Following the February 13, 1939 joint statement that George Cukor was leaving the production and that David O. Selznick was seeking a new director for Gone With the Wind, some on-set loose ends remained.
Three scenes were in the midst of production:
- Rhett’s rescue from Atlanta
- Melanie and Ashley’s walk upstairs after Christmas dinner
- Scarlett and Ashley’s farewell at the end of his Christmas leave
Graciously, Cukor agreed to delay his departure for two days so he could complete those scenes. After filming the flight of Rhett, Scarlett, Melanie, Prissy and newborn Beau from Aunt Pittypat’s house, Cukor turned his attention to the two Ashley sequences — the only scenes Cukor filmed with Lesley Howard.
In the first scene, after Christmas dinner, Melanie and Ashley climb the stairs to second floor. When they reach the landing, they look back at Scarlett and say goodnight. Unfortunately, the script for this scene was later rewritten, so Cukor’s film footage was scrapped.
On February 15, 1939, Cukor shot the scene in which Scarlett gives Ashley a yellow silk sash. He reveals that the end of the war is near and extracts from Scarlett a promise to look after Melanie for him. At his farewell, Scarlett can’t bear to let him go and begs: “Oh, Ashley, tell me you love me. I’ll live on it all the rest of my life.” His only reply: “Good-bye.”
Because the dialogue and action came straight from Margaret Mitchell’s novel, this scene survived future script rewrites. Nevertheless, Ashley’s farewell to Scarlett also marked Cukor’s farewell to Gone With the Wind.
Blog Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book 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