Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Ghosts Haunt "Gone With The Wind" Revival

Cleveland Press October 27, 1967

Most of the people involved are dead and, as time passes, one event is likely to loom largest in the memories the public has of them -- their participation in the 1939 movie, "Gone With the Wind."

Clark Gable, subject of today's Showtime cover, was Rhett Butler in that movie, and that's the way most people will recall him He did not win an Academy Award for that role, although most everyone else in "Gone With The Wind" did. His Oscar was for the earlier "It Happened One Night."

Gable died at 59 in 1960. He was 38 when he played Butler and was undoubtedly in his prime as an actor. It was the casting of Gable that has allowed MGM to have "Gone With The Wind" as a sizable annuity to return to now and then.

David 0. Selznick was an independent producer and he owned the film rights to "Gone With the Wind." What he didn't own was Clark Gable, who was under ironclad contract to MGM and there was no one else Selznick wanted for Rhett Butler. So MGM came in as a partner and distributor in return for Gable's services, later bought out Selznick's interest and now makes all the profit.

SELZNICK DIED IN 1965. Vivien Leigh, who won an Oscar playing Scarlett O'Hara, died July 8, 1967. Leslie Howard, Ashley Wilkes in the movie, was on an airliner believed to have been shot down by the Germans June 1,1943. Thomas Mitchel], who portrayed Gerald O'Hara, died in 1962 at the age of 70. Hattie McDaniel, Oscar winner for her role as Scarlett's mammy, was 57 when she died in 1952.

Director Victor Fleming passed away in 1949 after filming "Joan of Arc" with Ingrid Bergman. Screenwriter Sidney Howard was killed by a tractor the year the movie came out. The book's author, Margaret Mitchell, died in 1949, a few days after being hit by a cab.

Only Olivia de Havilland of the principals remains alive. She played Melanie was 23 at the time, best known prior to that as the leading lady for Errol Flynn in such swashbucklers as "Captain Blood" and "Robin Hood."

"Gone With The Wind" won 10 Oscars that year. Cost of production was $3,200,000 and estimates of making such a movie today range upward of $15,000,000. Margaret Mitchell was paid $50,000 for her novel.

(Warner Bros. paid $5,500,000 for screen rights to "My Fair Lady," must also pay a percentage of the profits and retains no rights in the film after 1970)

THIS IS THE SIXTH TIME AROUND for the movie, the first time it will play a reserved seat engagement. For this MGM has a gimmick -- reprocessing the print on 70mm for for super-wide projection and doing some electronic fussing with the soundtrack to create stereophonic sound. Added cost -- $250,000.

"Gone With The Wind" will open at the Shaker Theater Thursday evening. This is one of 88 theaters in the country which will play the new version. The movie was the top moneymaker until "Sound of Music" came along, may return to that place again.

MGM points out one big difference in compiling box office figures "Sound" has always played at higher prices, "GWTW" opened when the top admission price was around $1, for all three hours and 45 minutes. You got a lot of movie for a buck in those days.