Gone With The Wind Premiered in Atlanta on this Day in 1939
Gone With the Wind, directed by Victor Fleming and starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, premiered in Atlanta on December 15, 1939. It would go on to win Best Picture of the year, and become the highest grossing film of all time (when adjusted to today's dollars). Ticket per ticket, no other film has ever out done, nor is likely to ever out do, the economic impact of the Technicolor sensation of 1939.
Leigh had just recently read the book Gone with the Wind, and thought the role of Scarlett O'Hara was the first role for an actress that would really be exciting to bring to the screen. She subsequently sailed to America for a brief vacation. After flying to California to see her lover, Laurence Olivier, she had dinner with Myron Selznick the night that his brother, David O. Selznick, burned Atlanta on a backlot of MGM. Myron Selznick later introduced Vivien to his producer brother with the words, "Hey, genius! Meet your Scarlett.". Leigh later claimed that when she tested for Gone with the Wind, the costume was still warm from the actress who preceded her.
Clark Gable was often referred to as "The King of Hollywood" or just simply as "The King." The 1930s saw him at the peak of his acting ability and his popular appeal, as he often portrayed down-to-earth, bravado characters with a carefree attitude. He was known as the epitome of masculinity with his unmatched charm and knowing smile. In modern day, he was named the seventh greatest male star of classic American cinema by the American Film Institute. Although, author Margaret Mitchum had herself envisioned Gary Cooper for the role of Rhett Butler, there was no other actor the public had anticipated to play the pivotal role.
Regardless of best laid plans and the envisions of authors and film producers, Gone with the Wind became a land mark production, forever remembered as one of the most remarkable productions of the Golden Age of Hollywood. In fact, it is still remembered as one of the best films ever made. But don't take my word for it. Do yourself a favor and take the time (very nearly a full four hours) to see for yourself just how an English southern belle, a blue collar gentleman, and a megalomaniac producer created a cinematic spectacle to rival the best productions for decades to come.