Since screen writer and playwright Sidney Howard’s original effort, Gone With the Wind‘s script had been changed by numerous pens. David O. Selznick had resorted to printing revised pages on different shades of colored paper in an effort to keep track of each writer’s contributions.
By the time Victor Fleming was hired as director, the script resembled a veritable rainbow. Fleming’s graphic estimation of the script’s quality shocked Selznick into admitting that the script was, indeed, in serious trouble.
Selznick had no time to lose in reviving his script. Each day of suspended filming was costing the studio over $65,000. So Selznick turned to a famous script doctor who had a reputation for working miracles, Ben Hecht.
Hecht, brilliant but cynical, had begun his career as a playwright with his partner Charles MacArthur. Together they penned The Front Page and Twentieth Century. Lured by more lucrative work in Hollywood, Hecht then turned to writing scripts. He wrote Design for Living for Ernst Lubitsch and Notorious for Alfred Hitchcock. He always worked for the best price because he was a shrewd bargainer and a fast writer. He had written Nothing Sacred for Selznick in two weeks and rewrote Hurricane for Samuel Golden in two days.
But could Hecht save Gone With the Wind?
To be continued…
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