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GWTW Fever in Austin, Texas

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.

One of numerous hair and makeup test photos in the exhibit. (Courtesy David O. Selznick Collection, Harry Ransom Center)

One of numerous hair and makeup test photos in the exhibit. (Courtesy David O. Selznick Collection, Harry 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.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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