Culture & Literature
LIFE Gone With The Wind

LIFE Gone With The Wind

LIFE Gone With The Wind

Eighty years after America fell in love with the cinematic classic Gone with the Wind, this new, special edition revisits the making of the award-winning movie and gives readers a rare look into the film's captivating, behind-the-scenes drama. This richly illustrated book is a must-have collector's item for old fans and new. Originally chronicled in the pages of LIFE, you'll find the travails of getting the movie made in the 1930s (1,400 actresses interviewed before Vivien Leigh was chosen; Selznick waited two years for Clark Gable to sign on to the project), the frenzy of its premiere, and much more. All of this coverage is revisited in this lavish coffee-table edition, which also includes behind-the-scenes photography from the set, stunning pictures of the famed burning of Atlanta scene, as well as all of the fascinating, intimate photography from the making of the movie. Furthermore, LIFE partnered with renowned southern authors to provide insight into the influence of the book and film on American culture and present a side-by-side chronicle of what Gone with the Wind claims, and what really happened during the Civil War. Informative, intriguing, and beautifully illustrated, this book is one for the ages.

United States
Meredith Corporation
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$22.30(Incl. tax)

in this issue

8 min.

SCARLETT O’HARA FAMOUSLY VOWED that she would lie, steal, cheat or kill to survive. And just like its heroine, Gone with the Wind has shown remarkable resilience. Eighty later, the film remains a fixture in popular culture. Its iconic status is more secure than ever, thanks to television, DVDs, parodies and revivals that roll around as regularly as national holidays. Just as amazingly, Margaret Mitchell’s 1,037-page novel has been in print since it became a best-seller in 1936, its life extended by a prequel, a sequel—and, of course, the movie. The story of a small corner of the South in the 19th century, a war movie with no battle scenes, revolving around a heroine of questionable morals, has proved uncannily adept at crossing barriers of geography and time. The poster of…

3 min.
olivia de havilland looks back

Q: Why do you think Gone with the Wind continues to mean so much to people all around the world? A: Because the film’s theme is universal: conflict, defeat and renaissance. Countries and people around the globe have also experienced struggle, devastation and recovery. Q: The filming was notoriously difficult, between the changing of directors, the reworking of the script and the sheer size and scope of the project. Did it feel difficult when you were making it? A: Throughout all the difficulties which beset the making of GWTW, our producer David Selznick’s unshakable faith in the film prevailed. He was extraordinary. His strength became our strength, supporting us in every crisis. Q: What was the most challenging aspect? A: The change of directors from George Cukor, under whose direction Vivien and I had formed…

13 min.
it began with the book

MARGARET MUNNERLYN MITCHELL arrived on November 8, 1900, on the cusp of the new century. She was born in her maternal grandmother’s home in Atlanta’s Jackson Hill; it was an elegant Victorian that had somehow escaped the ravages of General William T. Sherman and the Union Army in November 1864. Had she not been born in Atlanta—the resilient, brash, striving Southern city deeply scarred by war but muscling its way back to health—it’s likely Gone with the Wind would never have been written, so intertwined were the spirits of the author and her hometown. Mitchell’s family was prominent: Her mother, Maybelle Stephens Mitchell, was a rally-organizing suffragist who served as president of the Georgia Equal Suffrage League; her father, Eugene Mitchell, was a successful attorney. Mitchell’s was not a conventional childhood.…

5 min.
southern voices

IT WAS MY MOTHER’S favorite novel. She didn’t go to college, and it was the first book she ever read to me. I was five or six, and my father was in the Korean War. She was in the crowd that lined the streets for the premiere. She always remembered seeing Clark Gable, Carole Lombard. Scarlett’s—Vivien Leigh’s—date was Laurence Olivier. When we lived in Atlanta, she showed me where Margaret Mitchell was run over by a car. She could show me where Gone with the Wind was written. She would take me to the grave of Margaret Mitchell and we’d say the rosary there. This was my connection to what great literature could do to an uneducated woman out of the South who identified totally, coming out of the Great…

16 min.
the rocky road to tara

KATHARINE BROWN WAS one of David O. Selznick’s most trusted employees. Her job—and it was a 24-hour-a-day one—was to scour New York’s publishing circles and sniff out unproduced properties that her hard-driving boss could spin into box-office gold. As the mercurial, 34-year-old movie mogul’s official East Coast story editor and unofficial gal Friday/arbiter of good taste, Brown needed to have lightning-quick instincts and the thick hide of an elephant. After all, Selznick was notoriously demanding and infamous for his short-fused three a.m. phone calls. It wasn’t easy keeping pace with a mind that whirred as feverishly as Selznick’s. But Brown was one of the few movie executives who could keep up. On the afternoon of May 20, 1936, she fired off an urgent Teletype to her employer. The message read: “…have…

5 min.
the search for scarlett

In the summer of 1936, as Gone with the Wind snowballed into a literary sensation, David O. Selznick came up with a Barnum-esque plan to keep his film adaptation on the public’s fickle radar: He manufactured a swirl of hype and hoopla by urging people to write in and cast their votes for who should play Scarlett O’Hara. By late 1936, he had received 75,000 letters. The earliest tally had Bette Davis (bottom left) in the lead, followed by Katharine Hepburn (center left), Miriam Hopkins, Joan Crawford (top left), Margaret Sullavan and Barbara Stanwyck. The response was so overwhelming, Selznick realized that no matter whom he cast, he would disappoint some fans. Maybe, he thought, the solution was to find an unknown. So in November 1936, he sent his East Coast story…