clark gable comrade x
From January 1941:
I’ll bet Clark Gable could have walloped that youngster who hung around the “Comrade X” company on location and shinnied up a telephone pole, gathered a crowd below him, and did a play-by-play broadcast of Clark’s hurry-up change of clothes in his outside dressing room. The company was on location at Los Angeles harbor and Clark was dressing in a ceilingless enclosure. The youngster did a thorough job by shouting to his hilarious audience, “He’s takin’ off his left shoe—now he’s takin’ off his right—now he’s putting on his shirt!” he didn’t miss a trick, he even got in a lurid description of Gable’s colored shorts.
 
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clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind

Seventy-five years ago this week, on June 27, 1939,  Clark Gable uttered what was to be the sentence that followed him around the rest of his life and beyond–”Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

June 27 was the the last day of principal filming on Gone with the Wind, and even though the film was not shot in sequence at all, it happened to be the day they filmed the very last scene.

clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind

Here’s some trivia regarding that famous last scene and that enduring line:

The original line in the book is “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” Producer David O. Selznick threw in the “Frankly” for emphasis.

Director Victor Fleming also filmed a version of the scene in which Rhett says, “Frankly my dear, I just don’t care.” in case the censors didn’t approve the use of the word “damn.”

There’s a rumor that persists to this day that the Motion Picture Association fined Selznick $5,000 for the use of the word “damn,” but actually the MPA passed an amendment to the Production Code on November 1, 1939, that forbade use of the words “hell” or “damn” except when their use “shall be essential and required for portrayal, in proper historical context, of any scene or dialogue based upon historical fact or folklore … or a quotation from a literary work, provided that no such use shall be permitted which is intrinsically objectionable or offends good taste.” With that amendment in place, the MPA had no reason to fine Selznick.

There is also a persistent rumor that Gone with the Wind was the first film to feature the word “damn,” which is ridiculous. The word was uttered dozens of times in Hollywood’s precode era, even appearing in print in silents in 1925.

Selznick rewrote the final scene several times, finally completing it to his own satisfaction the night before shooting began.

MGM head honcho Louis B. Mayer wanted to end the film  with Scarlett racing out of the house after Rhett and him embracing her in the street.

The final scene of the movie was supposed to be Scarlett standing against a fence, gazing at Tara. The scene was shot, but only a few stills remain.

In 2005, The American Film Institute voted “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” as the #1 movie line of all time.

 

clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind frankly my dear clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind frankly my dear clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind frankly my dear

clark gable

From February 1933:

….I beg to be allowed to take up [the fan battle between Gable and Novarro fans].  In their foolish outbursts, pro and con, they have neglected to use the one effective weapon of all–I refer them to the criterion of the show business-Variety, a magazine that does not deal in conjectures, but cold hard facts and statistics.

In the list of ten most popular players, Clark Gable’s name is prominently displayed, while Novarro’s is not included. In the list of then ten greatest movie-making and box office stars, Clark’s name is there again–but where, oh where, is Novarro’s?

Variety also lists Clark Gable as “MGM’s greatest male attraction” and in grading them gives him an “A” and Novarro a “B.” However, as there were mighty few “A’s,” the Novarro fans should not be too despondent, and as for the Gableites, well, we’re not bragging, we’re just proud.

In the face of all this reliable statistical information, it might be wise for the Novarro fans to cease shouting “Clark Gable will never be as great a favorite as Novarro.” He is now ten times greater!

Bravo, Clark, old boy! When it comes down to cold, hard facts, you’re there with the good every time. We’re proud of you.

-Mary Margaret

Mimico, Ontario, Canada

From June 1933:

This is a reply to Mary Margaret’s letter, which appeared in [this magazine] in February.

In exalting her own idol, this particular Gabeite has evidently forgotten a most important fact: that Novarro has been a star for nearly eleven years. If Variety so much as mentions Clark Gable ten years hence, then, and only then, will his fans have just cause to boast that he is as great a favorite as Novarro. I am willing to wager, however, that in less than five years Mr. Gable will have taken that inevitable toboggan ride into oblivion.

