On Wednesday, October 18, 1939, producer David O. Selznick held a second preview of Gone With the Wind. This time the location was the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, California. That audience was just as wild with excitement as the September 9 Riverside audience had been.
Since this was Selznick’s last chance to gauge audience reaction to Gone With the Wind, the preview questionnaire asked audience members:
- How did you like the picture?
- Was the action of the picture entirely clear? If not, where was it confusing?
- Was the sound entirely clear and could you understand the dialogue? If not, do you recall which parts were inaudible?
- Did any parts seem too long? If so, what parts?
- What did you think of the cast?
- Have you any other suggestions to make?
- Do you think the picture should be played with an intermission?
- Will you come to see the picture again?
- What, for you, would be the most convenient time of day to start the picture, both for matinee and evening performances? In answering this question, please bear in mind that the picture with an intermission will be four hours long.
- Do you think the picture should be played with continuous performances all day, or only at specified times as is the case with a play?
- Would you prefer to buy reserved seats?
- What scale of admission prices do you think should be charged? And would you be prepared to pay a higher price if the producers went to the expense of having only two or three shows a day, with reserved seats?
One Santa Barbara resident called Gone With the Wind “the most wonderful, interesting and breath taking picture I’ve ever witnessed. Never enjoyed anything as much.”
Yet the same viewer thought the sequence of Rhett kissing his wife was excessive, stating that the action was “too long and suggestive for young folks to witness.”
Perhaps said viewer meant the scene during which Rhett kisses Scarlett violently and then says: “You turned me out while you chased Ashley Wilkes – while you dreamed of Ashley Wilkes. This is one night you’re not turning me out!”
Softly fade to black on the screen. Cue the embarrassed blushes in the audience.
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).