On Friday, April 21, 1939, Victor Fleming completed filming the evening sewing circle sequence, during which Rhett convinces Melanie to tell him where the Southern vigilantes are meeting, Scarlett learns about the raid on Shantytown and Rhett brings home a wounded Ashley.
In that sequence Olivia de Havilland read aloud from David Copperfield. Yet in Margaret Mitchell’s novel, Melanie reads from Les Miserables. Why the switch?
David Copperfield was a nod to producer David O. Selznick’s father. Russian immigrant Lewis Selznick learned English by reading the Dickens’s novel and encouraged his sons to read the tome, too, which David did at the age of seven.
As a producer, David O. Selznick convinced his father-in-law and boss, Louis B. Mayer, to allow him to bring the novel to the silver screen. Selznick and director George Cukor conducted a talent search in Canada and Great Britain for a child actor to play the title role and selected London-born Freddie Bartholomew for the part.
After debuting in 1935, the film earned critical acclaim and three Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. A New York Times film critic lauded the film as “the most profoundly satisfying screen manipulation of a great novel the camera has ever given us.”
If David O. Selznick had had a crystal ball, he might have gazed into the future — circa 1939 — and reported: “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
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).