The Hollywood classic Gone With the Wind is 75 years old this year and AMC is celebrating with an all-day marathon of the four-hour epic. If you’re a fan of the Civil War film, you probably know that the final cut of the movie was over 20,000 feet long. You’re also probably aware that Gone With the Wind is the most popular movie of all time. But here are six lesser known facts about Gone With the Wind…
1. Some of the 2,400 extras in the film went on to play iconic characters
The film featured more than 50 speaking roles and had over 2,400 extras and some of these extras would go on to play iconic characters of their own. The unseen soldier at the Atlanta hospital who reminisces about his brother Jeff was played by Cliff Edwards, who would go on to voice Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio. Even non-human cameos proved to be famous: the horse that Gerald O’Hara (Thomas Mitchell) rides went on to become Silver from The Lone Ranger.
2. Gone With the Wind is not the first film to use the word “damn”
Many have heard that Gone With the Wind stirred up quite a bit of censorship controversy with Rhett’s famous line, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” but in truth, the word “damn” was used quite often on the intertitles of earlier silent films and some talkies. Plus, a month before Gone With the Wind‘s premiere, the censor office allowed the words “hell” and “damn” if they were required to adapt a historical or literary work.
3. The fire scene was filmed by every Technicolor camera ever made
In 1939, only seven Technicolor cameras existed, and all seven were used to film the Atlanta blaze. The crew burned many old sets from previous movies as kindling. The flames covered 40 acres of land and rose to over 500 feet high. It took the crew over 15,000 gallons of water to put the fire out. The fire ended up costing $25,000 and produced 113 minutes of film.
4. An original working title for the novel was Ba! Ba! Black Sheep!
Margaret Mitchel had a number of working titles for Gone With the Wind, most notably Ba! Ba! Black Sheep! but also Tomorrow is Another Day, Not in Our Stars, Bugles Sang True and Tote the Weary Load. She finally landed on Gone With the Wind when she was inspired by a line in Ernest Dowson’s poem Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae Sub Regno Cynarae: “”I have forgot much Cynara! Gone with the wind.”
5. The film’s first audience preview was a complete secret
When the film had it’s first public screening, no one in the audience knew what they were about to see until the moment the movie began. As the story goes, the theater’s manager wanted to call his wife to tell her to come to the theater right away– but he wasn’t allowed to say why. When the film began, the audience started cheering with excitement.
6. The governor of Georgia declared the premiere date a statewide holiday
When Gone With the Wind premiered in Atlanta on December 13, 1939, the governor declared a statewide holiday and prepared to call out the National Guard. The mayor of Atlanta also proclaimed a three-day festival in which attendees were encouraged to wear period clothes. When the stars of the film swept through the procession in limousines, 300,000 Atlantans and visitors lined the streets for seven miles just to watch.
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