Selznick's Folly (Being a "Hollywood" Fairytale)

Donald Allen Kirch

Book Cover

GENRE

BIOGRAPHICAL DRAMA HISTORICAL FICTION

    Core Theme

    PERSEVERANCE

    TIME PERIOD

    1920s & '30s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    SAVING MR. BANKS, ED WOOD, THE DISASTER ARTIST

    CHARACTER LIST

    • DAVID O. SELZNICK, 36. LEAD. WORKAHOLIC, OBSESSIVE, DETERMINED, AMBITIOUS, AUDACIOUS.

    • VICTOR FLEMING, 49. GONE WITH THE WIND’S SECOND FILM DIRECTOR WHO BECAME SELZNICK’S FRIEND. STUBBORN, STRICT, TALENTED.

    • CLARK GABLE, 37. MOVIE STAR. PROFESSIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH SELZNICK. INSECURE, CHARMING, SHORT-TEMPERED.

    • VIVIEN LEIGH, 25. BRITISH ACTRESS. STUBBORN, OUTSPOKEN, ATTRACTIVE, FRANK, COURAGEOUS.

    • JOCK WHITNEY, 34. SELZNICK’S FRIEND AND FINANCIAL PARTNER. DETERMINED, ADVISOR, HONEST, SUPPORTIVE, MENTOR.

    • LOUIS B. MAYER, 54. SELZNICK’S FATHER-IN-LAW AND ANTAGONIST. SARCASTIC, HIGH-POWERED, INTRANSIGENT, COMMANDING.

    • MARGARET MITCHELL, 38. GONE WITH THE WIND’S AUTHOR. BRAVE, FEMINIST, INVENTIVE, HUMOROUS, TALENTED.

    Logline

    The fictional account of the making of "Gone With the Wind." From the early formative years of Margaret Mitchell to the story of how the film rights were purchased by David O. Selznick, and the living hell Selznick went through to create a film the world press would label "SELZNICK'S FOLLY."

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Hollywood & Atlanta

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Self Published (Why Not??? Publications)

    Year Published: 2019

    Starting Description

    Margaret Mitchell creates the literary classic "Gone With the Wind," never realizing the success the book would have. The film rights are bought by David O. Selznick, and he tries to create a film with no budget, no cast, and no idea of how to do it!

    Ending Description

    A test showing "Gone With the Wind" is shown to a "captive audience" who absolutely LOVE the movie! Through all the doubt, horrors, and financial nightmares David O. Selznick's belief in his "FOLLY" is proven. He has become a legend!

    Group Specific

    Film lovers and fans of "Gone With the Wind."

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    1657880281

    Mature Audience Themes

    Language/Profanity,Substance Abuse

    Plot - Other Elements

    Happy Ending

    Plot - Premise

    Other

    Main Character Details

    Name: David O. Selznick

    Age: 35

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Confident,Engaging,Leader,Visionary

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Once upon a time, Margaret Mitchell wrote a book… In an era long since forgotten, Producer David O. Selznick’s epic film broke new ground in every avenue of Hollywood’s old empire. It made an international star out of Vivien Leigh, and won an unprecedented ten Academy Awards! The most expensive motion picture ever made, “Gone With the Wind” was rife with one crisis after another. Despite his unflinching confidence it eventually came to be known worldwide as…SELZNICK’S FOLLY.

    Genre

    DRAMA

    Brief

    Producer David O. Selznick purchases the rights of the book "Gone with the Wind", written by Margaret Mitchell. He faces many challenges during the production of the film, due to the epic nature of the story. Despite being disbelieved by big studios, he keeps his confidence and manages to finish the movie.

    Overall Rating

    GOOD

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: GOOD

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: EXCELLENT

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: GOOD

    Theme: EXCELLENT

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    Yes, it does reflect the book properly.

    Draw of Story

    It's about one of the biggest classics of cinema history.

    Possible Drawbacks

    No. The book is well written, and the story is interesting.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    It's about the making of the film "Gone with the Wind", one of the biggest classics of the cinema history. The characters are known, which is an important engaging factor.

    Fanbase Potential

    Yes. Especially movie lovers, cinephiles, and a nostalgic audience who would like to remember the Golden Age of cinema.

    Awards Potential

    Yes, because cinema loves to celebrate its history, and also because it's a deep story of perseverance that could lead to a remarkable drama.

