On Thursday, January 26, 1939, director George Cukor yelled “Action,” and Gone With the Wind‘s principal photography began. The opening scene he shot that day turned out to be one of Gone With the Wind‘s jinxed scenes.
Vivien Leigh in her green sprig silk muslin dress warned the Tarleton boys that one more mention of war would send her right into the house. But when the rushes of that scene were shown, producer David O. Selznick was aghast that the Tarletons’ curly hairstyles had photographed bright orange. He ordered the scene reshot.
Four days later, the trio once more appeared on Tara’s porch. This time the Tarletons’ hairstyles were straightened and darkened. Selznick was pleased with the results of their coiffures, but the acting abilities of Fred Crane and George Reeves left much to be desired.
When Victor Fleming took over directing duties on Wednesday, March 1, the porch scene was shot again. This third time the camera caught Scarlett’s flirtations from a different angle, but this was no better than the previous two tries.
On Wednesday, June 14, 1939 Vivien Leigh reported for the scene of Gerald’s walk with Scarlett in which he declares that “land’s the only thing that lasts.” While preparing for that scene, she learned that Selznick had decided she would wear the white, high-necked, ruffled dress from the Evening Prayers sequence. White, Selznick believed, would make Scarlett look more virginal. That meant, of course, that all of the previously filmed porch scenes had to be scrapped. Not even close-ups could be saved.
The fourth version of the porch scene was filmed on Monday, June 26. Vivien Leigh dressed in white, listened as the Tarletons told her that Ashley was engaged to marry his cousin Melanie. But Leigh’s face reflected more than distress at this news. She looked pale, haggard and worn from five months of grueling work.
On Friday, October 13, Victor Fleming directed the fifth version of the porch scene. Leigh, fresh from a vacation, was well rested and once again the beautiful image of 16-year-old Scarlett as she complained to the Tarletons that talk of war was spoiling all the fun at every party.
2023 Twin Year: The 2023 calendar matches the days of the 1939, making 2023 a twin year to 1939. That’s the premise of Pauline’s new book Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day. In that book, she chronicles the production, premieres and reception of GWTW from January 1, 1939 to December 31, 1939. Fans will love following the drama and intrigue of GWTW’s production on each event’s exact day and date.
Blogger Bio: Pauline Bartel is the author of Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day, The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book, and an expert on the film and its history. Follow Pauline on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Request a personally inscribed bookplate by sending a request to PaulineBartel@cs.com. Visit her Amazon.com Author Page and leave a review telling other GWTW fans why you love Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day.