While in Austin, Texas for Fantastic Fest I got an extra treat: a visit to The Making of Gone With The Wind exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center and a personal tour by its curator of film, Steve Wilson. Attendance has been strong since the opening day three weeks ago, which I’m sure will continue through the January closing date. It’s well worth going out of your way to see this exceptional display. Even having Steve’s elaborate new book, The Making of Gone With The Wind (University of Texas Press), doesn’t diminish the excitement of seeing the rare, often unique materials on display from the University’s David O. Selznick Archives. And there is no way to understate the impact of beholding three famous Scarlett O’Hara gowns in person—all of them looking great, thanks to the conservation team at the Ransom Center.
A number of film scholars have dipped into the Selznick treasure trove over the years, notably Rudy Behlmer for his invaluable Memo from David O. Selznick volume and the late Ronald Haver for his majestic tome, David O. Selznick’s Hollywood. Because the producer saved all his letters, memoranda, paperwork, photos, production sketches and paintings, and publicity materials, there is a never-ending cornucopia of material to be examined and interpreted. (The Center houses many notable collections, from the work of celebrated stage designer Norman Bel Geddes to the papers and costumes of Robert De Niro, but Selznick’s is the largest collection by far, filling 5,000 boxes!) Wilson and his team have done a tremendous job of telling the story of how this film came about, step by step, focusing on everything from fan letters regarding casting choices to William Cameron Menzies’ elaborate visualizations of key scenes.
Here’s a promotional video about the display:
And if you don’t think you’ll get to Austin over the next few months, the Ransom Center has produced an impressive online exhibition on its website that’s well worth touring. Just click HERE.