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    Producer David O. Selznick's Historic Gone with the Wind Screenplay and Research Archive (MGM, 1939). This archive represents the genesis, hard fought development, and production of one of the greatest films in cinema history, Gone with the Wind. It includes some of the earliest preproduction, developmental, and production materials spanning from 1936 through the making of the masterpiece, which was released in 1939. Here you'll find initial concepts, early drafts of the screenplay, materials on costumes and characters, continuity and dialog. Chief among these enlightening materials are the multiple versions of the evolving script, which went through many iterations and contributing writers.

    Before Margaret Mitchell's epic novel was even published, Hollywood heavyweights were considering its big screen adaptation. Many major executives and studios declined to create a film based on it, including Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg at MGM, Pandro Berman at RKO Pictures, and David O. Selznick of Selznick International Pictures. Jack Warner liked the story, but Warner Bros. biggest star of the day, Bette Davis, was uninterested. Darryl Zanuck of 20th Century-Fox did not offer enough money. Selznick changed his mind after his story editor Kay Brown and business partner John Hay Whitney urged him to buy the film rights. So, in July 1936, a mere month after it was published, Selznick bought the rights for $50,000. The monumental production of Gone with the Wind was troubled from the start. Actual filming was delayed for two years due to producer Selznick's determination to secure Clark Gable for the role of Rhett Butler and the extensive search for the perfect actress to play Scarlett O'Hara, which led to the highly publicized consideration of some 1,400 women including Jean Arthur, Tallulah Bankhead, Joan Bennett, Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward, Lana Turner and practically every up-and-coming young actress of the day.

    The original screenplay was written by playwright Sidney Howard (Condemned, Raffles, They Knew What They Wanted) and underwent many revisions by a variety of writers in an attempt to pare it down to suitable length.
    "The treatment [Sidney] Howard sent to Selznick in December 1936...would be the basis of David O. Selznick's production of Gone with the Wind. But not until [it and the 1937 first draft of the screenplay] had been buried under an avalanche of scripts, rewrites, and suggestions by [ten other screenwriters] and then by Selznick himself." - Aljean Harmetz, On the Road to Tara: The Making of Gone with the Wind (NY: Harry N. Abrams, 1996), p. 31.

    Howard submitted his completed first draft to Selznick in February 1937. He stayed on the payroll the rest of the year, revising his work over and over again. Howard's August 1937 draft was the result of working with
    then-director George Cukor. "We have somewhere between two and three weeks work remaining to clean up script of Gone with the Wind," wrote an over-optimistic Selznick at this point. By the time Howard left Selznick's employ in early 1938, having produced a total of five or six drafts, Selznick wasn't even close to having the script he wanted.
    Screenplay To and Inc. INT. BAZAAR dated 8/18/37. Sidney Howard. 45-pages of carbon typescript pinned in original typewritten blue wraps.

    Selznick struggled with the Howard material throughout much of 1938. As the starting date of January 15, 1939 (later postponed) rapidly approached, Selznick faced a dilemma. He had "four drawers of a filing cabinet filled with script materials, [but] he didn't have a script" (Harmetz, p.47). That fall, Selznick spent several fruitless weeks in Bermuda working with writer Jo Swerling (Blood and Sand, It's a Wonderful Life), and Barbara Keon, ultimately credited on the film as "Scenario Assistant." Meanwhile, another writer, Bradbury Foote (The Bride Wore Red, Young Tom Edison), prepared a complete screenplay draft of his own. Though Foote's script, by all accounts, satisfied no one, he added to Gone with the Wind lore by being the only writer to provide the film with a happy ending
    (Scarlett and Rhett ride off in a train together).

    In November, Selznick engaged the services of Oliver H.P. Garrett (A Farewell to Arms, Manhattan Melodrama). They worked to "cobble together" a script from Howard's many attempts. The resulting 244-page screenplay,
    mimeographed and dated January 16, 1939, is included in this archive. On the cover is printed the following, "This script is FINAL as to general continuity, sets, and the cast. It is over length and TEMPORARY as to dialogue; also TEMPORARY as to business, camera angles, etc..." Unpublished, it is the draft used by Cukor when production commenced on January 26, and the draft that led to the shutdown of production a mere two-and-a-half weeks later.