One writer’s opinion regarding Gable’s sudden ride to popularity may interest you:  “Gable is not a great actor. He has risen above the mob by sheer force of personality. He plays not upon the intellects of his audience but upon its emotions.”

That seems to be a fairly reasonable explanation. Gable exerts a purely elemental influence over his fans.

In decided contrast, we have Novarro–cultured, refined, a man who has always been an inspiration in the true sense of the word. The two are direct opposites in every way, so it is entirely a matter of taste.

Yes, we Novarro fans are proud of our idol. We have every reason to be. And we’ll be singing his praises long after Gable has passed into the limbo of forgotten stars.

-Coral D. Winter

3691 West King Edward Avenue

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

From September 1933:

To Coral D. Winter: Just because Novarro has been a star for nearly eleven years doesn’t prove anything. Clark Gable is more popular than Novarro, and records show it. You have no proof that Ramon still will be, and Clark won’t be a star five to ten years from now, have you? If Gable has risen above the mob by sheer force of his personality, give him credit for it. And if you doubt his acting ability, see “The White Sister,”  and you’ll speedily change your mind about that. Mind you, I haven’t anything against Ramon Novarro. He is everything you say. But if I had to choose between him and Gable, my choice would always be the latter.

-”San Francisco”

___

Well, Coral Winter, I’m sorry but you lost your bet–quite badly. Ten years later, in 1943, Clark Gable was one of the biggest stars on the planet, had starred in the biggest box office picture of all time and would continue working steadily until his death nearly thirty years later, dying just ten days after completing his final picture. By 1933, Novarro’s golden days were already behind him. His career was one of many that stalled when silents went to the wayside. Novarro worked here and there throughout the decades, but never regained the star status he had in the 1920′s.

 

clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind

Following the celebration in Marietta, there are  a few more events in the coming months celebrating Gone with the Wind’s 75th Anniversary:

The 75th Anniversary edition Blu Ray will be available Sept. 30. The transfer is the same as the 70th and so is most of the content, aside from a documentary “Old South/New South” which compares Civil War locations then and now. For a while i heard rumblings of both a new Gable documentary and a new Leslie Howard one on the set, but alas it does not appear to be. It does include a music box and a replica of Rhett Butler’s “RB” handkerchief (yes, I’m serious.) More info here.

 

The Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas is hosting what should be a fabulous new exhibition displaying the largest collection of original costumes from the film (including the green curtain dress!) as well as storyboards, production records, production stills and much more. The center is also home to David O. Selznick’s personal papers. The exhibition is running September 9, 2014 through January 4, 2015.  More info here. 

The Clark Gable Foundation in Cadiz, Ohio is hosting an event, tentatively schedule for the end of September. The only info I have for right now is that they will be showing the film. Hopefully details will be released soon.

Watch the Facebook page for more details as I receive them!

I’m hoping more and more events pop up as the year progresses!

clark gable

A fan’s poem from 1933:

Judgement Day

There’s the rush and roar of many feet–

Young maids, old maids, sour and sweet.

They’re clamoring, they’re yammering,

They are glad that they are born,

For romance is resurrected

When Clark Gable blows his horn.

~Dvoll Semay

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clark gable vivien leigh gone with the wind
This past weekend, I was among the “Windies,” taking part in the Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum‘s 75th Anniversary Celebration in Marietta, Georgia.

Three days of activities were planned and Gone with the Wind fans came out in droves…I met people from all over the country, from Italy, England and Russia. (Shout out to Kendra, Robbie and Marissa, who made the event so enjoyable for us!)

