Producer David O. Selznick predicted that his own obituary would begin "Gone With the Wind... " and though Selznick continued to make movies for another twenty-six years, 1939's Gone With the Wind was undoubtedly his greatest triumph. The unforgettable masterpiece based on Margaret Mitchell's compelling novel of the Civil War South with sterling performances by Clark Gable as the dashing Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh as the spoiled beauty, the film received ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress -- Vivien Leigh -- and Best Supporting Actress -- Hattie McDaniel, the first black to win an Oscar. Nearly three years of extensive advance publicity -- more than any other film of the time -- virtually guaranteed the success of the film. Despite the aura of excitement and anticipation, however, Gone With the Wind was almost not made. Selznick at first rejected the novel's story as too long and involved for the big screen, and passed up the movie rights. Only after a change of heart did Selznick translate the novel into the longest film made to that date -- 3 hours and 39 minutes. But it was not too long for the often critical public -- the film brought in record-breaking ticket sales. Now, over fifty years after its original release, the movie's popularity is undiminished. Gone With the Wind has become an American institution which thrills new generations the world over.
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