    Envisioned Budget

    LARGE BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    “SAVING MR. BANKS” DEALS WITH THE MAKING OF THE FILM MARY POPPINS. “ED WOOD” TELLS THE STORY OF THE FAMOUS HOMONYM B-MOVIE DIRECTOR. “THE DISASTER ARTIST” NARRATES THE STORY OF THE PRODUCTION OF THE ICONIC FILM THE ROOM.

    What’s New About the Story

    It's a different look at a well-established classic. Maybe some deeper research could improve the overall story, and make it even more interesting and complex.

    Lead Characters

    They are obstinate, passionate about their careers, and very talented. It's always good to see talented people succeed.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Not a gem, but it's somewhat unique.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Studio, Film - Streaming, TV Series - Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    CONSIDER

    Justification

    This book stands out because it’s a “based on real life” story about one of the biggest movies of all times. It definitely would draw the attention of movie lovers, and nostalgic people who like to remember the Golden Age of cinema. The characters - movies stars, producers and directors - are already known by the audience, which facilitates the engagement. However, it’s not just a historical piece about Hollywood, it’s also a story about perseverance, since not giving up before adversities is what leads Selznick to the top position as a producer. The content is also still relevant, as Gone with the Wind has been dragged into the contemporary discussion about racism in society, and the book does approach the subject. Therefore, the story can draw the attention of those interested in better understanding the polemical nature of the film and its connection to racism. The book is well written, the dialogue is good, the characters are strong.

    Brief

    When film producer David O. Selznick decides to purchase the cinematic rights of the book “Gone with the Wind,” written by the emerging author Margaret Mitchell, he couldn’t imagine the living hell he would go through, and the remarkable classic he was about to create.

    What We Liked

    - This book stands out because it’s a “based on real life” story about one of the biggest movies of all times. It definitely would draw the attention of film lovers, and nostalgic people who like to remember the Golden Age of cinema. The characters - movies stars, producers and directors - are already known by the audience, which facilitates the engagement. However, it’s not just a historical piece about Hollywood, it’s also a story about perseverance, since not giving up before adversities is what leads Selznick to the top position as a producer.
    - The content is also still relevant, as “Gone with the Wind” has been dragged into the contemporary discussion about racism in society, and the book does approach the subject. Therefore, the story can draw the attention of those interested in better understanding the polemical nature of the film and its connection to racism.
    - The book is filled with interesting and obstinate characters, and a movie adaptation would consequently focus on Selznick’s trajectory, the story of a Hollywood producer who risks his comfortable position in the industry and his entire career in order to make a film he believes could become a remarkable success.
    - Given the historical nature of the story, it could constitute an interesting source material for a miniseries filled with real-life characters and events, that would explore little-known details about the production of one of the most beloved and important movies ever made, something that would surely attract not only cinephiles, but also general audiences fascinated by the original picture and interested in getting to know more about the story of its troubled production. The casting of some of the most famous celebrities of the past, even though this is a fictional retelling of the story, would also be an additional interesting point for TV audiences.

    Synopsis

    Peggy is a curious girl who likes to listen to her mother’s stories about the Civil War, and the Old South. The content of the stories isn’t the best for a little girl, but this creates in her a taste for storytelling. As a grown up she becomes a journalist, but her love for stories still follows her. She, now self-entitled Margaret, writes “Gone with the Wind,” but still insecure about her novel, she ends up showing her work only to her husband. Fascinated by his wife’s talent, he finds a way to let the editor Harold Latham aware of the manuscript. Macmillan Company is going through some problems as the competition is tougher than ever, and a best seller would be the only way to maintain their status in the market. When Margaret discovers that her husband set up a meeting with the editor against her will, she doesn’t show any interest in showing her manuscript to Harold. Later, she is convinced that this could be her biggest chance to break into the Literary universe.

    Harold reads the manuscript, loves it, and asks for small edits to publish. Margaret feels bad about changing her protagonist’s name to Scarlett, but in the end accepts doing it. There’s a deal, and the book is released. The novel quickly becomes a success, and it draws Katherine Brown’s attention. The story editor believes the book is a good piece to be adapted by her company, Selznick International Pictures, however, the president of the company, producer David Selznick, doesn’t want to pay a lot of money for a Civil War book written by an unknown writer. She tries to convince him that it will be a huge success, but he doesn’t feel attracted to another story about the war. Katherine speaks to Jock Whitney, Selznick’s close friend and financial partner, who ends up convincing him of the good opportunity he is about to lose if he doesn’t buy the rights of the novel. Selznick does so. Margaret sells the rights of her novel for the adaptation, and Selznick starts inviting people to join the crew. Director George Cukor is the first one to be invited, then screenwriter Sidney Howards.

