De Havilland, Olivia. “Making a Classic by Committee.” Newsweek. 19 July 1999. EBSCO MegaFILE, 1 Dec. 2008. < http://proxy.library.upenn.edu:2054/login.aspx?direct=true&db=keh&AN=2058091&site=ehost-live>
In this article, actress Olivia de Havilland (Melanie Wilkes) provides a first hand account of the rotation of directors that worked on the film production of Gone With the Wind. Production of the epic film began under the leadership of director George Cukor, who was held in high regard by the lead actresses Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O’Hara) and de Havilland. According to de Havilland, lead actor Clark Gable (Rhett Butler) prompted the sudden replacement of Cukor with Victor Fleming. Fleming, a “master of action and spectacular scenes,” worked with Gable on a number of projects before the production of Gone With the Wind. Gable sought out Fleming in an effort to help him develop the character of Rhett Butler. The American public had a clear idea of Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s novel, therefore Gable’s Hollywood career hinged on his success in his role. Realizing the importance of his leading role in Gone With the Wind, Gable demanded that Fleming replace Cukor at the helm of production. However, Cukor continued to hold meeting with de Havilland and Leigh in secret to coach the actresses.
One month after joining the crew of Gone With the Wind, Fleming suffered a nervous breakdown that prompted him to take a leave of absence from the set. Sam Wood, his replacement, filled in for Fleming until he was well enough to return. Upon regaining his health, Fleming was reinstated by Selznick to co-direct the remainder of the epic alongside Wood.
As one of the most ambitious and extensive cinematic projects of the 20th Century, it is only fitting that Gone With the Wind is the product of the talents of three of Hollywood’s leading directors. It is inevitable that each director provided the film with a unique understanding of Mitchell’s novel, and their own perception of how the “old south” should be depicted. The historical accuracy of the film, therefore, cannot be assessed based on the beliefs of Seznick, Cukor, Fleming, and Wood individually, as the project was a collaborative effort.