GONE WITH THE WIND: SCREEN TESTS AD INFINITUM, AD NAUSEUM
Here's a fascinating ten-minute reel of a handful of the ridiculous amount of screen tests that David O. Selznick ordered while casting 'Gone With The Wind'. The ballyhoo for the 'search for Scarlett O'Hara' was a masterstroke of publicity, designed to keep interest in the project alive during the very extended (almost two years) preparation process before filming finally got underway. As a result, there are a lot of actresses testing for Scarlett and Melanie who are clearly nowheresville, though all give it a gamey try. But really: Lynda Watkins? Francis Fuller? Mary Kent? The young Lana Turner gives Scarlett a try and bricks heavily. Her partner is Melvyn Douglas (playing Ashley Wilkes) and I dare say he makes a less silly/prissy Ashley than Leslie Howard, though ultimately he would've looked too much like Gable for it to have worked. Most stunning of all, though, is Paulette Goddard who apparently had a real shot at Scarlett. She's mesmerizingly beautiful and fetching, 'naughty' in a very period come-hither way. She would have been a more seductive Scarlett than Vivien Leigh (whose screen test comes near the end of the reel) but minus the neurotic, spoiled-bitch element that Leigh heaped upon the role. Also tested was a young woman with the schoolmarm-from-the-midwest name of Edith Marriner. Later she became Susan Hayward...
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 1:56 PM