vp19 (vp19) wrote in carole_and_co,
vp19
vp19
carole_and_co

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Frankly, my dear...

"I'll tell you over and over again...that 'Gone With The Wind' was one helluva spectacle, the apex of big-studio filmmaking in the Golden Age. Clark Gable made such a dashing Rhett Butler, and David O. Selznick made a great choice to play Scarlett O'Hara. It was another acting achievement for the glorious Norma Shearer..."

Oh, excuse me. I just got back from a trip to an alternate universe, where Shearer, not Vivien Leigh, played opposite Gable in the adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's sweeping novel. Hey, it must have happened somewhere, because the Los Angeles Times said so.

That's right. Seventy years ago this week, the Times announced to the world that Gable -- the public's overwhelming choice to play Rhett in the film -- was indeed selected, and that Shearer would get the highly-coveted Scarlett role. It was on the front page, though there was no byline:



Moreover, this alternate "Wind" breezes quite a bit differently than the version we know in our universe, and it's not due solely to Ms. Shearer. Here, Gerald O'Hara, Scarlett's father, is played not by Thomas Mitchell but by...



...yep, Walter Connolly, the popular character actor. It would have marked the second Gable "classic" where Connolly played the father of the heroine; the first, of course, was "It Happened One Night." But the trifecta would never have happened -- the Gallic, continental Claudette Colbert was one of the few Hollywood leading ladies not mentioned as a possible Scarlett.

Incidentally, Connolly died of a stroke in May 1940; he was only 53. An appearance in "GWTW" would have been a perfect valedictory for this fine actor.

Scarlett's first husband, Charles Hamilton, would not have been played by Rand Brooks, but by...



...Maurice Murphy, shown here with Patricia Farr in a scene from the 1934 Universal serial "Tailspin Tommy" -- the first talking, live-action serial to be based upon a comic strip. Murphy also had small parts in the likes of "The Crusades" and "Tovarich."

Then there's Carreen, Scarlett's sister. In the Times story's universe, she's not portrayed by Ann Rutherford, but instead by...



...Margaret Tallichet, who Carole Lombard had sort of a personal stake in. Lombard met Tallichet, a Dallas native, in early 1937, liked her and tried to aid her budding film career. As it turned out, she made but eight films, and only had screen credits in five (although one of them, 1940's "Stranger On The Third Floor," is deemed an early film noir).

However, Carole's work on Tallichet's behalf even enabled her to be perceived as a longshot to play Scarlett O'Hara (a part Lombard herself schemed to play, although her recent reputation as a comedic actress may have worked against her). And a few months after this article was printed, Margaret Tallichet wed director William Wyler, a marriage that lasted nearly 43 years until Wyler's death. His wife died in 1991.

Soon afterwards, after denials by David O. Selznick, it became apparent that the Times had jumped the gun. Gable was indeed eventually selected to play Rhett, but the identity of the actress playing Scarlett wouldn't be known until early 1939, when most Americans first became aware of Vivien Leigh.

In the meantime, Shearer would work with Gable, but in a quite different property...the screen adaptation of the play "Idiot's Delight," filmed near the end of 1938. It's an adequate movie, but MGM steamcleaned much of the stage work's anti-fascist angles.



Maybe in that alternate universe, there's a version of the film closer to author Robert Sherwood's intentions...
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