    Screenplay dated 1/16/39. Sidney Howard and Oliver H. P. Garrett. George Cukor is listed as Director. 244-mimeographed pages in original printed yellow wraps. Selznick desperately tried to make the Howard-Garrett screenplay work. Revisions were produced throughout January and February by a roster of writers that included John Balderston, Edwin Justus Mayer, Winston Miller, John Van Druten, Michael Foster, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Even these notables were not able to satisfy Selznick. On February 13, the announcement was made that George Cukor was leaving and that production would be halted until a new director took over. Victor Fleming was Selznick's choice, and, sharing his predecessor's negative opinion of the script, he sat down to work on it with Selznick
    and another new writer, John Lee Mahin (Show Boat, Quo Vadis, The Bad Seed). Mahin was a friend as well as the screenwriter of four of Fleming's pictures. His advice to Selznick was to go back to Sidney Howard's script. This wasn't what the producer wanted to hear, and it resulted in Mahin's early dismissal. Selznick finally turned to his trusted friend Ben Hecht (Notorious, Wuthering Heights, Underworld).

    After a detailed recounting by Selznick of Margaret Mitchell's story, Hecht, who had not read the novel, responded by telling the producer that a successful film could not be made from such a complicated tale without a workable plot to follow. This advice drew Selznick back to Sidney Howard's original treatment (Mahin had been fired for suggesting this), which he read for the writer. "We listened to a precise and telling narrative of Gone with the Wind," was how Hecht described this experience in his autobiography, A Child of the Century. The enthusiastic return to Howard's conception of the film yielded a new script by Hecht and the resumption of shooting on March 2.

    Nevertheless, rewrites would continue throughout filming and included a final month's work on the picture by Howard himself. Pages were added and subtracted on a daily basis. Near the end of production, Selznick gathered
    together those pages that had made the cut and produced a final shooting draft. Though these scripts are dated January 24, 1939, they were actually printed much later in the year. Several of these shooting scripts were bound in hardcover and presented to select cast and crewmembers, with the recipient's name embossed on the cover. Though quite glamorous to look at, they are not working scripts, per se. Present here is a mimeographed copy of the above in the original printed wraps. An equally "clean" and arguably more correct printed form for the final product is the Cutting Continuity, which is present here in a mimeographed copy dated December 9, 1939, just six days prior to the film's gala premiere in Atlanta. Another additional component of the screenplay included in the archive is a 10-page 2nd Unit Script dated April 14, 1939. It consists primarily of exterior scenes set at the Tara and Twelve Oaks plantations.

    Final Shooting Script dated 1/24/39. Sidney Howard. 256-numbered pages, plus 2-unnumbered pages listing cast and crew. Mimeographed and pinned in original printed yellow wraps. Dialogue Cutting Continuity dated 12/9/39. Film Editor Hal C. Kern. 209-mimeographed pages pinned in original printed yellow wraps.

    (2nd Unit) Shooting Script dated 4/14/39. Chester Franklin is listed as Director and Ralph Slosser as Assistant Director (neither received screen credit). 10-mimeographed pages pinned in original printed salmon wraps.
    Selznick loved to generate paper. "His determination to be faithful to the novel and his disorganization [were] deadly. He had breakdowns made of the book and collated them with each screenplay." (Hametz, p.39). Present in the archive are several of these breakdowns, including three by Selznick story editor, Franclien Macconnell, that predate Sidney Howard's first treatment.

    Chapter Breakdown dated 10/26/36. Franclein Macconnell. 24-mimeographed pages pinned without wraps.
    Data on Characterization - Costumes & Settings dated 11/4/36. Franclein Macconnell. 70-mimeographed pages pinned in original printed blue wraps.

    Breakdown of Novel and Synopsis dated 11/28/36. Franclein Macconnell. 57-mimeographed pages pinned in original printed blue wraps. Work of this nature continued throughout the development of the picture. One-line Continuity of Nov. 27, 1937 script dated 7/7/38. 13-mimeographed pages pinned in original printed yellow wraps.
    Recapitulation dated 11/8/38. Bradbury Foote. 23-pages of carbon typescript stapled in original typewritten blue wraps. Comparison between Foote's November 8 screenplay and Sidney Howard's draft dated November 27, 1937.
    Topical Dialogue Breakdown According to Characters dated 11/29/38. 127-mimeographed pages pinned in original printed blue wraps.

    Continuity Outline dated 12/3/38. Barbara Keon. 44 mimeographed pages pinned in original printed blue wraps.
    Dialogue Breakdown According to Topics (from Novel) dated 12/4/38. 40-mimeographed pages plus an additional 4-page index pinned in original printed yellow wraps.

    Group Dialogue Breakdown dated 3/25/39. 25-pages of carbon typescript stapled in original typewritten salmon wraps. With the exception of the Final Shooting Script, all of this material, comprising nearly 1200-typed or mimeographed pages, is unpublished.

    An extraordinary, revealing collection of unparalleled depth from one of the cinema's greatest achievements. The breadth and scope of the archive is impossible to convey in this auction catalog. Indeed, the content is worthy of an entire scholarly book on the subject. The importance of this developmental archive cannot be overstated. Worthy of inclusion in the finest collections of the history of cinema. COA from Heritage Auctions.


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