Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

Search Collections

Selznick International Pictures, Inc.

Inter Office Communication

TO: MBR

DATE: 11/12/38

FROM: DOS

SUBJECT:

Please note attached letter on "GONE WITH THE WIND" which handle any
way you think desirable.

The point of sending this letter to you in particular is that there is
contained in it something which worries me:

I have long felt that there is a very good chance that we have passed
up Scarlett with our cavalier attitude about a number of the girls that
have applied, through not taking sufficient pains to see personally
more of these applicants. If I had it to do over again I would schedule
a different period every day of the week to see these applicants personally,
because there is nothing so important or so potentially valuable in the
entire company as a new girl who might be playing Scarlett; and it must
always be borne in mind that these applicants are in no different position
than any stars of the screen were in only a few years back -- simply batting
their heads against the doors trying to get somebody to see them and consider
them.

I am particularly worried and upset that Price or some other of the
young dopes who hang in George's outside office - or maybe Erlanger or
somebody in Richard's office - has been stupidly turning girls down
for reasons such as the one that was given this girl: that her accent
"wasn't Southern". To begin with, I needn't say that this doesn't make
sense, because chances are about a thousand to one that whoever does play
Scarlett will not have a Southern accent until we give her one. So that
as a reason for turning somebody down, it's ridiculous and it's unfair.
It puts us in an absurd position as a studio, and on top of this, it is
a heartbreaking thing to do to anybody, for the natural thing for them to
do upon being told something of this kind, is what this girl did -- to go
to work for a period of months on a Southern accent.

This girl should be seen, if only to correct the error that was made; but
this is a matter of infinitesmal small importance by comparison with our
whole approach to this Scarlett problem and the charge of gross stupidity
to which we are open because of our indelicate and improper handling of
these applicants. It will serve us good and right if the Norma Shearer and
Katharine Hepburn of three or four years from now should turn out to be
girls who were turned away with stupid answers by Justin or Price or
Richards, girls who couldn't even get in to see Mr. Cukor or myself.

While it is almost too late, I think that for the remaining time Mr. Cukor
should set aside an hour daily during which he will interview applicants
personally. Actually, if the thing were organized properly, as many as
fifty girls could be in and out of his office in an hour. Mr. Cukor could
by exchanging two sentences with each of the girls, determine whether she
was worth chatting with further, whether she had striking looks or striking
personality or that 'something' which makes for an outstanding theatrical


Selznick International Pictures, Inc.

Inter Office Communication

TO: -2-

DATE:

FROM: SUBJECT:

personality which an expert such as Mr. Cukor could detect instantly - but
which our young and inexperienced punks cannot detect in four hours. I feel
that our failure to find a new girl for Scarlett is the greatest failure of
my entire career. I feel very keenly about it and I feel that everyone in
the company is to blame, including myself.

And for the few weeks remaining, let's be sure that we do a better job than
the messy, even stupid job we've done to date.

In the final analysis, the fault is directly traceable to my office, and I
wish, therefore, that you would immediately have Mr. Cukor read this letter
and go over with him what he personally might do in a final, last minute
attempt.

I am cutting my Bermuda trip short because I feel that I want to spend
several days in New York, and also at home, doing nothing but interview more
of these girls myself. I have felt that the finding of the girl was of such
importance to us as to warrant steering Mr. Cukor clear of other assignments,
but this is going to be wasted; I might just as well stay in Bermuda; and
Mr. Cukor might just as well be directing the WIZARD OF OZ, if both he and I
don't spend hours every single day on our casting problems. It is a terrible
reflection on all of us that in two years and with a fabulous expenditure, including
a big expensive trip South, we have found not one person for any of the
principal roles.

I think it would be a good idea if, after Mr. Cukor reads this letter, a
meeting were arranged at Mr. Cukor's convenience, to be attended by Messrs.
Ginsberg, O'Shea and Richards, at which the contents of this letter were gone
over once more and a new start made, even for the few remaining weeks.

Every other sudio in town is making new stars in pictures of comparative
unimportance, and it would be shocking if the starting date of GONE WITH THE
WIND rolls around and we have found neither a Scarlett nor an Ashley nor a
Melanie and have to resort to the Lana Turners and the other girls that have
been dug up from high schools and God knows where else by Mervyn LeRoy and
other directors, by Hal Wallis and other producers, by Max Arnow and other
casting directors.

DOS
k