On Friday, we attended a satire play of Gone with the Wind called “The Wind Has Left,” with Patrick Curtis (toddler Beau in GWTW) as Rhett and Morgan Brittany (Vivien Leigh in “The Scarlett O’Hara Wars” and “Gable and Lombard”) as Scarlett. It was rather silly but it was supposed to be. Afterwards was a Q&A with Morgan, Patrick, Mickey Kuhn (Beau as a child) and Greg Giese (Beau and Bonnie as infants). Even though I have been to a few events with these four, they always manage to tell us something new and interesting. As a classic movie fan, I eat up Morgan’s tales of working with Alfred Hitchcock and Henry Fonda, and Mickey’s of Rosalind Russell and the set of “A Streetcar Named Desire.”

Friday night was the costume ball and the Gone with the Wind fans came out in their Civil War-era finest, with hoopskirts everywhere and Confederate uniforms too. Dinner was served and there was an auction for who got to lead the Virginia Reel with the reigning Miss Georgia (Mickey Kuhn was the winner).

Saturday I attended the Author’s Forum, which included  several authors of Gone with the Wind-related books:

Kendra Bean – Vivien: An Intimate Portrait
Phillip Done – The Charms of Miss O’Hara: Tales From Gone With the Wind & the
Golden Age of Hollywood from Scarlett’s Little Sister
Anne Edwards – Re-release: Road to Tara; Scarlett and Me; Vivien A Biography
Susan Lindsley – The Bottom Rail; Margaret Mitchell: A Scarlett or a Melanie;
Susan Myrick of Gone With the Wind: An Autobiographical Biography
David O’Connell – The Art and Life of Atlanta Artist Wilbur G. Kurtz: Inspired by
Southern History
Sally Tippett Rains – The Making of a Masterpiece: The True Story Behind Gone
With the Wind
Doug Tattershall – Belle Brezing: American Magdalene
Marianne Walker – Margaret Mitchell and John Marsh: The Love Story Behind
Gone With the Wind; The Graves County Boys
Victoria Wilcox – Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday – Inheritance Book 1;
Gone West Book 2
John Wiley – Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey From
Atlanta to Hollywood (with Ellen Brown) New book release: October 2014

Kathryn Witt – Re-release: The Secret of the Belles

On Saturday night I accompanied some other fans to the Georgian Terrace Hotel, which was the site of the premiere reception of Gone with the Wind in December 1939. (Loews Grand Theater, where the premiere took place, was down the street and burned down several years ago).

Sunday was the autograph signing, where the celebrities and authors were all available to sign their books and pictures. We always man Patrick Curtis’ table and it’s fun to see everyone and be in the middle of the crowds!

There are more events coming toward the end of the year, so that isn’t it for celebrating the 75th anniversary!

More pictures of the event can be seen on the site Facebook page.

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ria franklin gable

From February 1936:

At a party we saw Mrs. Clark Gable chatting with the ex-wife of a famous star.

“My husband didn’t play fair about alimony,” said the ex-wife. “I gave him the most dignified divorce Hollywood ever saw. I chaperoned him and his girl friend for months to avoid scandal. Now she has him when he’s on top. I worked for him during the building years.”

Mrs. Gable nodded quietly. “I know a little about building myself.”

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From Screenland magazine in December 1939, a preview of some of the scenes that were awaiting audiences!

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clark gable polly of the circus

From October 1935:

Poor Clark Gable had to stand a lot of ribbing about being prayed for by members of a church in his old hometown, and everybody wanted to know how he was “serving the devil of lust.” Clark himself has some curiousity on the subject, too.

Jack Oakie, who worked with Clark on “Call of the Wild,” was, at last reports, endeavoring to convert Clark by preaching to him, but without much success. Jack took on the duty because he took on such a long beard for the picture that he looked like a biblical patriarch.

Anyway, it may all suggest a new religious film to some producer.