    As the novel succeeds more and more, other studios start to be interested in the rights as well. Selznick is a joke in the industry, as the big studios believe he is too small to make an epic movie like that. He keeps his confidence and goes after his star. Who will be Scarlett O’Hara? The search for the perfect actress seems infinite. Katherine keeps traveling to the South to look for girls who would fit the character, but can’t find anyone talented enough. Then, they start testing Hollywood stars, and end up casting Paulette Goddard. They still need the main actor, and Clark Gable seems to be the public’s favorite. Selznick knows that casting Gable is almost impossible, since the actor has a contract with MGM studios, owned by his father in law, Louis Mayer. Mayer and Selznick are competitors in the industry, and the fact Selznick married Mayer’s daughter doesn’t help. He would never ask for Mayer’s favor.
    One year has passed, and Selznick is living a nightmare. Nothing seems to be moving forward, and he notices he needs help. MGM offers more than one million plus Clark Gable to join the production. The producer doesn’t see another option and accepts it. Gable is informed he will work in Selznick’s film, and he has to be bribed to accept. Gable is afraid he will face another failure in his career, and only accepts the part because of financial issues.

    Selznick has the main casting, but no finalized script, so he decides to try to edit the script himself. Putting a thousand pages novel in a script is not an easy task, especially when the novel is a best seller, but he ends up somehow succeeding, with the help of his screenwriter. Meanwhile, Vivien Leigh, a British actress, arrives at Hollywood. Her beauty draws everyone’s attention, and Selznick is convinced she is the right person for the part. Paulette Goddard is informed she is no longer the star of the film, and the friendship between Selznick and Goddard is shaken. Two other actors join the film: Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland. Tests and rehearsals begin, and also the problems with casting and crew. While Gable and Leigh start a new friendship, Cukor, tired of the Selznick’s temper, decides to leave the project. Victor Fleming substitutes him.

    The script is still not finalized, to great costs to the studio and to Selznick’s reputation, who temporarily becomes a laughingstock. The project receives the nickname “Selznick’s Folly”. Fleming and Selznick go to screenwriter Ben Hecht to rewrite and finalize the script. He promises to do what he can. After five days of work, they manage to finalize a draft. Fleming tells Selznick that he must not interfere in the set as he did with Cukor.

    In his honeymoon with the new wife, Carole Lombard, Gable constantly worries about the picture. Back at Hollywood, he falls into a prank set up by Selznick to hide a party in celebration of the recently married couple. Meanwhile, Selznick goes to friend Jock Whitney to ask for money, to no avail. Mayer tells him he will do everything he can so Selznick fails, but he also strangely encourages him to go on trying to find backing for the picture. At last, Jock gets him a loan with a banker, the amount necessary to produce the film.

    At the chaotic set of the Atlanta invasion, Vivien Leigh is almost run over by horses, providing however a great scene for the film. Then, her husband, director and actor Laurence Olivier, has to leave to New York and Selznick doesn’t allow her to go to the airport to say goodbye. The next day, she arrives at the set with red eyes and can’t stop crying during a scene.

    After finding out about Selznick’s drug addiction, Fleming talks to Mayer and then to the producer himself, who then accuses the director of being a drunk. They fight and subsequently make peace over the matter. Then, over a fight between Leigh’s defense of a closer approach to the material source and Gable’s refusal to cry in scene, Fleming leaves the set in anger. Later, Gable tries to do the scene but ends up refusing to conclude it, since crying would be an unmanly thing to do. During another scene, Fleming loses his temper with Vivien due to her complaints about the script, hurts her and storms off the set. Selznick decides to replace him with Sam Wood. However, due to Mayer’s pressure, he manages to convince Fleming to come back to directing.

    After filming a memorable scene in which Scarlett promises to never feel hungry again, a touched Selznick tells Fleming this is the movie he is going to be remembered for. Another day, with the help of a construction crane, they film the iconic scene showing the devastation and death in Atlanta. And finally, thanks to his wife’s persuasion, Gable agrees to cry in front of the cameras. They finish the movie with the last scene between Scarlett and Rhett, which could have a problem with the Censorship Committee due to the use of the word “damn.” Selznick previews the movie at a small cinema to an unsuspecting audience, that is eager to watch it. At the end, he reflects about the immense importance the production would have for his life and his career.

    About The Author

    Donald Allen Kirch is a multi award-winning fiction author who lives in the United States. He is an avid reader of history books and Sherlock Holmes mysteries, and an enthusiast of the paranormal. Kirch is a prolific writer, and has published numerous books of varied genres.