On Thursday, January 26, 1939, George Cukor called “Action,” and Gone With the Wind’s principal photography began. 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, 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 their acting abilities left much to be desired.

When Victor Fleming took over directing duties on Thursday, March 2, 1939, the porch scene was shot again. This third time the camera caught Scarlett’s flirtations from a different angle, but this was not better than the previous two tries. Selznick rejected the footage.

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 last.” 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 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, 1939. 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. Fleming’s filming of the porch scene continued for a few hours during the morning of Tuesday, June 27, 1939.

After Selznick viewed the footage, he was unhappy with the results. Later, when he saw Leigh on the set, he took a close look at her face. “My God, you look old!” he exclaimed.

“You’d look old, too,” she snapped, “if you’d been working 18 hours a day for weeks on end.”

Selznick couldn’t argue with that. He ordered a re-shoot of the porch scene and probably wondered if he would ever get an acceptable opening scene for Gone With the Wind.

On Friday, October 13, 1939, Fleming directed the fifth version of the porch scene. Leigh, fresh from a vacation, was well-rested and once again the beautiful image of sixteen-year-old Scarlett as she complained to the Tarletons that talk of war was spoiling all the fun at every party.

Source: The Complete GONE WITH THE WIND Trivia Book (2nd ed.)
Gone With the Wind: 1939 Day by Day (2022)

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. #GWTW1939DaybyDay
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. #GWTW1939DaybyDay