In early May 1939, Sam Wood had directed “Belle Watling on the Church Steps” — twice.
The first time, Ona Munson’s costume had been heavily padded to make the slim actress look like the well-endowed Belle. The costume department outdid themselves, though, and Wood feared that Belle’s prominent bosom would not escape the Hays Office censors. Wood reshot the scene the following week with equally unsatisfactory results.
On Friday, June 2, 1939, Victor Fleming directed the third and final retake of “Belle Watling on the Church Steps.” For that reshoot, the costume department applied a less-is-more strategy and achieved a censor-acceptable representation of the buxom Belle.
As soon as that scene was completed, Munson changed into Belle’s red skirt and jacket with white feather-and-lace trim for her brief encounter with Scarlett outside the Atlanta jail. Sam Wood directed this sequence in which Munson had only two lines: “Tell him ‘Belle Watling'” and “Oh, I keep myself occupied…Help me out.”
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 on June 9, 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).