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The Barbeque Scene The Atlanta Bazaar


Mr. R.A. Klune cc: Mr. Fleming

3/13/39

A brief visit to the set this afternoon disappointed me in the costumes of the
four girls walking down the the great staircase. The costumes have no real beauty,
especially as to color. I discussed this with Plunkett and Lambert and found
that the technicolor experts have been up to their old tricks of putting all
sorts of obstacles in the way of real beauty.

The costumes of the picture, and the sets also, should have dramatized much more
than we have done to date, and much less than I hope they will do in future,
the changing fortunes of the people with whom we are dealing. The first part
of the picture - especially the sequences at Twelve Oaks - have been so neutralized
that there will be no dramatic point made by the drabness of the costumes through
the whole second half of the picture. We should have seen beautiful reds and
blues and yellows and greens in costumes so designed that the audience would have
gasped at their beauty and would have felt a really tragic loss when it saw the
same people in the made-over and tacky clothes of the war period. The third part
of the picture should, by its colors alone, dramatize the difference between
Scarlett and the rest of the people - Scarlett extravagantly and colorfully
costumed against the drabness of the other principals and of the extras.

I am hopeful that this will be corrected in such things as the bazaar re-take. I
am aware that the former scene at the bazaar looked like a cheap picture post-
card in its color values - but this was because we were foolish enough to over-
dress the set so that it looked cheap and garish, instead of neutralizing the
set as to its color values, so that it was obviously an armory and playing
against this the beauty of the costumes which gave us a marvelous opportunity
for beautiful colors against the set which obviously gave us no opportunities.
The shots that Mr. Fleming has in mind on the waltz will fulfill their complete
promise of beauty only if the costumes are lovely and colorful - so that Scarlett's
black is a complete contrast and so that the colors of the costumes of the others
are a complete contrast with the neutral colors that we should see as the war
goes on, and in fact throughout the entire picture Twelve Oaks and the bazaar
were, and to a degree still are, our only opportunities for beautiful color for
the entire race of people we are portraying in the entire film. In the last
part we have only the opportunity of Scarlett.

We should have learned by now to take with a pound of salt much of what is said
to us by the technicolor experts. I cannot conceive how we could have been
talked into throwing away opportunities for magnificent color values in the
face of our own rather full experience in technicolor, and in the face particularly
of such experiences as the beautiful color values we got out of Dietrich's costumes
in "The Garden of Allah," thanks to the insistence of Dietrich and Dryden, and
despite the squawks and prophesies of doom from the technicolor experts. The
color values of the costumes that she wore in the picture itself, and in some


Mr. Klune -page 2-

3/13/39

of the sequences which had to be eliminated for dramatic reasons (not for color
reasons),in such secnes as the honeymoon dissolve, have not been equaled by any
of our costumes that I have seen on the screen or in sketch form, despite the
fact that the period of the opening sequences of "Gone With The Wind", and of
Scarlett's costumes in the last part of the picture, gives us much greater
opportunity than did the costumes of the "Garden of Allah." Further, the color
values of "The Garden of Allah" had no comparable dramatic significance, whereas
the proper telling of our story involves a dramatic and changing use of color
as the period and the fortunes of the people change.

Examine the history of color pictures: The one thing that is still talked about
in "Becky Sharp" is the red capes of the soldiers as they went off to Waterloo.
What made "Cucaracha" a success, and did so much for the technicolor company,
were the colors as used by Jones for his costumes. The redeeming feature of
"Vogues" was the marvelous use of color in the women's styles. The best thing
about the "Follies" was the beautiful way in which colors of sets and costumes
were blended, as in the ballet.

I am the last one that wants in any scene a glaring and unattractive riot of
color - and I think I was the first to insist upon neutralizing of various color
elements, particularly of sets, so that the technicolor process would not obtrude
on dramatic scenes, but I certainly never thought that this would reach the point
where a sharp use of color for dramatic purposes would be completely eliminated;
nor did I ever feel that we were going to throw away the opportunity to get
true beauty in a combination of sets and costumes.

Presumably Bill Menzies is sufficient of an artist to so blend the colors that
the scenes won't look like Italian weddings and so that where we use striking
color it will be used as effectively as Dietrich's costumes against the drab
sand, or as the Zorina ballet. If we are not going to go in for lovely combi-
nations of set and costume and really take advantage of the full variety of
colors available to us, we might just as well have made the picture in black
and white. It would be a sad thing indeed if a great artist had all violent
colors taken off his palette for fear that he would use them so clashingly as
to make a beautiful painting impossible.

Neutral colors certainly have their value, and pastel colors when used properly
make for lovely scenes, but this does not mean that an entire picture - and the
longest picture on record - has to deal one hundred percent in neutral colors,
or pastel shades. This picture is particular gives us the opportunity occaisionally -
as in our opening scenes and as in Scarlett's costumes - to throw a violent dab
of color at the audience to sharply make a dramatic point.

I know from talking to Walter Plunkett that no one feels as badly about the


Mr. Klune -page 3-

3/13/39

limitations that have been imposed upon him as he does. But if we are going to
listen entirely to the technicolor experts, we might as well do away entirely
with the artists that are in our own set and costume departments and let the
technicolor company design the picture for us. The result will be the cheap
and unimpressive pictures that have been made in color by contrast with new and
startling color combinations such as we achieved in "The Garden of Allah" and
such as I had hoped we were going to vastly improve upon in "Gone With The Wind."

I wish you would take steps immediately to give Menzies, Wheeler and Plunkett
more liberty as to their color combinations. I have previously indicated that
I want Menzies to be responsible for the color values of the picture and I hope
that he will have more courage in this regard and will go after color combina-
tions that are superior to those obtained thus far.

I planned on sending copies of this note to the various department heads involved,
but I think it would be preferable for you to call a meeting,to be attended also
by the technicolor experts, and read this memo. I have tried for three years
now to hammer into this organization that the technicolor experts are for the
purpose of guiding us technically on the stock and not for the purpose of
dominating the creative side of our pictures as to sets, costumes, or anything
else.

DOS

dos*f



Plunkett Biography | Plunkett Filmography |
Reproductions of the Dresses | Selznick Memo of March 13,1939 |
Note to Accompany the Preliminary Wardrobe Breakdown


| Costumes and Makeup Table of Contents |

| "Gone With The Wind" Table of Contents |

| Film Collection |


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