As an influential and important producer, David O. Selznick was involved in enough films to be considered one of the greatest producers of all time. It was his involvement in Gone with the Wind that secured him his place in cinema history.
Initially, Selznick worked for his father's company, Lewis J. Selznick Productions, until it went bankrupt in 1923. Then, in 1926, Selznick moved to MGM and worked as a script reader and assistant story editor. He climbed the ranks to become supervisor of production until he was fired because of constant disagreements with Irving Thalberg, the then head of production. In 1927, Selznick was named production chief at Paramount. After the Depression and salary cuts, he moved to RKO and worked as studio boss. When Irving Thalberg became ill, there were many changes made within MGM in the production area. Louis B. Mayer convinced Selznick to return to MGM (coincidentally, Selznick was married to Mayer's Daughter.) With his new job, Selznick was intent on bringing more prestigious films to the screen.
In 1936, Selznick left MGM to become an independent producer, founding Selznick International Pictures. Gone with the wind was his most memorable film produced at this time. There were many problems that occurred during production of the film. Among the myriad of issues was the involvement of six different directors and the relinquishment of distribution rights to MGM in order to get Clark Gable to star in the movie. In the end, Gone with the Wind won ten Academy Awards and is considered to be one of the most important films ever produced.
After a huge tax debt forced Selznick to auction off his company, he formed a new company, David Selznick Productions. Selznick now became more of a talent scout than a producer. He discovered many successful actors and actresses, including Jennifer Jones. In 1949, Selznick married Jones and gave up his independent producer status. He became "something of a joke for his obsession with his wife," producing mediocre films, certainly nowhere near the quality standards of his previous work. Although he continued to work in Hollywood his preoccupation with his wife's career forced him into the background of the industry. Despite this end to his career, David O. Selznick is a name that is "firmly planted in motion picture history." He was the biggest of independent producers at a time when there was rarely such a thing. This site reveals a detailed history of Selznick, why he is considered to be one of the greatest producers of all time, and his tremendous impact on Gone with the Wind.
It is extremely important to understand the background of a producer in considering the product he creates. Selznick's life experiences and opportunities had tremendous influence on the films he made. David O. Selznick's contributions to Gone with the Wind cannot be minimized in understanding the overall impact of the film and its success. Without him, who knows how the film might have traversed it complicated path? Gone with the Wind would certainly not have become the film as we know it today.