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1938– a year full of suspense and speculation in regards to Gone with the Wind. Who would be Rhett? Who would be Melanie? Who would be Ashley? And especially…who will play Scarlett? To call the book a sensation would be an understatement. In three separate celebrity interviews from that year, magazines stated that young Judy Garland “spent last Christmas reading Gone with the Wind,” Deanna Durbin “has read Gone with the Wind twice!” and–the horror–”Nelson Eddy admits he has not yet read Gone with the Wind!” There was a lot at stake for this cast…

In February, Photoplay magazine reported:

Our monthly “Gone with the Wind” Department…whispers now have it that most likely Scarlett O’Hara is that new 20th Century-Fox discovery, Arleen Whelan…Selznick wants her, but so far Zanuck won’t give…judging by her photography exclusively, I’d say she is much more Scarlett than Paulette Goddard, next most rumored candidate for the role.

Arleen popped up in Motion Picture magazine too:

arleen whelan

She is the girl who was chosen, months ago, to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. And the only reason why she won’t be playing Scarlett is that the studio to which she is signed (20th Century Fox) won’t sell her contact to the studio producing the picture (Selznick International). Fifty thousand dollars were offered for her contract–and refused….

How did the Selznick-International people become interested in her–an untried newcomer at another studio?

“Sidney Howard, who wrote the script for Gone with the Wind, saw me in the Brown Derby. He thought I ‘looked like Scarlett,’ and he said he knew I was an actress ‘by the way I ate.’ I’ve been self-conscious about eating ever since. They arranged with Mr. Zanuck to test me. Then they set me to studying a Southern accent, learning how to wear those grand old Southern clothes. I’ve never enjoyed any experience so much as that. I’m still studying with the coach I had there–Gertrude Fogler.”

She isn’t breaking her heart over the impasse that prevents her from playing that other unpredictable Southern girl, Scarlett O’Hara. She told me, with a warm smile, “Everything always happens for the best.”

By March Motion Picture magazine declared:

paulette goddard gone with the wind

But by May, someone else seemed to be edging Paulette out:

We hope by the time you read this you will know more about the casting plans for “Gone with the Wind” than Hollywood does at present.

However, the  latest moves seem to indicate that Frederic March is a sure bet for Rhett with Katharine Hepburn nominated as the lucky Scarlett. But then, of course, Clark Gable and Paulette Goddard are also rumored “in the running”—STILL!

Photoplay followed that blurb up with a whole article about Katharine Hepburn being the most likely candidate for Scarlett– “What! Another Scarlett O’Hara?” In the article, they called her casting “inevitable.”

katharine hepburn scarlett ohara gone with the wind

Hepburn is Scarlett O’Hara at heart. George Cukor said in a recent interview: “Scarlett is typically Southern. That kind of woman couldn’t have happened anywhere else. She is very female and like the average woman has no abstract sense of proportion. She hasn’t much of a mind and has no nobility. Yet she has a lot of character. I know at least five woman in Hollywood and on the stage not as stupid as Scarlett, but who have her kind of temperament. They all came from the South and they have cut a wide swath.”

…Doesn’t a modern quote like this from Hepburn’s own lips sound a little as though Scarlett O’Hara might have spoken had she been a young star in Hollywood?

“I have moods,” said Miss Hepburn. “Well, they’re mine. Why should I change? If I don’t feel like having my picture taken at a tennis match, why should I? If I feel like putting my hands over my face, why shouldn’t I? Posing for pictures takes time. You know that I will not be anything but myself for anybody. Why don’t you leave me alone?”

Hollywood magazine made a case for newcomer Louise Platt (Stagecoach) who “turned down two screen tests to make the first screen test for Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind and waited six months for another Hollywood call.”

louise platt

They also gave their support to another new face, Susan Hayward. George Cukor offered her a screentest for Scarlett.

susan hayward

[Recalled Susan:]“They gave me a screentest in a Long Island studio and there must have been something about it that pleased them because they brought me to Hollywood where I was tested again and again. For some reason, never explained, they changed their minds, and I found myself in the ranks of the also-rans in the Scarlett race.”

 

Gee, I hope this whole Scarlett casting thing works out…

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