just for length’s sake – that I should cut it purely for quality.”
For quality’s sake, Selznick had further edited Gone With the Wind to a running time of three hours and forty minutes. But this length—around 20,000 feet of film – did not include the montages that Selznick still planned to include.
“I frankly think we are going to have a hell of a job getting more than 1000 feet out of it from this point on without materially damaging it,” he advised Strickling.
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).