Apr 29, 2011

The Scarlett O'Hara War (1980): guess who's who

I finally watched this movie! I was so curious to find out how was it like and how close were the actors playing Classic Stars. Well, one of the few good things about this movie --based on the novel Moviola by Garson Kanin-- is that at least it gives you an idea about the great crusade that meant looking for the perfect Scarlett O'Hara. The main characters are David O. Selznick --played by Tony Curtis-- and his brother, Myron Selznick.

The main events shown are: the conversations with Crawford and Paulette Goddard who really wanted the role (the other actresses are just shown briefly); parties given by David to promote the movie; castings in several cities; two random guys who made a parallel fake casting to get girls; screen test with many performers, including Tallulah Bankhead; a party were David reunited all the possible actresses to play Scarlett; Myron noticing Vivien and then the burning of Atlanta. 

I don't know too much about old Hollywood gossips, hope you can help me out here, but according to this movie Joan Crawford slept with David Selznick to try to get the role. I don't think that this is a good movie; I didn't like, for example, the way they made fun of Chaplin, showing him always doing exercises and looking stupid. Most of the characters were really a caricature, all their dialogs were unidimensional. There are also dialogs that sounds fake, like Mayer explaining Gable what happened when he showed his t-shirt in It happened one night

But it was fun to spot someone that was supposedly a Classic Star and to hear people mentioning famous movies, like at some point someone laughs about Mayer doing a crazy musical called The Wizard of Oz. Then they mention Rebecca (at the end Myron is looking the screen test and notices Vivien). Also Cukor talks with Crawford and other actresses about the idea of The Women. Chaplin would be doing a movie about Hitler (The great dictator).

I know, I know, you want to see famous people. Some of them are OK, the actress playing Joan Crawford for example had something; but there are some that are not remotely alike. My least favorite is Carole Lombard, gosh, did they see a picture of her before the casting?? Oh, I can't say if they talked like the original actors, because the only copy I got was dubbed in Spanish. Well, try to guess who's who before reading the caption:

David O. Selznick
Myron Selznick
Louella Parsons
Charles Chaplin
George Cukor
Louis B. Mayer
Katharine Hepburn
Paulette Goddard
Tallulah Bankhead
Joan Crawford
Joan Bennett and Margaret Sullavan
Miriam Hopkins and Jean Arthur
Lucille Ball
Carole Lombard...really.
Yeah...really. Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.
Laurence Olivier...I think.
Clark Gable
Vivien Leigh. The actress, Morgan Britanny, had played Vivien in Gable and Lombard

What do you think? Who's your favorite? And your least favorite?

PS: 101 people have decided to follow my blog so far. That means that I'll be celebrating this weekend, stay tuned!


  1. I remember seeing this many years ago, and I don't think Sharon Gless does a bad Carole Lombard at all. Sharon doesn't precisely resemble Carole (who does?), but I believe she manages to capture her spirit. I'd take her Lombard over Jill Clayburgh's (RIP) any day of the week.

    (Kanin, of course, directed Carole in "They Knew What They Wanted," and I'm sure he had a hand in the casting here.)

  2. Nice to read another point of view, especially coming from a Carole Lombard expert.
    Well, I don't know, I found the actress over the top, her facial expressions and her attitude was like the Vulgar Angel, not the Profane one, even when she didn't pronounce a bad word :) She lacked glamour and she lacked humor, I never saw her laughing or smiling or whatever, even when she and Joan make fun of Selznick by spilling their drinks on his head, she was all serious and bitter, no subtlety at all. I know no one would resemble Carole, but she didn't look at all like her, in my opinion. Maybe is not her fault, the script doesn't help, nor the wardrobe department.

    But I respect your opinion, of course. Maybe I'm too critical. Thanks for commenting and visiting, VP81955!

  3. These people don't look like Old Hollywood stars. They look like bad 80s actors and actresses -- partially due to the style of lighting and shooting that was used at that time. The only one that I recognized was Katharine Hepburn, and the girl being Jean Arthur VAGUELY resembled her.

