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Memo from David O. Selznick : The Creation of "Gone with the Wind" and Other Motion Picture Classics, as Revealed in the Producer's Private Letters, Telegrams, Memorandums, and Autobiographical Remarks Paperback – March 7, 2000


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Memo from David O. Selznick : The Creation of "Gone with the Wind" and Other Motion Picture Classics, as Revealed in the Producer's Private Letters, Telegrams, Memorandums, and Autobiographical Remarks + Producer to Producer: A Step-By-Step Guide to Low Budgets Independent Film Producing + Shooting to Kill: How an Independent Producer Blasts Through the Barriers to Make Movies that Matter
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Movies
  • Paperback: 632 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Modern Library pbk. ed edition (March 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375755314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375755316
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.6 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

As Roger Ebert observes in his smart introduction to the collected memos of the legendary producer Selznick, this is no ordinary book. Buzzed on Benzedrine, Selznick dictated his every thought to secretaries from 1916-1965, 2,000 file boxes' worth of priceless, absolutely unique inside information. "What we're given is a seat in his office," Ebert says, "the Nixon tapes of Hollywood's golden age." It's a privilege to see Selznick tussle with Hitchcock (who evidently had a notion about a vaguely Psycho-like grandma in the first draft of Rebecca), Ingrid Bergman (to whom he dictated an amazing tantrum), and Tallulah Bankhead ("Would you care to brave the lioness' den?" he asks his secretary, suggesting that she contact Bankhead about a bit part after spurning her for the Scarlett part in Gone with the Wind). The gestation of Scarlett's flick is especially fascinating. At first, Selznick cautions director George Cukor about "not going overboard on size and expensive production scenes of the civil war," but with Selznick, things always tend to get bigger. To battle bigotry, he cuts the Ku Klux Klan from the film ("Of course we might have shown a couple of Catholic Klansmen, but it would be rather comic to have a Jewish Kleagle.") By the end, he's pulling out the stops--he urges the composer to "go mad with schmaltz in the last three reels." Selznick blows it sometimes: he nixes newcomers Gregory Peck and Burt Lancaster, and John Ford's Stagecoach, which created John Wayne. But by reading his memos, you can't fail to see what made him a true auteur.

All hail Martin Scorsese for editing the classic film-books series of which this is a part, Modern Library: The Movies. Even if he'd never directed, Scorsese would be God's gift to film history. --Tim Appelo

From the Inside Flap

"The most revealing, penetrating book on filmmaking I know of . . ."--King Vidor

David O. Selznick was a unique figure in the golden Hollywood studio era. He produced some of the greatest and most memorable American films ever made--notably, Rebecca, A Star Is Born, Anna Karenina, A Farewell to Arms, and, above all, Gone With the Wind. Selznick's
absolute power and artistic control are evidenced in his impassioned, eloquent, witty, and sometimes rageful memos to directors, writers, stars and studio executives, writings that have become almost as famous as his films. Newsweek wrote,"I can't imagine how a book on the American movie business could be more illuminating, more riveting or more fun to read than this collection of David Selznick's memos.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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For anyone who likes old movies a must.
Ken Braithwaite
Humorous and fast-paced, these memos give a good picture of the man and his methods.
Kitkatdiva
David O. Selznick was behind some the films considered classics from that era.
"philipstine"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ken Braithwaite on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was a bit leery of a book of just memoes but ... This is truly an extraordinary book, full of insights into every aspect of film making. The most interesting parts are about scripts and script construction. That was what Selznick had a genius for, and that comes through clearly. Some of his faults come through too. There are a number of memoes about his life and emotions so you get a picture a man not just an executive.
For anyone who likes old movies a must.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Herbert Boomhower on April 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's a genuine pleasure to see this 1972 volume back in print again. Practically the entire history of classic Hollywood can be seen within the pages of this fascinating series of memos, a veritable stream of behind the scenes trivia and the most impressive book of name-dropping ever seen in print. The cinematic genius of Selznick and Company is told as only it should be told...in the Master's own words.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By "philipstine" on March 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
David O. Selznick was behind some the films considered classics from that era. He was known for his memos that he sent to others in the industry and those working for him. The book is a fascinating look at the studio system at the time - and is also a reminder that people at one time actually communicated in writing - no cell phones, no email. This book is a must-read for those interested at all in film lore - and it's a great read!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
David O. Selznick (1902-65) along with agent brother Myron was the son of a Hollywood mogul who went bust. Selnick rose to prominence at the RKO and Paramount studios. He was a producer of genius who provided excellent product to the movie masses. Selznick later labored at MGM under the oversight of Irving Thalberg and his father in law the formidable Louis B. Mayer. Selznick was married to Irene Meyer Seznick until 1949. In 1949 he married Jennifer Jones the Oscar winninig actress and former wife of actor Robert Walker.
Selznick, of course, will always be chiefly known for his production of "Gone With the Wind" one of the greatest movies ever made. The 1939 blockbuster took a year to make as Selznick high on benzadrine worked 18-20 hours a day on the film. He was a perfectionist who knew GWTW would be his chief legacy. Selznick used three directors on the film including George Cukor, Sam Woods and Victor Fleming (Fleming won best director for his efforts at the Oscar ceremony.) Selznick was a stickler for accuracy in period costuming, cost efficiency and getting the maximum effort out of his major players: Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia DeHavilland and Leslie Howard. Over 100 pages in this book are devoted to Gone With the Wind as Selznick wrote lengthy memos to his employees, Margaret Mitcehll, Loew's , MGM and Selznick International personnel.
Selznick also produced such film classics as "Duel in the Sun"; "Dinner at 8"; "Tender is the Night"; "David Copperfield" "A Tale of Two Cities"; "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" Hitchcock's directorial debut in America
"Rebecca" and Hitch's "Notorious."
Selznick was a driven man who demanded total oversight over his productions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Graceann Macleod on April 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
David O. Selznick left behind more than 2,000 file boxes of memos, letters and other papers that show not only the process of making films (down to the most minute detail), but the man himself. This is what good film scholarship is all about. Rudy Behlmer has selected and compiled the best of these papers in order to provide a fairly linear portrait. The picture is a fascinating one and the book is an amazing testament to what goes into the making of quality motion pictures. After reading Memo from David O. Selznick, I can now say definitively that I do NOT have what it takes to be a motion picture producer. At least, I'd never be able to create films of the quality that Selznick did.

Behlmer has brilliantly placed Selznick's materials in such an order that they create a narrative that cannot be ignored until the very last page has been turned. I will now have to seek out everything else to which Mr. Behlmer has contributed.
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