Almost 80 years after it was released, the sweeping Civil War-era romance Gone With the Wind remains the definition of a Hollywood classic.
But while fans love this movie, by all accounts making it was an absolutely awful trial. From the very beginning, turning Margaret Mitchell’s 1,000 page novel into a movie was a total headache. It took 16 writers just to trim down the story, and their first draft ran for at least six hours.
To finish the script in time to start shooting, producer David O. Selznick had to lock himself, director Victor Fleming and writer Ben Hecht in an office for a week. He also insisted they should only eat bananas and peanuts (since the diet would motivate them).
They did finish the script, but Selznick collapsed from exhaustion and Fleming burst a blood vessel in his eye before the week was through.
Casting the lead role of Scarlett O’Hara was even tougher. Producers tested 32 actresses, and only settled on Vivian Leigh after filming began. Fans of the book were actually upset – since Leigh is a Brit and not a real Southern belle.
To silence a protest from the United Daughters of the Confederacy, producers threatened to cast Katharine Hepburn, a Yankee, instead.
And once filming began, the real feuds and fights started…