    ANYWAY, interesting post, Clara!

  4. Clara, your post was a fascinating and enjoyable read, as always! I must agree with Emm that the stars in this MOVIOLA adaptation about the Scarlett O'Hara casting definitely came across like TV actors than classic movie actors. To be fair, the original stars were hard acts to follow, and the late 1970s/early 1980s lighting and camerawork didn't do justice to even the most talented and best-looking performers. Heck, nowadays some TV series look more stylish and atmospheric than some of the movies in theaters! :-)

  5. Emm & DorianTB: Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this. Yeah, you're right, the 80s movie style didn't help at all!! But Tony Curtis and the actress playing Joan Crawford were OK despite the lighting and everything. And yes, I agree, the way the TV is made has changed, I don't know, the quality is so much better now. I guess that the 80s were a backward step for the film industry. Thanks for stopping by, girls :)

  6. Hola Clara, no sabía que existía una película basada en Moviola, leí el libro hace muchos años, creo que aún anda rodando por casa, y la verdad es que no se si me apetece verla, al leer te imaginas a los verdaderos actores diciendo y haciendo todo lo que cuenta la novela. Lo de Joan Crawford es impagable.
    Saludos y buena semana.

  7. Well, Clara, Hepburn, Bankhead and Gable were passable in looks, barely. The others are laughable. I have not seen this, and I probably won't bother. LOL! Loved your review!

  8. Oh God, the Lucille Ball impersonator is scaring me. Imdb is telling me it's Gypsi DeYoung.

    But then, it's not just the low-budget films that have trouble with casting. I could only accept Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner in The Aviator by imagining that this was, in fact, a minor actress of the same name, like Vanessa L. Williams and Vanessa A. Williams.

  9. Lola: Antes de escribir este post, yo no tenía idea que exisitía un libro llamado Moviola :) Parece entretenido. Sí, bueno, no te recomiendo la peli, más que por la anécdota. Gracias por pasar, Lola :)

    ClassicBecky: Thank you. Well, yes, most of them don't look like the original actors at all. I wish I could see a copy in English, though, to check if they at least could imitate the voices. Thanks for stopping by!

    Rachel: I know, that Lucille was scary! But she was there like 2 seconds really. Yeah, I know what you mean about Kate Beckinsale. But I couldn't accept her at all. But I know that was a last minute choice, because Gwyneth Paltrow dropped out, so I guess she was brave to face the role so suddenly. Thanks for stopping by :)

  10. I quite agree! They weren't supposed to be perfect look-alikes. But I will say Edward Winter as Gable was scary good. Gless captures the spirit of Lombard quite nicely...

  11. It had one great line by Tony Curtis, "What the hell does Louie Mayer want with a hundred midgets?

  12. I have to say i disagree. For the most part i thought it was brilliant.Perhaps if you could have seen the film with its original audio you would get the point, The actress playing Tallulah Bankhead is fabulous, the hand gestures ,the way she smokes and most importantly she sounds (and i am not exaggerating) EXACTLY like her. I hated the actress playing Crawford, she was far too masculine looking for the role. I thought the costume design was incredible but that is mostly down to the fact that the man who designed them was actually a designer during Hollywood's golden age and designed most of Marilyn Monroe's films, so he really knew the kind of glamour that was commonplace back then.

  13. This movie was the best of the three Moviolas and Sharon Gless was great as Carole Lombard. Please, if your going to criticize a movie, make sure your don't review a dubbed version of it.

  14. Having seen the original epic Gone with the Wind, I absolutely loved this Scarlett O'Hara War film. Tony Curtis and Myron were superb and the
    scene when Myron insistently makes David leave the Atlanta blaze scene and tells him: "David, I want you to meet Scarlett O'Hara," was hugely moving. David's silent, but incredibly poignant and revealing long stare at Vivien Leigh, was worth an Oscar in itself. This remains one of my most treasured movie moments in 70 years of cinema-going. It was an incredibly expressive and emotional silence that revealed more than a thousand words.



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